'Slap Shot' at 40 notebook: ‘Other’ Hanson Brother missed movie but played in NHL

Tomahawks players (from left) Daniil Bokun, Josh Biasillo, Donovan Ott and Andrew Quetell celebrate a goal on Saturday during the team’s victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. The Tomahawks wore special jerseys during a day honoring the 40th anniversary of the iconic movie “Slap Shot.”

“Slap Shot” aficionados know the iconic trio of the the Hanson Brothers is based on the personalities of the Johnstown Jets’ Carlson Brothers – Steve, Jeff and Jack – who played for the Johnstown Jets in 1974-75.

Jack played 50 games for the Jets in ’74. He scored 27 goals and had 22 assists before his call-up to the World Hockey Association’s Minnesota Fighting Saints. 

Jack Carlson never returned to play in Johnstown.’

The promotion actually prevented Jack from being a part of a North American Hockey League championship and movie-making history.

The Johnstown Jets won the professional NAHL championship and inspired Nancy Dowd’s screenplay for “Slap Shot,” filmed in Johnstown in 1976.

Dowd switched two surnames of Jets players for the movie’s Charlestown Chiefs in the fictional Federal League.

Jets player Dave “Killer” Hanson was the inspiration for “Slap Shot’s” Dave “Killer” Carlson, played by actor Jerry Houser.

The Carlson Brothers became the Hanson Brothers, played by Steve and Jeff Carlson, and Dave Hanson.

Dave Hanson filled in for Jack Carlson in the movie.

The real-life Hanson had lived with the Carlson brothers during their playing days in Johnstown.

“Whenever Jack got called up, they just threw me in there because we just clicked right away,” Dave Hanson said. “It’s just funny how it all worked out when Jack got called up. The real Hanson became a Hanson Brother, but the real brothers are still Carlsons.”

Jack Carlson played 236 NHL games from 1978 to 1987 for the Minnesota North Stars and St. Louis Blues. In his NHL career, Jack scored 30 goals and had 15 assists.

But there isn’t any animosity by missing out on being in the film. Steve Carlson said that Jack occasionally will fill in for Hanson Brothers events.

“He had a great WHA and NHL career,” Steve Carlson said. “We did one film and Jack played 12 years of great hockey. So there is no bitterness.”

Steve Carlson played 52 games for the Los Angeles Kings in 1979-80 season. 

He scored nine goals and 12 assists. 

Dave Hanson appeared in 33 NHL games with the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota North Stars.

‘A great bunch of kids’

John Mavrodis, retired owner of Johnnie’s Restaurant, received big hugs from Steve Carlson and Dave Hanson when they saw him in the War Memorial concourse during the Tomahawks game on Saturday afternoon.

Mavrodis was a huge supporter of hockey in Johnstown and was a key player behind the scenes for many years on the professional level.

“After they won the championship, I was in Section 4,” Mavrodis said, referring to the Johnstown Jets title-clinching win over Binghamton in the 1974-75 championship series. “(Former Jet) Johnny Gofton came up and gave me his hockey stick. They were like sons to me. Great guys. A great bunch of kids.”

As for Saturday’s “Slap Shot” at 40 celebration, Mavrodis said, “Just like old times.”

The book on ‘Slap Shot’

Canadian author Jonathon Jackson returned to Johnstown for the first time in 10 years on Saturday.

Jackson wrote the book “The Making of Slap Shot,” which was published in 2010. 

He spent time in Johnstown three years earlier to research the book and gather interviews. 

His book provides some great insight on the movie and included one of the last interviews with Paul Newman about “Slap Shot” in 2007.

“This is monumental,” Jackson said of Saturday’s “Slap Shot” celebration. “I’m really happy to be back in Johnstown for this. I almost can’t believe it’s still going on, and yet at the same time it’s not really a surprise because of the love people have for this movie. It’s neverending.”

Jackson said he intends to update the book, which made this visit a two-pronged journey.

“The people here, I got a sense they are really proud of the movie, their place in it and the legacy of the film,” said Jackson, 47, of Guelph, Ontario. “Everybody just seemed really thrilled to be a part of it. I had cooperation from everybody I met. I had a good time when I was here.”

Masked man

Johnstown’s Scott Wertz played goaltender during the Boys are Back in Town game on Saturday afternoon with a specially designed mask.

Wertz, who has been part of the local hockey scene as a player, coach and in an NAHL administrative role with the former Keystone Ice Miners, had his head gear painted to commemorate all the teams he’s been involved with as well as a tribute to his late father, the late Dave “Ziggy” Zeigler, the late Pat “Stu” Stewart and veterans of the U.S. Armed Services.

The mask had logos of Forest Hills and Ferndale high schools, Pitt-Johnstown IceCats, Johnstown Tomahawks, Johnstown Chiefs, Keystone Ice Miners and Toledo Storm, an ECHL team with whom Wertz served as an emergency goaltender for one game in 1995.

Scott Williams of Kittanning painted the mask.

“I know my dad would have loved this,” said Wertz, 40, who is head baker at Olde Towne Bakery in Somerset.

Happy Hawks

The Johnstown Tomahawks had a big weekend with two wins played in front of large crowds at the War Memorial.

On Friday night the Hawks beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in front of a sellout crowd as Josh Gallagher of Cresson and NBC’s “The Voice” fame, made an appearance.

Saturday’s game attracted 2,631 fans despite a noon start and the Pittsburgh Penguins-Philadelphia Flyers outdoor game at Heinz Stadium set for later that night.

The Boys are Back in Town event helped fill many seats.

“This has been a great, exciting weekend for the whole town, the arena and our fans,” Tomahawks President Richard Bouchard said.“This was a chance to see a part of history and is another example of how over the five years the Tomahawks have been here we continue to bring the fans what they want.”

Hitting a high note

Allan Nicholls displayed his patriotism prior to his participation in the ceremonial first puck drop at the Tomahawks game.

Nicholls, who played Charlestown Chiefs captain Johnny Upton in the movie, is a native of Montreal.

He sang along as “O Canada,” his country’s national anthem, was played before the Star Spangled Banner.

Nicholls carried the tune well, and he elevated the volume after encouragement from Houser.

‘We’re on the road’

Steve Carlson’s wife, Vicki, organized much of the Boys are Back activities, including her designing a logo for T-shirts and pucks as well as a special “Slap Shot” 40 patch the players wore on their jerseys during the celebrity game.

Vicki said 160 people filled three buses for the tour of Johnstown and visit to the Inclined Plane on Saturday morning. 

The buses later transported the group to Ace’s in Cambria City for dinner and to Westwood Plaza Theatre for a screening of “Slap Shot.”

“I think everything went well. It was a success. A lot of happy fans,” Vicki said. 

“We had 160 people on the buses from all over. We made fans happy, and that’s our goal. 

“I wanted to honor my husband because he deserves it. What better opportunity to do so than on the 40th?”

Ed Sedlock is a news assistant for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @ESedlock_TD.

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