The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

February 25, 2007

Snapshots from Slap Shot


Thirty years later, players and actors who appeared in “Slap Shot” recall their time in Johnstown as if it happened this hockey season.

They now work and live in places such as New York City, Pittsburgh, Quebec, Kenosha, Wisc., Burlington, Vt., and Tillsonburg, Ontario.

But for one season in the movies, they were a part of Johnstown.

Here are their stories – tidbits to ponder the next time you pop “Slap Shot” in the VCR or DVD player:

Andrew Duncan

Character: Charlestown Chiefs broadcaster Jim Carr

On a bad hair day: “I remember watching the local sportscaster in Johnstown and studying him. That was the guy I was playing. When I went for the wig, (director) George Roy Hill said, ‘I don’t care what you get, just get something outrageous.’

“I went to Glosser’s and went to the wig department. The stylist started showing me wigs that made it look like you didn’t have a wig. I said, ‘No.’ Then I saw one she pushed aside and I said, ‘That’s the one.’ I stuck it on my head and looked in the mirror and started laughing. George looked at me and started laughing. He said, ‘If you dare, I dare.’ ”

Yvon Barrette

Character: Denis Lemieux

On how he landed the role of the likeable Chiefs goalie: “I played hockey for fun as an amateur, but I am an actor (not a hockey player). I had to audition in Montreal. There was something like five other people. They were looking for a short French Canadian.

“We had a lot of fun doing that. The character was funny. It was fantastic for a young actor, 29, to work with an actor like Paul Newman and a great director like George Roy Hill.”

Paul D’Amato

Character: Tim “Dr. Hook” McCracken

On acting with Newman and hockey players: “That set was so comfortable between the actors and the hockey players. We had all gone to hockey practice, we had all played for many years. It was second nature. The acting, I had studied for years and had gone to college for it.

“While I was in college studying acting, I played hockey. It was taking some of the things I did best and putting them together. I wasn’t the only one. Everybody else was like that.

“It was not intimidating. It could have been intimidating, but Paul Newman was such a good guy, Strother Martin was such a good guy.”

Christopher Murney

Character: Long Island Ducks goaltender Tommy Hanrahan

On an impromptu college reunion: “I grew up in New England and I played pond hockey. I went to the University of New Hampshire with (“Slap Shot” actor) Mike Ontkean. He used to watch me do plays in the Theater Deptartment and I used to watch him play.”

John Gofton

Character: Presidents forward Nick Brophy

On getting wet in the infamous boarding scene: “That’s 30 years ago. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for people like us who never get that opportunity. The scene – you just tried to let it happen. The boarding scene, we did it 13 times before they picked what they needed. The real big part was when I got rammed into the boards and came off the boards crossing my legs like I peed my pants.”

Allan Nicholls

Character: Chiefs captain Johnny Upton

On saying good-bye to Johnstown: “I got to know a lot of the people in Johnstown. We had created kind of a mini “Slap Shot” society and we formed bonds with a lot of the citizens there.

“It was a celebration of a style of hockey and some hockey renegades, but also was a celebration of small-town minor league hockey. I remember when we left town, we left in a bus. People were standing outside the hotel and waving good-bye. It was a nice little send off. On those little signs at the hotel it said, ‘Good bye Slap Shot.’”

Steve Carlson

Character: Steve Hanson

On a hockey player’s approach to filmmaking: “That’s when I was 19 or 20. I got a nice paycheck. You look at it that way. They offer for you to do a film. You don’t realize how big it is until 10, 20, 30 years later. You don’t realize that as you’re making the film. You’re saying, ‘We’ll do it. Why not?’ ”

Dave Hanson

Character: Jack Hanson

On life in the movies: “We didn’t think it was going to be huge at all. That wasn’t even a thought in our mind when we were filming.

“At the time it was a fun summer thing to do. They offered us a seven-year movie contract after that. We said, ‘We’re not movie actors, we’re hockey players.’ We turned them down.”