|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 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.
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. Fortunately, they had a second choice. 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 Bruins' uniforms of the 1970s), but he didn't 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.
Among the franchise's notable players were:
- Brent Bilodeau, long time captain who skated with the Chiefs from 1999 until his retirement in 2005. His 414 games played is the second highest total in Chiefs' history.
- Bruce Coles, who holds the Chiefs' career mark for points scored with 227, having played in only 132 games for the team
- Frederic Deschênes, who led the franchise in goaltending games with 152, 69 regular season wins, and 5 regular season shutouts.
- Perry Florio, former all-star defenseman, the franchise's career assist leader with 171
- Mark Green, holds the single-season Chiefs record for goals scored with 68.
- Scott Gordon, the team's starting goalie in 1988–89, Gordon became the first ECHL player to advance to the NHL when he suited up for the Quebec Nordiques in 1989–90. He also played for Team USA at the 1992 Winter Olympics and later went on to become the head coach of the New York Islanders.
- Arturs Irbe, a former NHL All-Star goaltender, Irbe played for the Chiefs briefly in 2003–2004, going 10–3–1 with a GAA of 2.13 and a .927 save percentage and was named to the ECHL All-Star team in 2004 but did not play due to an injury.
- Lukáš Smítal, the career goal scoring leader with 107.
- Jeff Sullivan, the career penalty minute leader with 1205 PIM.
- Dmitri Tarabrin, the career leader in games played with 480 and the only player in Chiefs' history to have his numbered retired.
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 07–08 season.
Prior to the 2008–09 season the Chiefs restored their affiliation with the Avalanche and entered into an affiliation agreement with the Columbus Blue Jackets who replaced 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 2009-10 season and compete at the BI-LO Center. Greenville had previously been home to the Greenville Grrrowl, who played in the ECHL from 1998-06 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, are affiliated with the Rangers, a legacy of the relocation.
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 team 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.
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.
Records as of 2009–10 season.
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||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||Out of playoffs|
|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||Out of Playoffs|
|1996–97||ECHL||North||70||24||39||7||-||-||55||.392||253||354||2287||Nick Fotiu||Out of Playoffs|
|Out of Playoffs|
|1998–99||ECHL||Northeast||70||27||34||9||-||-||63||.450||218||265||1734||Scott Allen||Out of Playoffs|
|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||Out of Playoffs|
|2003–04||ECHL||Northern||72||45||20||7||-||-||97||.673||223||195||1491||Toby O'Brien||Lost in Q/R|
|2004–05||ECHL||North||72||22||36||14||-||-||58||.402||191||258||1421||Toby O'Brien||Out of Playoffs|
|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||Out of Playoffs|
|Out of Playoffs|
- 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 NHL
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. Former Chiefs forward Dmitri Tarabrin had his number retired by the Wheeling Nailers in December 2010, during a "split home game" played in Johnstown.
- 7 - Reg Kent, number retired in 2009.
- 8 - Galen Head, number retired in 2003
- 9 - Don Hall, number retired in 1990
- 11 - Dick Roberge, number retired in 1990
- 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. 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. 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.