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Minnesota Hockey & Hollywood

The land of 10,000 lakes, and Hollywood have been no stranger on the big screen - both in shooting locations, actors who were fictionally or non-fictionally one of us, stories, or actual teams that have large affiliations within the State of Hockey.  Several of the listed movies below have become cult classics not only in the hockey world, but across all of Hollywood.  We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane, err... the Hollywood walk of fame with these movies shown in cinema, and how these all pertain to the great State of Minnesota and hockey.


In the movie, the fictional small town of Charlestown, the local mill is about to lay off 10,000 workers, indirectly threatening the existence of the town's minor league hockey team, the Charlestown Chiefs.  After discovering that the team is to be folded, player-coach Reggie Dunlop lets the Hanson Brothers, the club's recent acquisitions, suit up against their opponents.  The brothers' actively violent and thuggish style of play excites the fans.  Dunlop retools the team, using violence to draw big crowds.

The team's new style produces unintended consequences that affect not only Dunlop, but the Chiefs' star player, Ned Braden, along with the rest of the team.  Dunlop exploits Braden's marital troubles in his efforts to get him to take part in the team's brawling, to no avail.  Several games devolve into bench-clearing brawls, including one that takes place before the opening face-off, and another that brings the local police into the locker room to arrest the Hanson Brothers. 

The original screenplay by Nancy Dowd is based in part on her brother Ned Dowd's violent minor experiences playing minor league hockey in the United States National American Hockey League (NAHL) from the 1974-1975 season, where the Johnstown Jets captured the Lock-heart cup as champions.

Dowd was living in Los Angeles when she got a call from her brother Ned, a member of the Johnstown Jets hockey team of the NAHL (Farm club of the WHA Minnesota Fighting Saints).  Her brother gave her the bad news that the team was for sale.  Dowd moved to the area and was inspired to write Slap Shot.  It was filmed in Johnstown, Pennsylvania; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; central New York (Clinton Arena in Clinton, New York, Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, New York and the Onondaga County War Memorial Auditorium in Syracuse).  Nancy Dowd used her brother Ned and a number of his Johnstown Jets teammates in Slap Shot, with Ned Dowd portraying Syracuse goon 'Ogie Ogilthorpe'. He later used the role to launch a career as a Hollywood character actor, an assistant director and eventually a line producer. 

The characters of the "Hanson Brothers" were based on three actual brothers: Jeff, Steve, and Jack Carlson, who played with Ned Dowd on the Jets.  The character of "Dave 'Killer' Carlson" is based on then-Jets player Dave Killer Hanson.  Steve and Jeff Carlson who were born and raised in Virginia, MN played their Hanson brother counterparts in the film.  Jack Carlson was originally scripted to appear in the film as the third brother, Jack, with Dave Hanson playing his film counterpart, Dave Carlson.  However, by the time filming began, Jack Carlson had been called up by the Edmonton Oilers, then of the WHA, to play in the WHA playoffs, so Dave Hanson moved into the role of "Jack Hanson," and actor Jerry Houser was hired for the role of 'Killer' Carlson."

Eventually Dunlop meets the owner of the team, and discovers his efforts to increase the team's popularity through violence have been for naught, as the owner plans to fold the team as a tax write-off.  By the time Dunlop decides to abandon the new strategy of violence over skill, the Chiefs' main rivals in Syracuse have already upped the ante by stocking their team full of goons in preparation for the league's championship game.  Although the screen-play was that of the Johnstown Jets, the Carlsons were once quoted: "The movie truly aligns and portrays that of their playing days with the WHA Minnesota Fighting Saints more accurately than that of the Johnstown team".  With the team being sold, Ogie Ogilthorpe (Actual player Goldy Goldthorpe of the Fighting Saints), and the actual apartment where Coach Reggie Dunlop (played by actor Paul Newman) was the real life apartment of Bruce Boudreau - future Head Coach of the Minnesota Wild who was an actual team-mate of the Carlsons with the Minnesota Fighting Saints, and also was on-film for x1 scene in Slap-Shot himself.  In all, five former Minnesota Fighting Saints players appeared in the movie: Steve Carlson, Jeff Carlson, Dave Hanson, Jean Tetreault and Bruce Boudreau.

At the end of Slap Shot, Coach Reg is pleased that the fictional NHL's Minnesota Nighthawks want to hire him as their coach, and that several key Chief's players will be part of the bargain.

The Hanson (Carlson) Brothers

The Hanson Brothers are fictional characters in the 1977 movie Slap Shot.  The real-life inspirations for the Hanson Brothers are Virginia, MN native brothers: Jeff Carlson (born July 20, 1953), Jack Carlson (born August 23, 1954), and Steve Carlson (born August 26, 1955).  Two of them starred in the film.

The Hanson Brothers provide several humorous moments in the film and are best remembered for: Starting fights, interrupting the coach in the locker room during pre-game speeches, overzealous shouting, wearing extremely thick nerd glasses, childishly playing with toy cars and trucks in their hotel room, interrupting the National Anthem song, and machine took our quarter.  In the film, the Hansons are brought in by the front office as part of an inexpensive deal, also as enforcers for the fledgling Charlestown Chiefs during their 1976 (and final) season in the Federal League.

