TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – The Traverse City Hounds sent nine players from last season’s team to various college hockey programs this year (including six to NCAA Division III Finlandia University) and while the current Midwest Junior Hockey League campaign is just two weeks old, the Hounds have done it again.
Rookie forward Garrison Sanipass has been signed by the Johnstown Tomahawks of the North American Hockey League and should make his NAHL debut this upcoming weekend when the Tomahawks host the Soo Eagles for three games at the War Memorial in Johnstown, Pa.
According to Sanipass, getting the call after just five games with the Hounds was an incredible feeling.
“I had been talking to Johnstown since the beginning of the season,” said Sanipass, a 19-year-old native of Northbrook, Ill. “(Traverse City coaches) Scott Gardiner and Randy Montrose got me in condition and got me ready to make the leap to the next level. They also gave me some great advice along the way.”
This season with the Hounds, Sanipass tallied six goals and 10 assists for 16 points, good for second in the MWJHL scoring race.
“As an organization, we are very excited for Garrison,” Gardiner said. “He will be missed here in Traverse City, but Johnstown is getting a great player and an even better person.”
In signing with the Tomahawks, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Sanipass becomes the first MWJHL player in the league’s two-year history to sign with an NAHL team.
“We knew when we signed Garrison that he probably wouldn't last the whole season here, but to get promoted after just two weeks shows you how hard he worked and how much Johnstown really wanted him,” added Montrose. “We certainly wish him the best and hope he makes an immediate impact with Johnstown.
“In all my years of coaching, there is no sweeter joy than seeing players develop and move up to higher levels of this game. I've said it before – this is why we do what we do. Scotty and I will take the wins, sure, but our priority has been, and will always be, to develop our players to get promoted to higher levels of junior hockey and eventually, to college hockey.”
With the Tomahawks, Sanipass will join former Little Caesars teammates Shane Bednard, Alex Jaeckle and Brett Young, so he’ll be going in having at least three recognizable faces in the locker room.
“Once I get to Johnstown, I am just looking to improve my skill and contribute to the team any way I can,” Sanipass said. “I know that Johnstown has a great community – I’m really looking forward to playing there. It’s a great opportunity and I plan on staying there the rest of the season.”
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)