Hawk-ey Memories: Al Steele
Curated by: David Nicoletti
Essay by: Al Steele
Note: This post is part of a season-long series where our readers share their favorite Tomahawks’ memories over the team’s ten-year history.
When I look back at my time with the Tomahawks I smile because it almost didn’t happen. After more than ten seasons with the Johnstown Chiefs I thought I was done with hockey. When it was announced that a junior hockey team was coming I honestly didn’t think much of it.
Then Jean Desrochers contacted me to gauge my interest. I thanked him but said I wasn’t interested. He kept after me. I turned him down a total of 4 times. But his persistence paid off. For various reasons I gave in on the fifth time.
My first memory was the very first game. A packed arena, Mario Lemieux (I even got to shake his hand!) and hockey was back. I realized this was going to be the real deal. Good hockey and a commitment to presenting an exciting game day experience for the fans.
There are so many games, too many to list here that were exciting and fun to be a part of. I guess I would say hockey wise, it was the team’s drive to improve every year. Now the Tomahawks are recognized as one of the best teams in the league. For me, to get the chance again to introduce a team’s starting lineups, announce goals and call for POWERFUL NOISE on the power play from an enthusiastic crowd. Again is something I am grateful for.
Memories? Well of course the New Years Eve games. And without the Tomahawks I would not have been able to work the Hockeyville game. Doing that game and having Doc Emerick say my name twice on a National broadcast is something I will always treasure. Most of all I am extremely proud of the job that the guys in the penalty box with me did as well as the entire game staff to show the NHL that Johnstown can put on a first class presentation.
In closing I have to say it’s not always the games I remember but the people. From the arena staff, the various game day front office staff I was privileged to work with, and Jean and especially team president Rick Bouchard I am grateful to have gotten to know them. It was even a family affair for me as my son Adam was Chopper for quite a few seasons. He even fist bumped Evgeni Malkin at the Hockeyville game!
Most of all, my best memories are of the guys in the penalty box I worked with. Ed Sheets (whom I feel is one of the best game day producers not only in Johnstown but anywhere in the business) Ed Demartino, John LaLima and Eugene Stoyokvich who are all terrific people and still committed to keep hockey in Johnstown.
Finally I have to say a fond memory is of the people who came to the games. The fans were always friendly and I was happy to see them every game. It’s been a great run with the Tomahawks and I am grateful for all those years. It flew by!
LETS GO HAWKS’