Hockey returning to Johnstown, Pa., inspiration for cult movie hit 'Slap Shot'

Joe Mandak, The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - The gritty western Pennsylvania city whose rich minor-league hockey history helped inspire the cult movie "Slap Shot" is getting another chance to support a hockey team — this time a junior league squad that's moving from Alaska.

Johnstown Sports Partners LLC is to announce the deal Thursday at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena, where the yet-to-be-renamed team will play.

James Bouchard, chairman and chief executive of private investment firm Esmark Inc., is leading the deal bringing the North American Hockey League's Alaska Avalanche to Johnstown, about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh.

"Slap Shot" was based on the Johnstown Jets, who played from 1950 until 1977 — the year the movie was released. The movie helped inspire the Johnstown Chiefs, another minor league team that moved to South Carolina two years ago.