A Night on the Ice

So, my hometown is this little place in Pennsylvania called Johnstown. While I claim to be a Pittsburghian most of the time, the truth is I spent the first 18 years of my life in a place known mostly for it’s tendency to flood at inappropriate times.

However, there is apparently another tradition that I constantly forget about, and that tradition is Johnstown’s love for minor league hockey. As discussed in the new book Slap Shots and Snap Shots, Johnstown is a city that has for a long time had a love affair with minor league hockey. So much, in fact, that one of the 10 Greatest Sports Movies of all Time was filmed there in 1977: Slapshot.

Never let it be said that the city doesn’t respect it’s history. The city went on to rename it’s hockey team from the Johnstown Jets to the Johnstown Chiefs in honor of the film. And while the team has a record that causes many to weep uncontrollably, there are hockey DIE HARDS in the city of Johnstown. If Johnstown is really a mini-Pittsburgh, then the Chiefs are to Johnstown what the Steelers are to Pittsburgh (and if you don’t know Steeler-nation…TRUST ME. It’s pretty much a big deal.).

While I was home over the holidays, I got to attend a hockey game that was in celebration of the 30th anniversary of Slap Shot, as well as the publication of the book and the anniversary of hockey in the city of Johnstown. And what better way to celebrate than with the Hanson Brothers:

The guys were even good enough to help a longtime fan propose to his girlfriend on the ice in between periods. Talk about one HELL of a proposal, huh?

And talk about one hell of a night. The Chiefs got creamed, 3 to 1, but that’s not much of a shock. I honestly don’t remember much of the game, but we did have really amazing seats (I scored a seat in a luxury box for the game). Even more than that, it was getting to see a piece of hometown and cinema history.

All in all? Pretty cool night in Johnstown.