In my opinion, the NAHL's desire to expand East is ill-advised (I've also always believed this with the USHL, and the USHL has wisely declined to do so). I will be the first to say that the Tomahawks are a very respectable NAHL team, but I just don't think there are enough markets out East to support the NAHL. If Johnstown lost its NAHL team (after the other teams in the region fold) and picked up an FHL team on par with Danville, Danbury, Port Huron, or Watertown, or the direction Carolina seems to be going, I think the market would respond favorably to FHL hockey and there'd be a number of regional rivals.
If you like NAHL hockey, I think you'll like FHL hockey. The NAHL doesn't feature a lot of high-end talent. It's grinding (but not goon) hockey. Well, that's largely what the FHL is, too. You have an odd player here or there that tears up the league with skill that is strong for the FHL level (but rarely enough to be a top-six in the SPHL), but the rest of it is grinding, blue-collar hockey. I think fans in these old, smaller cities can identify well with FHL players.
Gaining markets like Elmira and Johnstown would be huge for the FHL as it tries to add teams on pair with Danville, Danbury, Port Huron, Watertown, and Carolina. Berlin, despite its tiny rink, has a lot of enthusiasm. Cornwall has potential as a market. St. Clair Shores...not looking as good (although, it's actually gone better than I thought it would). If every team coming through Elmira and Johnstown is on par with Danville, Danbury, Port Huron, and Watertown (and what I think Cornwall can become), I think fans will take to it. The SPHL is approaching what the Central League used to be (if it's not already there). The FHL is now starting to approach what the SPHL used to be in terms of talent (in my opinion). We're a long way removed from the gong show Single A leagues. The SPHL is extremely legit and the FHL is legit now, too. If you really love hockey, you'll like FHL hockey. It's more exciting than AHL hockey (which is routinely boring--it's quite positional but doesn't have the high-end skill of the NHL). I still love AHL hockey, too.
To me, a real hockey connoisseur can find enjoyment in any level.