TBT: Johnstown Chiefs/NAHL Connections
written by David Nicoletti
There have been a total 591 players to take to the ice in Johnstown to play for the Chiefs. All players come from different backgrounds, different towns, different states, different countries, you name it.
Like most current professional hockey players today, some players got their roots started from playing junior hockey. As many of you may know, the Johnstown Tomahawks are a junior hockey team that plays in the North American Hockey League (NAHL).
The North American Hockey League is one of the top junior hockey leagues in the United States. The league will be entering its 45th season of operation for the upcoming 2020-21 season. Also it is the only Tier II junior league sanctioned by USA Hockey, and acts as an alternative to the Tier I United States Hockey League.
From all the players that have taken to the ice for the Chiefs in its 22 year history there have been 31 players that have once called the NAHL junior hockey league home. If we do the math, that's five percent out of all Chiefs' players.
Today, we are gonna take a look at those players.
RICK BOYD - FORWARD
I must confess this, there have been only 32 Chiefs that have played in the NAHL, but I thought I’d mention Rick because well, why not? Boyd was a six-year Chief back in the day. He is one of the original members from the first ever roster.
He played a career 170 games with Johnstown. He spent a couple of those seasons as captain from time-to-time. He would go on to score a career 23 goals, 62 assists, and 966 penalty minutes, crazy right? He also took part in three playoff games for the Chiefs scoring a goal and registering 25 penalty minutes.
Rick Boyd’s connection to the NAHL is rather obvious to early Tomahawk fans. Boyd was the team's original general manager for the Tomahawks when they first took to the ice in Johnstown. He would go on with his role as general manager for four seasons from 2012-13 to 2015-16. The Tomahawks went to the playoff three out of those four seasons with Boyd as the team's GM. The Tomahawks were 111-99-30 during his rein. The team also had a playoff record of 4-8 in those four years as well.
STEVE DUKE - DEFENSEMAN
The first ever Chief we know of that played in the NAHL was a Georgetown, Ontario, Canada native by the name of Steve Duke. Duke was a Chief during the 1998-99 season. He skated in 54 games for the team and scored four goals, 23 assists, 58 penalty minutes, and a minus three average.
Before his time in a Chiefs uniform came, the defenseman played the 1993-94 season in the North American Hockey League for the Niagara Scenic. He would then spend the next four seasons playing NCAA Division I hockey for Western Michigan University.
YEVGENI KURILIN - FORWARD
Minsk, Belarus native Yevgeni Kurilin was a one year Chief in 1999-2000. He took part in five games for the Chiefs, scoring a goal and a minus one average.
He would also spend some time in the NAHL playing two seasons for the Springfield Jr. Blues for both the 1996-97 and 1999-2000 season. He would play in 55 games scoring 19 goals, 19 assists, and 32 penalty minutes.
BILL RUGGIERO - GOALTENDER
6’2” Simi Valley, California native Bill Ruggiero was a one year player as well for the Chiefs organization during the 2001-02 season. He would strap on the pads for four games that season averaging a 4.00 GAA and a .867 save percentage.
Ruggiero was a two year player in the NAHL. He suiting up in 1999-2000 for the Grand Rapids Bearcats. Then in 2001-02 for the Springfield Spirit.
He suited up in three games for the Bearcats in 1999-2000 averaging a 2.33 GAA and a .916 save percentage. He would suit up for the Spirit for four games during the 2001-02 season before making his debut later that same year for the Chiefs.
TIM BRANHAM - DEFENSEMAN
Eagle River, Wisconsin native and 2000 Vancouver Canucks third round pick, Tim Branham was a part of the Chiefs organization for two seasons. His first in 2002-03, and then his second in 2009-10.
He would play 30 games for the Chiefs in 2002-03 and then 3 games for them in 2009-10. In both those years combined, the 6’2” defenseman scored one goal, eight assists, 34 penalty minutes, and a minus three.
But before that time with the Chiefs came, he was a three year veteran of the NAHL for the Danville Wings in 1997-98, and the Soo Indians in 1998-00.
In 52 games for the Danville Wings in 1997-98, he scored two goals, seven assists, and 71 penalty minutes. In his years with the Soo Indians, Branham scored seven goals, 13 assists, and 62 penalty minutes.
