Slap Shot 40th

"Hanson Brothers" Dave Hanson, left, and Steve Carlson celebrate a goal during a celebrity hockey game during the 40th anniversary celebration for the movie "Slap Shot," Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown. "Slap Shot" was filmed in Johnstown in 1976 and released Feb. 25, 1977.

The boys were back in town on Saturday afternoon at Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

The 40th anniversary celebration of “Slap Shot” had fans reciting lines from the hockey-themed movie while posing for photographs with seven actors who had parts in the Paul Newman motion picture filmed in Johnstown.

“Most of the time, they like repeating the lines,” said Jerry Houser, who played Dave “Killer” Carlson in the movie. “It’s great. Just seeing the delight in people about the movie and having a chance to meet us has been wonderful.

"The people are really nice. It’s a cool town.”

Borrowing one of “Killer” Carlson’s most memorable lines, Houser yelled, “Take that sentence back,” to a group of fans who snapped his picture in the Cambria County War Memorial Arena concourse.

Steve Carlson – one of the movie's beloved Hanson Brothers – and his wife, Vicki, organized the Boys are Back in Town event with activities from the morning until an evening showing of “Slap Shot” at the Westwood Plaza Theatre.

The film debuted on Feb. 25, 1977 and remains an iconic hit and one of the most popular sports movies of all time.

Screenwriter Nancy Dowd based “Slap Shot” on the 1974-75 Johnstown Jets championship team after she spent part of the season with her brother, Ned Dowd, a player for the Jets. The movie was filmed in Johnstown from March 22 to June 9, 1976.

The cast members dropped the ceremonial first puck before the Johnstown Tomahawks’ dramatic 3-2 overtime shootout victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights.

A crowd of 2,631 roared.

Throughout the Tomahawks game, the Hanson Brothers – Steve and Jeff Carlson, and Dave Hanson – joined fellow characters “Killer” Carlson (Houser), Johnny Upton (Allan Nicholls), Denis Lemieux (Yvon Barrette) and Billy Charlebois (former Johnstown Jets player Guido Tenesi). They interacted with fans, signed autographs, posed for photographs and simply had fun.

After the NAHL game, the arena emptied and a second crowd of nearly 1,000 returned to watch the Boys are Back in Town alumni game, which was a separate event from the Tomahawks game.

The Syracuse Bulldogs defeated the Charlestown Chiefs 7-6 in a contest filled with wild antics, trick plays, 1970s-era music and interviews on the bench and in the penalty box – which was frequently occupied.

“I could’ve scored a couple goals but that would have been way out of character,” said Dave Hanson, the former Johnstown Jets defenseman who plays Jack Hanson in the movie and inspired the character Dave “Killer” Carlson.

“I’ve got to honestly say it’s been a blast," Hanson said. "Getting together with these people who are here for the movie ‘Slap Shot’ and being able to be a part of their experience makes this whole experience for me great.”

The day began with a 45-minute bus tour of Johnstown and a stop atop the Inclined Plane. After the alumni game, the schedule included a banquet at Ace’s in Cambria City – one of Paul Newman's Reg Dunlop character's favorite night spots. The night was capped with a screening of “Slap Shot” at Westwood Plaza Theatre, where the movie debuted locally 40 years ago.

“It’s really a blessing. I’m humbled by it,” Steve Carlson said of the anniversary events. “Being in Johnstown for the 40th is just humbling.”

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

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Sports Reporter

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.

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