Buffalo Norsemen

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Buffalo Norsemen
Buffalo norsemen.png
City North Tonawanda, New York
League North American Hockey League
Division West
Operated 1975—1976
Home arena Tonawanda Sports Center
Colors White, Green, Gold
Owner(s) Dr. Dudley Turecki & Peter Gambino
General manager Willie Marshall
Head coach Guy Trottier
Captain Steve Atkinson

The Buffalo Norsemen played in the old North American Hockey League (NAHL) during the 1975–76 season, playing their home games in North Tonawanda, New York, a suburb of Buffalo 12 miles to the north, at the Tonawanda Sports Center, a now-defunct ice rink that currently houses an indoor soccer field.

An incident at a Norsemen playoff game that season was portrayed in the movie Slap Shot. A regular season game in the film between the Charlestown Chiefs and the Peterboro Patriots is based on a real game between the Norsemen and the Johnstown Jets, the team that the Charlestown Chiefs were based on, during the NAHL playoffs. In the film, the Hanson Brothers start a brawl with the Bulldogs during the pre-game skate. The real-life incident occurred in Johnstown with the Jets leading the playoff series 3 games to 2. Steve, Jeff and Jack Carlson, three brothers who Slapshot's Hanson brothers were based on, started a brawl with the Norsemen during the pre-game skate in retaliation for Norsemen fans bigoted actions towards an African-American player on the Johnstown roster at the previous three games in the series, which had been played in North Tonawanda. In an ugly incident, a number of Norsemen fans had hurled racial epithets at the player, and some held up derogatory signs, including one stating that blacks should be playing basketball, not hockey. After the brawl in Johnstown had been broken up by the officials, the Norsemen players and coaches returned to the dressing room and refused to come out to start the game. According to the Johnstown Jets' Dave Hanson, who the Slap Shot character of Dave "Killer" Carlson was based on, "they (the Norsemen) skated off the ice and went into the locker room and refused to come out to play the game, and we won the game and the series by forfeit."[1]

In an interesting twist of fate, in 1978 the NHL's Buffalo Sabres drafted a black player, Tony McKegney, who became the first black player to make a major impact in the NHL. McKegney, who was quite popular with Sabres fans, played his home games in front of many of the same fans who had attended Buffalo Norsemen games. McKegney had no complaints about his treatment in Buffalo, stating that Western New York's fans treated him "royally."[2]

NHL alumni[edit]

The following Buffalo Norsemen players also played in the National Hockey League:[3]

External links[edit]