In order of uniform numbers:

  • Jack Hanson #16 (portrayed by David Hanson) – Left Wing, age 19
  • Steve Hanson #17 (portrayed by Steve Carlson) – Center, age 20
  • Jeff Hanson #18 (portrayed by Jeff Carlson) – Right Wing, age 18

Jack Carlson was unable to act in the film as the Edmonton Oilers called him up for the WHA playoffs.  In his place, Dave Hanson (born April 12, 1954 in Cumberland, Wisconsin) filled the role.

While the film's 'Hanson Brothers' were based on the real Carlson Brothers, from Virginia, Minnesota the character of "Killer Carlson" is based on Dave Hanson - whose real hockey nickname was "Killer" Hanson.  Thus, Dave Hanson filled in for Jack Carlson as one of the fictional Hanson Brothers - while another actor played a character modeled after Dave Hanson.  Jack Carlson, the man Dave "played" in the movie, was also very well known throughout his career as an enforcer, and did pick up the real hockey nickname "Killer" Carlson.

In the movie, the Hanson Brothers speak with a typical North Central American accent, owing to their hometowns, in areas where hockey is prevalent.  The United States Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, Minnesota, only a few miles from the city of Virginia, home of the Carlsons.  The Iron League, from which the Hansons are supposedly bought, is a reference to the Iron Range, a hockey hotbed in Northern Minnesota.

Along with their time on minor professional teams like those depicted in the film, all three of the actors playing the Hanson Brothers played in the major leagues.  Steve Carlson played in 225 games, in both the NHL and the WHA.  Dave Hanson played in 136 games in the NHL and WHA. Jeff Carlson played 7 games in the WHA.  Like their characters, both Dave Hanson and Jeff Carlson were known for a willingness to drop the gloves.  Steve Carlson did have some fights in his professional career, but was known more as a finesse player.  Dave Hanson's son, Christian Hanson has played a total of 42 games in the NHL (with the Toronto Maple Leafs between 2008-2011) and has played in the American Hockey League for the Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, and St. Louis Blues affiliates.

Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson and Dave Hanson continue to make personal appearances as the Hanson Brothers, typically at minor league hockey games, where even today - they have a large following from this classic 1970's hockey movie.

Slap Shot Original Movie Poster

Slap Shot Original Movie Poster

Slap Shot Opens March 25, 1977 Minneapolis & St. Paul Theater Ad

Bruce Boudreau Slap Shot

Ice Castles

In the 1978 Columbia Pictures movie Ice Castles, Alexis Winston (Lynn-Holly Johnson) is a young girl who dreams of becoming a champion figure skater.  One night, while practicing, Alexis suffers a terrible accident that takes her sight and threatens to destroy her dreams.  In the midst of feeling sorry for herself she falls in love with a handsome young man named Nick (Robbie Benson) who with help from her family, helps her to realize that she can still fulfill her dreams.   The 1978 motion picture starring Lynn-Holly Johnson and Robby Benson, certain scenes were filmed within Bloomington, MN Met Center - former home of the Minnesota North Stars.  In the film Benson's Character tries out for the North Stars but is assigned to their fictional farm team in Lincoln (likely Nebraska, though the state is never mentioned).  Curiously the players in the Met Center scenes donned North Stars home & away jerseys worn only through 1975, whereas this motion picture was filmed in 1978.  The on-ice Coach of the North Stars was Minneapolis, MN native, former Minnesota Fighting Saints WHA left wing, and primary architect of the St. Paul Civic Center - Len Lilyholm. 

Other filming locations includes in Ice Castles: Williams Arena/Old Mariucci Arena (movie ending scenes with standing ovation crowd) that is fictionally portrayed in the movie as being the Mid-Western Sectional held in St. Louis Missouri.  White Bear Lake (outdoor skating scenes, and amateur hockey game held within White Bear Hippodrome), South St. Paul, St. Paul, and Waverly, MN.

Ice Castles Met Center - actor Robby Benson

White Bear Lake Hippodrome, Met Center, Williams/Mariucci Arena Scenes

Ice Castles Met Center - actress Lynn Holly Johnson

Mighty Ducks

Perhaps the most notable of ALL blockbuster hockey centric movies ever shot within Minnesota - that too has been called a cult-classic today among hockey aficionados and movie fans alike is that of the 1992, 1994 and 1996 filmed: Mighty Ducks I, II and III by Disney Motion Pictures.  Originally slated prior to casting, and filming of the original 1992 Film I to be called: The Bombays - named after Head Coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez) - was later renamed The Mighty Ducks, and was filmed almost entirely within Minnesota.  Later to be followed by several arenas to make cameo appearances in film II, followed by only Columbia Arena in film III.  Almost all of the sports uniforms that appeared on-set in the three movies were created by local Twin Cities jersey manufacturer Hooter Sportswear - today re-named Tough Jersey. 

