In 1950, Johnstown, PA built the 3,745 seat War Memorial Arena, and welcomed the brand new EAHL hockey team, the Johnstown Jets. The jets would become a mainstay in Johnstown, fueling a then thriving coal and steel town’s passion for hockey. The Jets won consecutive EHL championships in 1951–52 and 1952–53.
The Jets would join the International Hockey League (IHL), Eastern Hockey League (EHL), and the North American Hockey League (NAHL) before they closed up shop. After joining the new NAHL in 1973, Dick Roberge coached Johnstown to the Lockhart Cup championship 1974–75.
For me, the most notable part of that season's playoff run included the Carlson brothers, Jeff, Jack and Steve, who became the basis for the Hanson Brothers in the movie Slap Shot. Jeff and Steve Carlson portrayed their fictional selves in the movie, while former Jet Dave Hanson portrayed Jack. The Jets played four seasons total in the NAHL before the league folded in 1977. The team itself folded in the offseason, when the Johnstown flood of 1977 that damaged the arena's ice making equipment.
Johnstown hockey didn’t stop there…
In 1988, Johnstown was granted another hockey franchise, which would play in the All-American Hockey League, and ultimately the East Coast Hockey League. The owners originally wanted to name the team the Jets in honor of a team that had played in Johnstown from 1950 to 1977. However, the old Jets' former owners still held the trademark for the name and refused to allow the new team to use it. Fortunately, they had a second choice. A contest was held by the owners, allowing the people of Johnstown to vote for the new team name. Since the now cult hockey movie Slap Shot had been filmed in Johnstown, used the War Memorial Arena for most of the films hockey scenes, and featured a minor league team called the Charlestown Chiefs, the fans readily jumped on the tie-in, and the Johnstown Chiefs were born. It should be noted that the great Paul Newman had said in many interviews that filming Slap Shot in Johnstown was one of the best times of his life.
This shirt was made to celebrate the 60 years of Johnstown hockey. Unfortunately, Johnstown lost the Chiefs franchise to Greenville, SC after a long, bitter battle between the fans and ownership. Johnstown retained ownership of the name and records, so if a new franchise is awarded, they can be used.
This Jets logo was the last one used by the team before the 1977 Johnstown flood, which ultimately killed the team.
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