The Johnstown Chiefs were a minor league ice hockey team located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, that played in the ECHL. The team was founded in 1987 in the All-American Hockey League, and moved to the East Coast Hockey League (now "ECHL") when that league was formed. The Chiefs lasted for 22 years in Johnstown, and was the last of the founding ECHL teams playing under its original name and in its original city. The Chiefs relocated to Greenville, South Carolina, following the completion of the 2010 season.
|Home arena||Cambria County War Memorial Arena|
|Colors||Black, gold, white|
|2010–2015||Greenville Road Warriors|
|2015–present||Greenville Swamp Rabbits|
|Regular season titles||None|
The owners originally wanted to name the team the Jets in honor of a team that had played in Johnstown from 1950 to 1977, mostly in the Eastern Hockey League. However, the old Jets' former owners still held the trademark for the name and refused to allow the new team to use it. A contest was held by the owners, allowing the people of Johnstown to vote for the new team name. The cult hockey movie Slap Shot had been filmed in Johnstown, and featured a minor league team called the Charlestown Chiefs. The fans readily jumped on the tie-in, and the Johnstown Chiefs were born.
The Chiefs played their home games in the historic 3,745 seat Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, where most of the hockey scenes in the movie Slap Shot were filmed. Despite popular belief, the Chiefs uniforms colors (black, gold, and white) were not chosen because of the local fans' connection to the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. Shortly after the emergency lease had been approved by the Cambria County War Memorial, head coach Joe Selenski traveled to Canada to find the team uniforms and called War Memorial Marketing Director Dennis Grenell at 3:00 AM to tell him that the only uniforms he could find were black and gold (similar to the Boston Bruins' uniforms of the 1970s), but he did not have enough money to buy them. Grennell agreed to pay for the uniforms using his own credit card. Coincidentally, the Chiefs' first minor league affiliation would be with the Boston Bruins.
The Chiefs along with the Wheeling Thunderbirds (now known as the Wheeling Nailers) played the role of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1995 film Sudden Death starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. The premise was the Penguins playing the Chicago Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup when terrorists attempt to hold the Vice President hostage in the arena.
On August 17, 2007, the Chiefs announced that they entered into an affiliation agreement with the NHL's Colorado Avalanche. During the 2007–08 season, the Chiefs served as the Avalanche's secondary minor league affiliate. On September 18, 2007, the Chiefs announced they had also entered an affiliation agreement with the Boston Bruins for the 2007–08 season.
Prior to the 2008–09 season the Chiefs re-signed their affiliation with the Avalanche and entered into an affiliation agreement with the Columbus Blue Jackets, replacing the Bruins, on August 22, 2008.
For the 2009–10 season, the Chiefs were the secondary minor league affiliate to the Minnesota Wild. Jeff Flanagan took up the role of head coach to start the year. After leading the team to an ECHL cellar dwelling 9–19–7 record, Flanagan was fired, replaced for the remainder of the season by majority owner Neil Smith on January 10, 2010.
In February 2010, the Tribune-Democrat reported that television reports from Greenville, South Carolina, stated that the Chiefs would be relocated to Greenville following the season and compete at the BI-LO Center. Greenville had previously been home to the Greenville Grrrowl, who played in the ECHL from 1998 to 2006 when the ECHL revoked Greenville's franchise rights. On February 17, 2010, the league announced that the Chiefs would be relocating to Greenville after the league's Board of Governors voted unanimously in favor of the move. News of the relocation also made the press in New York City, including the New York Times, due to Smith being the former president and governor of the New York Rangers and former general manager of the New York Islanders. The team, renamed the Greenville Road Warriors, then became affiliated with the Rangers.
The team played their final game as the Johnstown Chiefs on Saturday April 3, 2010. The result was a 5–3 loss to the Elmira Jackals. According to a pre-game address by minority owner Ned Nakles to the fans in attendance, the Chiefs name, logo, team records and history would not follow the franchise to Greenville, but would remain in Johnstown under ownership by a non-profit group to possibly be used again should a new team enter the ECHL in the city.
