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April 3, 2010

Mike Mastovich: 10 Defining moments in Chiefs history



9. Hanson Brothers return, New Year’s Eve 1998. A loud clanging noise echoed through the corridors at the Amtrak railroad station.

Steve and Jeff Carlson, also known as Steve and Jeff Hanson in the movie “Slap Shot,” were reprising their roles by shaking a soda vending machine and yelling that it had taken their quarter. The two brothers and Jeff Hanson, who completed the bespectacled trio of zany skaters in the movie, made their return to Johnstown ice on New Year’s Eve.

The Hansons had rekindled international fame in the 1990s during promotional acts and appearances. They had a series of Bud Ice beer commercials and eventually participated in two movie sequels. But they hadn’t performed their wild act in the arena where they were star players on a championship team before they began their acting careers in the same building.

A crowd of 4,063 was in a festive mood as the Hansons performed and the Chiefs, wearing Charlestown Chiefs replica jerseys, defeated the Chesapeake Icebreakers 3-0.

10. “This is the last season. It will be announced tomorrow...” Feb. 14, 2010. Citing financial losses that had built over the years as well as his inability to find a local owner or investor, majority owner-coach Neil Smith announced that the team will move to Greenville, S.C., next season. Chiefs fans had braced for such an announcement for years but the reality still was like a figurative punch to the gut.

Honorable mention moments: Former NHL goalie Arturs Irbe’s stay in 2003-04; Matt Glennon’s striptease skate in 1991-92; Lukas Smital’s record 107th goal on March 14, 2003; Johnstown’s record 10-game winning streak from Dec. 12, 1993 through Jan. 7, 1994; Tom Sasso earning rookie of the year in 1989; goalie Scott Gordon becoming the first Chief to play in the NHL and the Olympics; the Chiefs facing Manon Rheaume, a female goaltender on Nov. 6, 1993; coach Nick Fotiu pulling the team from the ice 23 seconds into a home game against Wheeling after referee Chris Rooney gave Brandon Christian a game misconduct for pummeling Martin LePage after the opening face-off; the Ned Nakles Jr.-GM Les Crooks promotions from 1993-95 such as the Elvis impersonator donut eating contest, Turn Back the Clock Night and appearances by Wild Thing and the Happy Trumpeter; and the Chiefs’ ability to cope with the partial collapse of the new roof and part of a wall at the War Memorial under the weight of ice and snow on Feb. 6, 2004.

Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat.


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