Slap Shot: A Hockey Movie Filmed in Johnstown, PA!

Slap Shot: A Hockey Movie Filmed in Johnstown, PA!

The Iconic movie Slap Shot is a 1977 comedy film directed by George Roy Hill, written by Nancy Dowd and starring Paul Newman and Michael Ontkean.  It depicts a minor league hockey team that resorts to violent play to gain popularity in a declining factory town. (Source: The town chosen as the real-world backdrop for this film was Johnstown, PA!
How the story developed: Nancy Dowd, who wrote the screenplay, based it on her brother Ned Dowd’s experiences playing minor league hockey in the US in the 1970’s when violence, especially in the minor leagues, was a selling point of the game. 
Nancy used Ned and a number of his Johnstown Jets teammates in Slap Shot, with Ned actually portraying Syracuse goon “Ogie Ogilthorpe.” The characters of the “Hanson Brothers” are based on three actual brothers: Jeff, Steve and Jack Carlson, who played on the Johnstown Jets. The three brothers were originally scripted to play themselves, using the “Hanson Brothers” name. However by the time filming began, Jack was called up by the Edmonton Oilers, then of the WHA, to play in the playoffs. Dave Hanson, also an actual Jets player known as “Killer” Hanson, was originally scripted to play himself in the film; however, when Jack was unable to play his role, Dave was moved into the role of the third “Hanson” brother and actor Jerry Houser was hired to play “Killer Carlson.”
Paul Newman, claiming that he swore very little in real life before the making of Slap Shot, said to Time magazine in 1984, “There’s a hangover from characters sometimes. There are things that stick. Since Slap Shot, my language is right out of the locker room!”
Newman also stated publicly that the most fun he ever had making a movie was on Slap Shot, as he had played the sport while young and was fascinated by the real players around him. He also said that playing Reggie Dunlop was one of his favorite roles.
The city of Johnstown was chosen to portray “Charlestown” for the movie.  Most of the filming was done here and several players from the then-active North American Hockey League Johnstown Jets were used as extras.  Others sites and arenas used were Starr Arena in Hamilton, New York, the Utica Auditorium (used as “Peterborough” where the pre-game fight occurs and where Hanson reprimands the referee for talking during the National Anthem), Onondaga County War Memorial in Syracuse, New York (used as “Hyannisport”  where the Hanson Brothers charge into the stands to accost a fan and are subsequently arrested) and the other Johnstown locales.

Revisiting Slap Shot 45 Years Later with Steve Carlson (Steve Hanson)

Take the Slapshot Movie Tour!

Take the Tour!

This tour is a self-guided trip to some of the most recognizeable downtown locations in the movie Slap Shot! This tour will include text and audio about each location, to give a rich background of the film's roots in Johnstown, PA. Find the tour here on the app!

Slap Shot Museum and War Memorial Arena

Take a brief detour through history at the Slap Shot museum located in the 1st Summit Arena at the Cambria County War Memorial during the next hockey game or sporting event! This museum contains memrobilia from the movie and other interesting photos and information about the history it has here in downtown Johnstown.

326 Napoleon St #1780,
Johnstown, PA 15901

(814) 536-5156

Key Movie Locations

Johnstown Amtrak Station, 47 Walnut Street

The first time the Hanson brothers are seen is at the Train Station and are busy “assaulting” a soda machine that has taken their quarter but given no soda.  Coach Reg Dunlop (Paul Newman) has arrived to escort them to their hotel room and inform them of the game schedule.

Penn Traffic Building/Hendler Hotel, 300 Washington Street 

Turn onto Washington Street, on the left is the Penn Traffic Building, site of the former Penn Traffic Department Store which was the location of the fashion show scene. Across the street is the location of the Hendler Hotel. It was to this local establishment that the Hanson brothers were escorted after their arrival in Johnstown. The Hendler was later demolished and the site is now the location of  the Social Security office.

Morley’s Dog and Central Park

On the return into downtown, turn right onto Washington St., then left onto Market St. Traveling toward Main St., there is a replica of Morley’s Dog in the Morley’s Dog Plaza located at the corner of Main and Market Streets.  This dog was featured in the movie and was credited by Paul Newman as saving the town from a devastating flood. This story has stuck to Morley’s Dog, even though that is not his true legacy. In reality the dog was a garden statue at the time of the Great Flood of 1889 and was recovered and returned to the Morley family. They later donated the dog to the City of Johnstown and he has stood in his plaza for many years.