The Wheeling Nailers, the ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, announced prior to the Chiefs season finale that they would play 10 of their 36 regular season home games and one preseason game at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena during the 2010–11 ECHL season.
Records as of 2009–10 season.
|1988–89||ECHL||60||32||22||—||6||—||70||.583||295||251||Steve Carlson||Lost in Finals|
|1989–90||ECHL||60||23||31||—||6||—||52||.433||233||291||2047||Steve Carlson||Did not qualify|
|1990–91||ECHL||East||64||32||29||—||3||—||67||.523||324||287||1646||Steve Carlson||Lost in round 2|
|1991–92||ECHL||West||64||36||23||—||5||—||77||.601||294||248||1750||Steve Carlson||Lost in round 2|
|1992–93||ECHL||East||64||34||23||—||7||—||75||.585||281||264||1647||Ed Johnstone||Lost in round 2|
|1993–94||ECHL||North||68||37||27||—||4||—||78||.573||323||308||1978||Ed Johnstone||Lost in round 1|
|1994–95||ECHL||North||68||31||32||—||5||—||67||.492||256||297||1656||Ed Johnstone||Lost in round 1|
|1995–96||ECHL||North||70||21||38||—||11||—||53||.378||249||322||2481||Nick Fotiu||Did not qualify|
|1996–97||ECHL||North||70||24||39||7||—||—||55||.392||253||354||2287||Nick Fotiu||Did not qualify|
|Did not qualify|
|1998–99||ECHL||Northeast||70||27||34||9||—||—||63||.450||218||265||1734||Scott Allen||Did not qualify|
|1999–00||ECHL||Northwest||70||33||28||—||9||—||75||.535||235||234||1959||Scott Allen||Lost in round 3|
|2000–01||ECHL||Northwest||72||28||36||8||—||—||64||.444||207||238||1865||Scott Allen||Lost in round 2|
|2001–02||ECHL||Northwest||72||39||31||2||—||—||80||.555||220||232||1688||Scott Allen||Lost in round 3|
|2002–03||ECHL||Northwest||72||28||33||11||—||—||67||.465||214||243||1700||Toby O'Brien||Did not qualify|
|2003–04||ECHL||Northern||72||45||20||7||—||—||97||.673||223||195||1491||Toby O'Brien||Lost in Qualifier|
|2004–05||ECHL||North||72||22||36||14||—||—||58||.402||191||258||1421||Toby O'Brien||Did not qualify|
|2005–06||ECHL||North||72||30||26||16||—||—||76||.527||223||243||1119||Frank Anzalone||Lost in round 2|
|2006–07||ECHL||North||72||33||33||—||3||3||72||.500||216||232||1179||Frank Anzalone||Lost in round 1|
|2007–08||ECHL||North||72||36||30||—||3||3||78||.541||235||234||1568||Ian Herbers||Lost in round 2|
|2008–09||ECHL||North||72||37||30||—||5||0||79||.549||228||232||1472||Ian Herbers||Did not qualify|
|Did not qualify|
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses, SOL = Shootout losses, Pts = Points, PCT = Winning percentage, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes
- 1988–89: Defeated Knoxville 4-0 in semifinals; lost to Carolina 4–3 in finals.
- 1989–90: Did not qualify.
- 1990–91: Defeated Erie 3–2 in quarterfinals; lost to Hampton Roads 4–1 in semifinals.
- 1991–92: Defeated Erie 3–1 in first round; lost to Cincinnati 2–0 in quarterfinals.
- 1992–93: Defeated Richmond 1–0 in first round; lost to Wheeling 3–1 in quarterfinals.
- 1993–94: Lost to Columbus 2–1 in first round.
- 1994–95: Lost to South Carolina 3–1 in first round.
- 1995–96: Did not qualify.
- 1996–97: Did not qualify.
- 1997–98: Did not qualify.
- 1998–99: Did not qualify.