CURTISS PATRICK - DEFENSEMAN
An alumni player of Penn State University and the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins. - Hampton, Virginia native, Curtiss Patrick would come to the Chiefs organization for eight games during the 2003-04 season. He only managed to get 11 penalty minutes and a minus three average.
Patrick was be a part of the Rochester Jr. Americans of the NAHL during the 1999-2000 season. In 47 games with the team, he tallied four assists and 211 penalty minutes.
BILL DOWNEY - FORWARD
Pittsburgh native, Bill Downey took to the ice for the Chiefs during the 2003-04 and 2004-05 season. In a combined six games for the Chiefs, he scored a goal and 18 penalty minutes with a minus one average.
His NAHL ice time would come in the 1999-2000 season with the Chicago Freeze where he played 47 games with the team and scored four goals, 11 assists, and 49 penalty minutes.
WILLIE LEVESQUE - FORWARD
Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts native Willie Levesque took to the ice for Johnstown during the 2003-04 season. The winger would go to play 31 games and score five goals, six assists, 27 penalty minutes, and a plus seven.
His NAHL experience would come with the U.S. National U18 Team for nine games during the 1997-98 season. He talled four assists and six penalty minutes.
JEREMY DOWNS - DEFENSEMAN
Jeremy Downs took part in three games for the Chiefs during the 2005-06 where he put up two penalty minutes and a minus two average.
The Newfield, New York native spent the 1999-2000 season in the NAHL with the Rochester Jr. Americans; he tailed two assists.
BRADLEY SULLIVAN - DEFENSEMAN
Marquette, Michigan and Canadian, Bradley Sullivan spent 14 games with the Chiefs during the 2005-06 season. He would tally one assist, four penalty minutes, and a minus two average.
But beforejoining the team, the 6’2” defenseman would spend the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 season with the Danville Wings of the NAHL where in his career 91 games for the team, he scored 10 goals, 18 assists, and 197 penalty minutes.
GERALD COLEMAN - GOALTENDER
A Tampa Bay Lighting seventh round pick in 2003, Romeoville, Illinois native Gerald Coleman would take to the ice for the Chiefs in 17 games during the 2006-17 season. In his time with Johnstown, he put up a 3.41 goals against average, and a .902 save percentage.
Before being selected by the Lightning 224th overall, the 6’4” goaltender would spend two years in the NAHL during the 2000-01 and 2001-02 season for the U.S. National U18 Team. He would play a career 58 games with the team, averaging a 3.91 GAA.
BRYAN NATHE - DEFENSEMAN
Bryan Nathe, an Elk River, Minnesota native would take to the ice for the Chiefs during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 season. In his career with the Chiefs, he scored two goals, 11 assists, 44 penalty minutes, and a plus one average for the team in 55 games. he also had a goal and a minus four average in two playoff games during the 2007 ECHL Playoffs.
His NAHL experience came in the 1999-2000 season. He suited up for the U.S. National U18 Team for 55 games, scoring a goal, nine assists, and 62 penalty minutes.
ERIC PRZEPIORKA - FORWARD
Grosse Pointe, Michigan native American/Sweden, Eric Przepiorka would play 40 games with the Chiefs during the 2006-07 season where he would go on to score seven goals, eight assists, 22 penalty minutes, and a minus one average.
He spent the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 season with the Chicago Freeze of the NAHL. In 106 games with the Freeze, Przepiorka scored 60 goals, 55 assists, and 145 penalty minutes.
DAVE SPINA - FORWARD
Mesa, Arizona native and USA and Italy breed, forward, Dave Spina spent six games for the Chiefs during the 2006-07 season scoring four goals, two assists, four penalty minutes and a minus one.
He spent the 1999-2000 season with the Texas Tornados of the NAHL where he played 54 games and scored 15 goals, 26 assists, and 31 penalty minutes.
JASON BACASHIHUA - GOALTENDER
Dearborn Heights, Michigan native and a 2001 Dallas Stars first round pick spent one game in a Chiefs uniform during the 2007-08 season. He averaged a 3.69 GAA and a .886 save percentage.
