The Johnstown Tomahawks announced two alumni have signed professional hockey contracts in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). Forward Andrew Romano has signed with the Maine Mariners, and forward Luke Lynch has inked a deal with the Wheeling Nailers.
Both Lynch and Romano signed tenders with the Tomahawks prior to the 2014-15 season before spending two years together in Johnstown.
As rookies, Lynch contributed 15 goals and seven assists for 22 points in his first season, while Romano chipped in seven goals and 17 assists for 24 points.
In the 2015-16 season, both Romano and Lynch left their mark on the Tomahawk organization as well as the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Tying for the team lead with 56 points, the Tomahawks won their first playoff series in team history, disposing of the New Jersey Titans in the East Division semifinals.
At the conclusion of the regular season, Lynch was chosen as the team’s MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, while Romano was chosen as the Fan Favorite. Additionally, both Lynch and Romano were selected to the All-East Division team.
Lynch was also chosen as the 2015-16 East Division Forward of the Year. Following the season, Lynch moved on to play at Robert Morris University, and Romano joined the Geneseo Knights.
In four seasons as a Colonial, Lynch contributed 105 points in 155 games for coach Derek Schooley, and served as team captain in his senior year.
“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to sign my first pro contract with the Nailers,” said Lynch.
Romano became one of the most prolific point producers in NCAA Division III hockey over the next four seasons.
He tallied a total of 171 points in 112 total games. In his final two seasons, he led the nation in Division III scoring.
“I am thrilled to start my pro career with the Mariners,” exclaimed Romano. “They have been sincere with me from our first conversation and that is something that I really appreciate. I look forward to joining a team with such a strong team culture.”
Both Romano and Lynch played under coach Mike Letizia during their seasons in Johnstown. He was able to watch as they developed as junior hockey players, and then into their college careers.
“There is no secret that Luke and Andrew were two of the best players to ever put on the Tomahawk uniform,” said Letizia. “They were two of my favorite players to coach because of their outstanding character and their competitiveness. In 2015-16, they were part of one of the most dominant lines we have ever had (along with Casey Linkenheld), and they really paved the way for those after them. Both of these guys are so deserving of their continued success, and I could not be prouder of them.”
Romano and Lynch both recognize their time spent in Johnstown was important to their development on and off the ice. They did not stop short of expressing their appreciation for many within the Tomahawks organization.
“I loved my two years in Johnstown playing under coach Mike,” said Romano. “It was great for my development not only as a player, but also as a person. It’s a first-class organization and I will always be grateful for my time In Johnstown.”
“I personally cannot thank Coach Letizia, the Lees family, and the entire Tomahawks organization enough,” Lynch added. “I would also love to thank the Lees family again for taking me into their home and making me a part of their family.
“All of this support plus that from the Tomahawk fan base allowed me to develop as a player and person to take the next step in my hockey career.”
Both of these young men saw their path to professional hockey start in their home state of Pennsylvania, and run through two different college hockey avenues. The consistent factor for both of them was playing their junior hockey in Johnstown.
“While Luke and Andrew both thrived in Johnstown, Luke moved onto Division I hockey, while Andrew found his home playing Division III,” stated Letizia. “But like we tell our players all the time, it’s not necessarily where you play, but what you do when you get there. Each of them proved that, and now will enter the next phase of their respective careers as professionals. Myself, and the whole Tomahawk organization is thrilled for them, and we cannot wait to continue to follow the success of two of our outstanding alumni.”
The ECHL season is slated to start Dec. 4.