Relive Slap Shot Memories on Dec. 13

Dec 3, 2012

The Tomahawks are pleased to invite Johnstown’s hockey fans to relive the memories and pay tribute to Johnstown hockey history with the special screening of Slap Shot, perhaps the greatest hockey film ever made.


Event: Special Screening of Slap Shot

Where: Westwood Plaza Theater

When: Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.


Steve Carlson (aka Steve Hanson) will conduct a Q & A with fans, sharing some behind-the-scenes secrets about the film. $25 includes a movie ticket, sandwich, bottomless popcorn, and drink! Space is now limited. Call (814) 536-4625 to reserve your seat!


By Suzanne Grove


Hockey fans are dedicated. They’re passionate. They’re knowledgeable.


The fans in Johnstown are no different. Actually, scratch that. They are different because not only does the city’s love of the game rival that of any great NHL city, but there’s also the not-so-little fact that the town lays claim to Slap Shot, perhaps the greatest hockey movie of all time.


The city’s streets, bars, and War Memorial Arena were featured prominently in the film, but the people who lived, worked, and played every day in Johnstown also served as vital components of the cult classic. They played a role they were accustomed to and that required very little acting – enthusiastic fans. The movie wouldn’t have been the same without them. In fact, the Tomahawks estimate that over half of their current season ticket holders were extras in the movie. 


That’s why the Tomahawks, along with Hanson Brother Steve Carlson, are thrilled to host a special screening of the movie at Westwood Plaza Theater. For those fans living in the city when the movie was filmed, watching Paul Newman and the Charlestown Chiefs hockey team will be like a walk down memory lane. For fans new to the sport or for life-long admirers of the movie who were not yet born during its 1977 filming, the screening will be something almost more special: A chance to see Johnstown in a new light, to experience first-hand why the movie made so many people laugh and spoke to hockey fans and players on a personal level.


“We take a lot of pride in this city and its love for the game,” said Patty Fyock, a Johnstown resident who not only experienced the movie-making process as an extra, but also lent the actors and players her car to travel around town. “Johnstown and the Jets were the backdrop and inspiration for Slap Shot. Our city’s players were on the ice as actors and our fans were in the stands. It’s still an honor that one of the best sports films would not have existed without us.”


Fyock is right. While Johnstown Jets player Ned Dowd was becoming a part of the city’s hockey history by playing on the ice, it would be his sister Nancy who would put hockey in Johnstown on the map. She wrote the screenplay, partially basing it on Ned’s experiences in minor league hockey. His teammates in real life would later become the actors who made up the Charlestown Chiefs’ roster. Apparently the set was a lot of fun, or so claims Carlson, who promises to share some behind-the scenes secrets with fans when he hosts a Q & A along with the film.


The film itself isn’t just appreciated for the laughter and hockey action it provides. There are quite a few standout facts about the movie that make it unique. For example, the movie meant a lot to legendary actor Paul Newman, who portrayed player-coach Reggie Dunlop. In 1982, he told TIME Magazine that Slap Shot was one of his favorite films to work on and that “unfortunately, that character is a lot closer to me than I would care to admit.”


Another intriguing fact? Slap Shot was translated into French, but not just standard French. Quebéc actors Yvan Ponton and Yvon Barrette, who played forward Jean-Guy Drouin and goaltender Denis Lemieux, respectively, helped to dub the film in colloquial Québécois French. It is one of very few American films to have done so.


The film has also received critical acclaim and won over movie fans across the country and the world, being placed on countless lists as one of the best sports films of all time.


With fictional Charleston literally right outside their own door, Johnstown residents are excited to relive the team that would eventually give them the real-life Chiefs.  


“It’s just going to be a lot of fun to show our love for hockey through the movie screening,” said Fyock. “We’re so lucky to have had hockey in this town and to continue to have it through the Tomahawks.”