Game Preview: Wings vs. Tomahawks

The 5th season of the Aberdeen Wings franchise, proud members of the North American Hockey League begins today with the official start of the 2014-2015 season at the NAHL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Minnesota.

In just four complete seasons, the Aberdeen Wings have gained much attention in the league and across the nation. Two of the four complete seasons have involved trips to the NAHL playoffs. For the past four seasons, the Aberdeen Wings have held the highest attendance in the NAHL Central Division boasting some crowds over 1,700. 24 current/former Aberdeen Wings players have made Division-I commitments. Just this past off-season, two former Aberdeen Wings players Zach Nagelvoort and Steven Johnson were selected in the 2014 NHL Draft. During the NAHL’s 24-for-24 series, the Aberdeen Wings’ home ice The Odde Ice Center was revered as the ‘Toughest Place To Play’ in the league, thanks to the passion and support of the amazing Aberdeen Wings fan base.

A new season…begins now.

Today, the Aberdeen Wings take on the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL North Division. The Tomahawks come off a 28-27-5 regular season which saw them make the playoffs, but would lose three straight in the first round. The 2014-2015 Johnstown Tomahawks are not returning any of their top 5 scorers from a year ago. Forward Dalton Hunter, the Tomahawks 1st Round pick (9th Overall) in the 2014 NAHL Draft is listed on their roster for the showcase. Hunter played for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite last season seeing time in 21 games and scoring 8 goals and 2 assists. Tomahawks forward Tanner Barnes returns after a good year gathering 22 points on 9 goals and 13 assists. Barnes is a veteran of the NAHL having spent time with the Brookings Blizzard, Coulee Region Chill, and the Wenatchee Wild before going to the Johnstown Tomahawks last season. The biggest test for the Wings could be Johnstown’s rookie goaltender Jacob Gwillim. Last season in the NAPHL, Gwillim played for the Lansing Capitals where he went 12-1-0 with a 1.85 goals against average while also being named to the 2013-2014 ALL-NAPHL 3rd Team.

The Aberdeen Wings got two exhibition pre-season wins against the Topeka Roadrunners earlier this month and are coming off the most successful season in franchise history with a record of 38-18-4 including home-ice in last season’s playoffs. The year also saw 8 players make Division-I commitments including NAHL Rookie of the Year TJ Roo (Bemidji State) and All-NAHL 1st Team Jake Horton (UMass). The Wings return one of their top five scorers from last season #16 Kyle Haak (F-Okemos, MI) who tallied 41 points with 14 goals and 27 assists. They also return veteran goaltender #1 Chad Catt (G-Williamstown, MI) who was 18-11-1 with a 2.18 goals against average. Catt received numerous ‘Stars of the Week’ recognitions and weekly honorable mentions throughout the season and was considered one of the top goaltenders in the league. Also returning to the Wings is forward #21 Bjorn Sigurdarson (F-Reykjavik, Iceland) who had 13 goals and 25 assists last season while also spending time with his national team, Iceland at the 2014 World Junior Championships of the IIHF. The team also is under direction of first-year head coach Francis Anzalone who served as associate head coach last season along with duties as the Director of Player Personnel. The Anzalone name is a familiar one in the hockey world, as his father Frank Anzalone was a National Champion collegiate hockey coach, professional coach, and amateur scout for the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Francis Anzalone is looking forward to his first season as head coach, bringing in top talent from all over the nation.

The Aberdeen Wings announced the addition of forward Jack Nile, who signed a tender contract with the team last season. Nile started the year off as a member of the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL. Nile is a 6-1, 195 lbs forward who played for the Chicago Fury AAA team last season. Before Nile could join the Aberdeen Wings, he was drafted in the 15th Round (235th Overall) in the 2014 USHL Draft by Des Moines. Nile will join the team in Blaine, Minnesota.

Gametime for the Aberdeen Wings vs. the Johnstown Tomahawks is set for 4:45pm. All Wings games at the NAHL Showcase Tournament will be broadcasted on ONLY. You can watch/listen to the game at and all season long. Also follow Twitter & Facebook for up-to-minute scoring updates.