- 1999–00: Defeated Roanoke 3–1 in first round; lost to Peoria 3–0 in quarterfinals.
- 2000–01: Lost to Trenton 3–1 in first round.
- 2001–02: Defeated Peoria 3–2 in first round; lost to Dayton 3–0 in quarterfinals.
- 2002–03: Did not qualify.
- 2003–04: Lost to Reading 1–0 in qualifying round.
- 2004–05: Did not qualify.
- 2005–06: Defeated Trenton 2–0 in qualifying round; lost to Toledo 3–0 in first round.
- 2006–07: Lost to Trenton 2–0 in qualifying round.
- 2007–08: Defeated Dayton 2–0 in qualifying round; lost to Cincinnati 4–0 in first round.
- 2008–09: Did not qualify.
- 2009–10: Did not qualify.
Chiefs alumni who have played in the NHLEdit
The Chiefs retired four numbers: the numbers of Don Hall, Dick Roberge, Galen Head and Reg Kent, all of whom had played for the Johnstown Jets.
- 7 – Reg Kent, number retired on February 15, 2009 during a pregame ceremony prior to a game against the Wheeling Nailers.
- 8 – Galen Head, number retired by the Chiefs on October 18, 2003 during a pregame ceremony prior to a game against the Long Beach Ice Dogs
- 9 – Don Hall, Hall's #9 was originally retired by the Johnstown Jets on April 6, 1962. A separate ceremony involving a banner raising was held by the Johnstown Chiefs during the Chiefs' 1989-90 season.
- 11 – Dick Roberge, Roberge's #11 was originally retired by the Johnstown Jets without a ceremony after the completion of the 1971-72 season. A separate ceremony involving a banner raising was held by the Johnstown Chiefs during the Chiefs' 1989-90 season.
The following players were named to the ECHL All-Star team, announced at the end of the season.
- 1988-89, Scott Gordon, First Team, Goaltender
- 1988-89, Rob Hyrtsak, First Team, Center
- 1991-92, Mark Green, First Team, Left Wing
The following players received individual awards from the ECHL, announced at the end of the season.
- 1988-89, Scott Gordon, Top Goaltender
- 1988-89, Tom Sasso, ECHL Rookie of the Year
- Mancuso, Jim (2007), 20 Years of the ECHL, ECHL, pp. 4–6
- "ECHL Concludes Mid-Season Board of Governors Meeting" (Press release). ECHL. February 17, 2010. Archived from the original on May 12, 2010. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
- Mike Mastovich (2007-04-24). "History of the Chiefs: 1980s - Hockey-starved Community Falls For Rough-and-Tumble Team From The Very Start". Tribune-Democrat.com. Retrieved 2011-01-04.
- "Chiefs join forces with the Avalanche". Johnstown Chiefs. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- "Chiefs have something Bruin". Johnstown Chiefs. 2007-09-18. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
- "Chiefs renew affiliation with Avalanche". Johnstown Chiefs. 2008-08-18. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- "Chiefs join forces with Blue Jackets, Crunch". Johnstown Chiefs. 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- "Chiefs join forces with Penguins". Johnstown Chiefs. 2009-10-29. Retrieved 2009-10-29.
- "Johnstown Chiefs Fire Head Coach". WJACTV.com. 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
- Mastovich, Mike (February 13, 2010). "Rumors continue about Chiefs relocation". Tribune-Democrat. Archived from the original on September 13, 2012. Retrieved February 14, 2010.
- Mastovich, Mike (2010-04-04). "A sad night for Johnstown". The Tribune-Democrat. Retrieved 2010-05-03.
- "Season-by-season records". hockeydb.com. 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- News Release (February 14, 2009). "Chiefs burn Devils". OurSportsCentral.com. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
- News Release (October 11, 2003). "Chiefs To Retire Galen Head's #8". OurSportsCentral.com. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
- 1973-74 Johnstown Jets program
- 1988-89 ECHL Final Statistics, page 1