The Johnstown Tomahawks had a busy day ahead of the North American Hockey League “roster freeze.”
This year, the league allowed teams to have 27 players on the official roster submitted ahead of Wednesday’s deadline. Traditionally, the NAHL allows 23 players on the roster teams will use for the remainder of the regular season and postseason, coach Mike Letizia said.
“The roster deadline is (Wednesday),” Letizia said. “The league trade deadline was on (last) Saturday.”
The ’Hawks will host two games against the Maryland Black Bears on Friday (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday (7) at 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial.
Even though rosters had to be set by Wednesday, the NAHL regular season doesn’t conclude until May 16.
The Tomahawks added forward William Persson, 19, to the roster. The 6-foot-2 forward from Bjorklinge, Sweden, had skated in his country’s elite-level league.
“He was playing in the top Swedish Junior League, the Nationell,” Letizia said. “Their season ended, and we brought him in.”
Johnstown acquired defenseman Spence Evans, 18, from the Minnesota Wilderness for “assets,” but did not give up a player, Letizia said. The 6-foot-2, 196-pound Evans has played in the NAHL with the Wilderness, Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.
Last season, he had two goals and six points in 44 games with the Knights.
Goaltender Josh Graziano was acquired from the New Mexico Ice Wolves, also for “assets.”
The 6-3, 200-pound netminder went 3-13-2 with New Mexico in 2019-20. Union College recruited Graziano and he went 1-1 in the Division I ECAC.
“Graziano was in New Mexico after he had spent the second half of last season at Union,” Letizia said. “Then, Union didn’t play this year (because of the COVID-19 pandemic) so he went back to New Mexico. Then, we acquired him.”
Goaltender Atticus Kelly and forward Milan Cermak each were released by the Tomahawks.
Johnstown goaltender Peyton Grainer, who went 5-2 this season, has been reassigned to the Flint Firebirds in the Ontario Hockey League.
“When Peyton joined us, we knew it was going to be temporary,” Letizia said. “We actually thought he would’ve had to leave earlier, but the delay to the OHL season allowed him to be here longer.
“Even though their season is still delayed, there are some transfer restrictions within USA Hockey and Hockey Canada that must be followed, thus making the way for him to be reassigned back to Flint.”
Letizia also said Billy Simms officially is out for the season after he fractured his leg during the second game on the schedule.