The 26th overall pick would spend two seasons in 1999-2000 and 2000-01 with the Chicago Freeze of the NAHL. In 80 games with the team, he averaged a 3.07 GAA, along with a 5.52 GAA in five playoff games in between both the 2000 and 2001 NAHL Playoffs.
IAN KESERICH - GOALTENDER
Parma, Ohio native and 2004 Colorado Avalanche seventh round pick, spent the 2008-09 season for the Johnstown Chiefs for 32 games. He would go and put up a 3.14 goals against average and a .902 save percentage.
He spent the 2002-03 and 2003-04 season in the NAHL for the Cleveland Barons. He played a career 49 games with the team. Going on to average a 3.54 GAA.
KRIS MAYOTTE - GOALTENDER
Pittsburgh native and Central Catholic high alumni, Kris Mayotte took to the ice during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons for the Johnstown Chiefs. He played 70 within those two seasons and averaged a 3.36 GAA.
His NAHL playing time took place during the 2000-01 season for the Cleveland Barons. He put up a 3.64 goals against average and a .887 save percentage in 17 games for the team.
KYLE BUSHEE - DEFENSEMAN
The 2008-09 and 2009-10 season is where we would see 6'1” Otsego, Michigan native Kyle Bushee in a Johnstown Chiefs uniform. In 76 games for the team, he scored four goals, 20 assists, 44 penalty minutes, and a minus seven.
His NAHL days would come during the 2005-06 season for the North Iowa Outlaws. There he played in three games and scored two goals, two assists, and eight penalty minutes.
MIKE BARTLETT - FORWARD/DEFENSEMAN
Morton Grove, Illinois native spent the 2008-09 and 2009-10 season with the Johnstown Chiefs. He played 82 games and scored 21 goals, 34 assists, 91 penalty minutes, and a minus one average.
He spent two seasons with the U.S. National U18 Team of the NAHL in 2001-02 and 2002-03 where the right handed shot played in 56 games and scored 11 goals, 13 assists, and 94 penalty minutes.
SEAN BERKSTRESSER - FORWARD
Apollo, PA native forward Sean Berkstresser played the 2008-09 and 2009-10 season with the Johnstown Chiefs. He played in 129 games for the team and scored 29 goals, 36 assists, 139 penalty minutes, and a -22.
He played in the NAHL with the Pittsburgh Forge during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 season. He played 101 games for the Forge and scored 24 goals, 21 assists, and 156 penalty minutes.
ANDY CONTOIS - FORWARD
Marquette, Michigan native Andy Contois spent the 2008-09 seasons with the Chiefs. He played 33 games and scored 11 goals, 14 assists, 34 penalty minutes, and a plus one.
He played the 1999-2000 season with the Springfield Jr. Blues of the NAHL, playing in 54 games and scoring 14 goals, 17 assists, and 22 penalty minutes.
JOE FEDEROFF - FORWARD
Another Pittsburgh, PA native joins the list. Joe Federoff played the 2008-09 season with the Chiefs. He went on to play four games and scored one goal as well as two penalty minutes and a minus four.
He spent two seasons in the NAHL for the Pittsburgh Forge, Youngstown Phantoms, and Toledo IceDiggers. He spent the whole 2002-03 season with the Pittsburgh Forge playing in 43 games he scores five goals, 10 assists, and 30 penalty minutes.
He would split time between the Youngstown Phantoms and Toledo IceDiggers during the 2003-04 season. In 30 games with the Phantoms, he scored 10 goals, and 20 assists, with 58 penalty minutes. He then finished up the season playing in 25 games with the IceDiggers. Scoring 10 goals, 14 assists, and 53 penalty minutes.
BRYAN MARSHALL - FORWARD
Livonia, Michigan native Bryan Marshall spent the 2008-09 and 2009-10 season with the Johnstown Chiefs. He played 52 games during his time with the Chiefs. Scoring 17 goals, 21 assists, 16 penalty minutes, and a -17 average.
He spent two seasons with the Danville Wings of the NAHL during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 season playing in 100 games and putting up 58 goals, 50 assists, and 57 penalty minutes.
