Kraft Hockeyville: Passionate Hockey In Johnstown, Pa.

Passionate Hockey In Johnstown, Pa. - By Holly Lees

I would like to nominate the War Memorial rink and the hockey fans of Johnstown, Pa., for Kraft Hockeyville USA™ because I believe this town is a very passionate hockey community.

There is a rich hockey heritage here. I remember as a teenager attending hockey games of the Johnstown Jets at the War Memorial. The movie “Slap Shot” was filmed here, which to this day has a “cult” following with hockey enthusiasts even though it was filmed in 1977. The Johnstown Chiefs played here until they moved to South Carolina in 2010. In 2012, the Alaska Avalanche team was sold and became the Johnstown Tomahawks, a junior hockey team which has widespread support in this area.

This area has a passion about hockey that would rival that of an NHL® team. Every year more children are enrolled in youth hockey programs throughout the area, including the “Little Pens” program, supported by the Pittsburgh Penguins, for children 4-7 years, and it just continues from there into all kinds of youth hockey and high school hockey.

The War Memorial has seen better days and could certainly use some upgrades, including some issues with the ice making equipment, and particularly with the scoreboard, which doesn’t always work correctly. In spite of this, the fans support the teams that play in the War Memorial, and the attendance at the Johnstown Tomahawks games is very good.

Over the years, there have been many young men who have made their debut on the ice here but eventually played in the NHL®, including 46 of the old Johnstown Jets, and 31 of the Johnstown Chiefs. We are anxiously awaiting the first Johnstown Tomahawk to be drafted to the NHL®, and the city will just celebrate with delight.

I am a grandmother who has watched this town recover from many economic calamities and the 1977 Johnstown flood, but people have never lost their passion for this game, even when things looked bleak and without hope.

It is exciting to look back, and to look forward at my age and still see the excitement that people have for this game and for the kids that play it, no matter what happens. I now have a 5-year-old grandson learning to play hockey, and hope that he also will appreciate the great hockey heritage in this community, which is why I am nominating Johnstown, Pa., as the most passionate hockey community.



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