The SLAPSHOT Cup Hockey Tournament enters its fourth year at Cambria County War Memorial Arena and Planet Ice today with 18 teams competing in three divisions from age 21 to 50-and-over.
“It’s been great every year. We’re becoming more and more established,” said Tournament Director Josh Piro, a former four-time state champion forward at Bishop McCort High School who went on to play in the ECHL with the Johnstown Chiefs. “We’re attracting new teams and a lot of teams that came here in the past want to continue to come here.
“We started out hoping this would be a tradition and we feel it’s a tradition now. A lot of former Johnstown Chiefs come back. A lot of people in the community have stepped up to make the tournament possible. A lot of businesses and a lot of volunteers have come forward.”
The tournament begins at noon today at the War Memorial and at 2 p.m. at Planet Ice in Richland Township.
There are divisions for age 21-and-over; 35-and-over; and 50-and-over.
A Johnstown Chiefs alumni team, with a core group of original 1988 Chiefs, will make its fourth appearance.
“All the Chiefs guys are coming back again. They’re pumped up,” said Piro, who currently coaches women’s hockey at Elmira College. “Guys like Scott Rettew, Sam Farace, Dan Pineau, Rob Hrytsak, Rick Boyd, Harold Ochs, Jeff Salzbrunn and Dwight Boss will be here.”
The 21-and-over division includes teams from Altoona, Elmira (N.Y.), Johnstown, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Slippery Rock, Syracuse, Thunder Bay (Mich.), Washington and York.
The 35-and-over has teams from Cambria County, Chiefs Alumni and Delmont/Pittsburgh.
The 50-and-over division has teams from Johnstown, Ebensburg and Pittsburgh as well as Syracuse, Bethlehem and New York.
Former Johnstown Jets standout and “Slap Shot” star Dave Hanson will attend on Saturday and be available for photographs and autographs.
“He’s just down the road in Pittsburgh,” Piro said. “I’ve known Dave for a long time. He’s excited to come back to Johnstown, where he once played and where ‘Slap Shot’ originated. It’s great that he’s coming down. A lot of guys want to meet him. People playing in the tournament and the fans will have an opportunity to hang around with Dave. He has a soft spot in his heart for Johnstown.”
This year the tournament will honor Scott and Cindy McLachlan, owners of Scott’s By Dam, a Market Street bar and restaurant adjacent to the War Memorial and a mainstay for hockey fans and players over the years.
The SLAPSHOT Cup organizers will team with the NAHL’s Johnstown Tomahawks.
“We’re working in conjunction with the Tomahawks. Everyone who plays in the tournament gets to go to the Tomahawks games on Saturday and Sunday,” Piro said. “We’ve got all these guys here who love hockey. Why not get them a ticket? It works for us and it helps the Tomahawks. They’re great to work with.”
Piro also appreciated the Pittsburgh Penguins providing four autographed, game-used sticks that will be auctioned. The sticks were used by James Neal, Brooks Orpik, Douglas Murray and Pascal Dupuis, said Piro, who is assisted by tournament committee members Marla Kelley and David Piro, his father.