MARK McCUTCHEON - FORWARD
Ithaca, New York native and 2003 Colorado Avalanche fifth round pick spent the 2008-09 season with the Johnstown Chiefs playing in nine games, scoring three goals, one assist, 14 penalty minutes, and a minus four.
The 146th overall pick in 2003 spent the 1999-2000 season with the Rochester Jr. Americans. He played in two games and came up scoreless in both games.
MIKE SGROI - FORWARD
Toronto, ON, Canada native spent the 2007-08 and 2008-09 season with Johnstown playing in 39 games and scoring 16 goals, 12 assists, 214 penalty minutes, and a minus six. As well as 12 penalty minutes in six playoff games during the 2008 ECHL Playoffs.
He spent two seasons in the NAHL playing for the Danville Wings in 1995-96, and the Springfield Jr. Blues in 1996-97.
In 15 games with the Wings, Sgroi scored two goals, two assists, and 67 penalty minutes. In 48 games with the Jr. Blues the following season, he scored 12 goals, 16 assists, and 328 penalty minutes.
JOHN MURRAY - GOALTENDER
Lancaster native and half Poland and America citizen goaltender, John Murray took to the ice for the Chiefs during the 2009-10 season where he played in 29 games and averaged a 4.09 GAA and a .880 save percentage.
He spent 21 games in the NAHL with the Youngstown Phantom during the 2003-04 season.
ANTHONY SARNO - DEFENSEMAN
Springfield, Massachusetts native and half American and Italy defenseman, Anthony Sarno 2009-10 season with the Johnstown Chiefs. He spent 14 games with the team, tailing three assists and 10 penalty minutes.
He spent one season in the NAHL during the 2005-06 season where he played 13 games with the Traverse City North Stars. He went on to score two goals, four assists, and six penalty minutes.
BRIAN KAUFMAN - FORWARD
Shoreview, Minnesota native Brian Kaufman spent the 2009-10 season with the Johnstown Chiefs where he would go on to play 29 games and scored four goals, six assists, 20 penalty minutes, and a minus nine.
He spent the 2003-04 and 2004-05 season with the Billings Bulls of the NAHL. He was an alternate captain during the 2003-04 season and captain during the 2004-05 season. In 108 games with the Bulls, he scored 55 goals, 63 assists, and 85 penalty minutes. Along with three goals, five assists, and 10 penalty minutes during seven playoff games during the 2005 NAHL Playoffs.
TOMAS KLEMPA - FORWARD
A native of Piestany, Slovakia, Tomas Klempa spent the 2009-10 season with the Johnstown Chiefs playing in six games and scoring one goal, two assists, six penalty minutes, and a plus one average.
He spent the 2002-03 season with the Danville Wings of the NAHL. He played 48 games and scored 16 goals, 12 assists, and 41 penalty minutes.
KYLE LAUGHLIN - FORWARD
Gambrills, Maryland native spent 2009-10 with the Johnstown Chiefs. He played in eight games, tallied an assist, with four penalty minutes, and a minus two.
He spent the 2001-02 and 2002-03 season in the NAHL with the Chicago Freeze playing in 80 games, scoring 14 goals, 20 assists, and 49 penalty minutes.
After a short stint in 2003-04 playing in the USHL with the Lincoln Stars and Sioux Falls Stampede he returned to the NAHL during the 2004-05 season, playing for the Youngstown Phantoms for 55 games. He would go on to score 12 goals, 17 assists, and 62 penalty minutes.
JIM McKENZIE - FORWARD
The last player on our list is a St. Paul, Minnesota native and a 2004 fifth round pick by the Ottawa Senators. The 141st overall pick spent the 2009-10 season with the Chiefs. He went on to play 55 games for the team that season scoring 16 goals, 24 assists, 107 penalty minutes, and a -24.
He spent two years with the U.S. National U18 Team of the NAHL during the 2000-01 and 2001-02 season. In 45 games with the team, he scored 11 goals, eight assists, and 59 penalty minutes.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the list of all Johnstown Chiefs who have played in the NAHL. Tell us who your favorite players on this list were or who your favorite player in Johnstown Chiefs history was. Also let us know what kind of articles you would like to see up on the site. We might just use your idea as one of our articles in the upcoming future. Thanks for reading. Lets Go Hawks!!