The Johnstown Tomahawks organization announced the return of former team captain Chris Trouba as the team’s on and off ice development coach.

“Obviously, Chris meant so much to our team and our organization for four seasons as a player. His leadership, his playing ability and his character were all something we valued at a very high level,” Tomahawks coach Mike Letizia said.

Trouba is currently a freshman and member of the hockey team at Plattsburgh State University in New York, but the team’s season got canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. While he will be completing his academics remotely, Chris will be assisting the team within his new coaching role.

In his four seasons, Trouba had 40 points in 162 games played with the Tomahawks. 

“The chance to have someone like him helping out in various ways is obviously a big bonus for our coaching staff from both an on ice and off ice perspective, as well through his experiences as a player,” Letizia added. “We’re obviously going to enjoy the time that he can be here and hopefully make the best of it.”

Although he is not Johnstown born and raised, the Auburn Hills, Michigan, native feels right at home where he is.

“It was definitely weird at first,” Trouba said of his return to Johnstown as a coach. “The guys were a little timid at first when I came in, but everyone’s welcomed me with open arms and I just love it here. I obviously couldn’t stay away. I love this organization. I love the people. I love having a different relationship with Mike and 'Dunk' (Dave Dunkleberger). It’s a dream. When I left, I always said I wanted to come back and do something like this and it’s a blessing I got to do it this early.”

Along with the addition of Trouba, Dave Dunkleberger has been promoted to stand aside Letizia on the bench as the team’s assistant coach. Dunkleberger will continue to serve as the equipment manager along with his new role.

“Dunk and I have worked together since my first day as head coach,” Letizia said. “We obviously have a great working relationship, but also a great friendship. He’s clearly one of the hardest working guys in hockey, and he’s been that way for our team, for the league and for Johnstown. He’s extremely loyal. He puts this team at the top of his priority list. With all the movement and change we’ve gone through over the last few years, the one constant has been Dunk and his ability to not only help me as a coach, but help the players in many ways.”

The opportunity for the promotion became available upon the sudden departure of former assistant coach Nick Mish during the month of November.

“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Dunkleberger about his promotion. “I’ve worked with Mike and all the coaches for a long time, and to take another step at helping our team develop is pretty exciting for me.”

Upon joining the team in 2014, Dunkleberger has proven to be a valuable asset to not only the Tomahawks organization, but the entire league. He has served as equipment manager for the NAHL Top Prospects and Robertson Cup events over the past several seasons. Most notably, in 2019, Dunkleberger traveled to Sochi, Russia to participate in the Junior Club World Cup to be a part of Team NAHL.

“He’s basically been a coach for the last few years doing double duty,” Letizia said. “When we had the change happen in November unexpectedly, it just made sense. He’s earned it and he deserves it. I kind of said the right guy for the job might’ve been here all along. It’s a great situation for us. Hopefully we’re all going to learn from each other to make a better team and do great things.”

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