If the Johnstown Chiefs are lucky, history will repeat itself in the coming days, weeks and months.

The last time a Johnstown ECHL team went this long without a win at the season’s outset was 12 years ago.

Those Chiefs, under Eddie Johnstone, slipped to an 0-4-1 start before winning their first game on Oct. 30.

This year, first-year Johnstown coach Frank Anzalone’s charges are 0-3-2 and staring at a tough road trip to Trenton on Friday. The Chiefs don’t want to become the first team in Johnstown’s 18-season ECHL history to go winless in six games to open a season.

“I don’t think anyone in sports wants to start 0-3-2,” Chiefs General Manager and former coach Toby O’Brien said Tuesday at Cambria County War Memorial Arena. “We’ve had leads in the third period or have led in every game including our exhibition games with the exception of Saturday’s loss in Toledo. It’s just a learning experience. We’re playing a system that is different than a lot of players have played in the past.

“Frank Anzalone is doing a great job of teaching them. The players have practiced and put in a great deal of time and effort in learning. Once this is achieved by 20 people, I think this is going to be a dangerous team down the road.”

That brings us back to 1993-94. It’s been a long time and hockey most certainly has changed in the past decade. This group of Chiefs has nothing to do with that bunch. In fact, most of these guys were pre-teens at the time.

But that 1993-94 Chiefs team proved that a terrible start doesn’t necessarily translate into an awful finish.

Those Chiefs ended the winless skid with a 7-1 pounding over the Erie Panthers on the road on Oct. 30. Neither head coach was on the bench because both were serving suspensions stemming from incidents during a meeting between the intrastate rivals at Johnstown less than a week earlier.

Erie coach Ron Hansis had even thrown a water bottle at Johnstone. And – does this sound familiar? – in that Oct. 24, 1993 game at the War Memorial, the Chiefs held a comfortable 5-1 second-period advantage before Erie stormed back to win 6-5 in OT.

Those Chiefs were outscored 37-16 over the first five games. The present Chiefs held four leads, lost three one-goal games and only have been outscored 21-12.

“In the here and now, we’ll try to identify the fixable problems, fix those and continue to teach new things,” O’Brien said.

But, just for kicks, let’s review one last fact about those 1993-94 Chiefs.

From Dec. 12, 1993 through Jan. 7, 1994, Johnstown went on a team-record 10-game winning streak, a mark that hasn’t even remotely been threatened since.

Johnstone’s Chiefs finished the year with what was then a record 37 wins.



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Fresno’s Luke Curtin is ECHL Player of the Week with five goals and eight points, including a team-record four goals in a 5-2 win at Long Beach. ... Alaska’s Chris Beckford-Tseu is the Goalie of the Week with a 2-0-0 record, 0.50 GAA and .981 save percentage. He stopped 52 of 53 shots. ... The league continues to crack down on fighting and rough play. San Diego’s Doug MacIver was suspended five games for a “fisticuffs” incident, and Alaska’s Zack Fitzgerald received a 10-game suspension for a major boarding incident.

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