DI: The original screen play story was that of Gordon Bombay, a hotshot lawyer, who was haunted by memories of his childhood, when, as the star player in his champion hockey team he lost the winning goal in a shootout, thereby losing the game, and the approval of his coach. (notably against a Duluth East team/goaltender) - which too is an actual high school in northern Minnesota Duluth, named the Duluth East Greyhounds.  After being charged for drunk driving, the court orders him to coach a peewee hockey team, the worst in the league, Gordon is at first very reluctant.  However, he eventually gains the respect of the kids and teaches them how to win, gaining a sponsor on the way and giving the team the name of The Ducks.  In the finals, they face Gordon's old team, coached by Gordon's old coach, giving Gordon a chance to face old ghosts.

In DII: Gordon Bombay is forced to withdraw from minor hockey league team named the Minneapolis Waves following a knee injury.  Much to his surprise, he is given the job of coach of Team USA Hockey for the Junior Goodwill Games in California.  With most of the Ducks and a few new players in tow, he sets forth for LA.  After all appears to be going well for awhile, the hype of being in Hollywood starts to get to Gordon, and he is distracted when Iceland - the favorites to win the title, appear on the scene.

Several screen grabs are shown below, with breakdown of the shooting locations and numerous hockey arenas shown on the big screen that surrounded the Minneapolis metro area in all x3 films.  In addition, other outdoor scenes were shown in each city as follows:

Minneapolis: Gordon is introduced to his team outside of a parked limousine at Peavey Park in south Minneapolis.  The IDS Center at 80 8th Street in downtown Minneapolis was used for filming, likely shots in Ducksworth's office.  The first showdown with the Hawks takes place at Parade Ice Garden at 600 Kenwood Parkway in Minneapolis.  Parade Arena was scripted as the home ice of the rival Hawks in the production of both Disney films I & II.  Hans' Sport Shop is the Chalet at Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis.  Gordon leads the team on  in-line skates across Nicollet Mall north of 7th Street South in downtown Minneapolis where they then skate through Gaviidae Commons located at 651 Nicollet Mall, causing mayhem.  Augsburg Ice Arena, Blake School, Emerson School, Harriet Island, Nicollet Island, Lake of Isles, Theodore Wirth Park all in Minneapolis appear in DII.

St. Paul:  In the final scene of film I, the team says goodbye to Gordon at the corner of St. Peter & West 7th Streets in St. Paul adjacent to Mickey's Diner located at 36 West 7th Street where Charlie's mom (Heidi Kling) works as a waitress appears in DI and DIII.  St. Paul Rice Park in background with trees and St. Paul Winter Carnival ice sculptures in a scene.  St. Paul Irvine Park appears in DII.

St. Cloud:  The courtroom scenes and the lobby staircase were filmed in Stearns County Courthouse at 725 Courthouse Square in St. Cloud, MN.

Minnetonka:  Several game action scenes appear in the old barrel shaped arena #1 - the old wooden barrel shapred roof arena in Minnetonka ceiling was later demolished and rebuilt, and is still in operation today.

Coon Rapids:  In their first official game as Ducks, they play at Cook Memorial Arena at 11091 Mississippi Boulevard in Coon Rapids.  The arena was demolished in 2011 and replaced with he current Coon Rapids Ice Arena, located less than one mile away from Cook Memorial.

Columbia Heights: Columbia Ice Arena appears in DIII - listed as the Eden Hall Academy Ice Arena in the movie.  Both rink 1 and rink 2 appear in the film, with rink 2 featuring fake outside windows that were not apart of the actual ice arena. 

Rochester: Rochester International Airport appears in DIII.

Faribault: Shattuck-St. Mary's School appears in DIII.

Northfield: Shots from Carleton College appeared in DIII.

New Hope:  New Hope rink #1 is a classic venue, and is one of the few remaining indoor facilities that have a wooden barrel roof with the exposed wood within the interior.  This was one of the main reasons why Disney Films were drawn to the building for the 1991 filmed movie.  The now infamous "Flying V" scene shows the now painted over NH round logos that once adorned the walls on the rinks scoreboard end.  Another movie scene showing Gordon Bombays' playing days, but curiously above the scoreboard it adorned Minnehaha Academy Ice Arena - which too is an actual ice arena within Minneapolis, but these scenes were too actually shot within.  The final championship game against the Hawks also took place in New Hope Ice Arena, which at the time of the filming was too the home ice of both the Cooper HAWKS and Armstrong Falcons high school hockey and youth programs.

Bloomington:  Camp Snoopy at Mall of America Bloomington appears in DII.  In DI, Coach Bombay takes the team to a hockey game, that was a real NHL game that some footage from North Stars vs. Whalers 5-4 OT win was featured in the movie held February 29, 1992.  Slips of paper were posted about Met Center lobby, and entrance doorways that night stating: 'Today, the feature film Bombay is filming this game, by entering the arena, you are agreeing that your likeness may be used in the picture, in any media, known or unknown in perpetuity'. Earlier that day, prior to the game at Met Center, a Minnesota North Stars practice was ongoing, and real Minnesota North Stars players Stu Gavin depart the ice, followed by: Basil McRae and Mike Modano, where each player speaks to the team along with Coach Gordon.  The lines each player recited today have oftentimes been the topic of conversation in interviews to each player - more than their actual playing careers, including Modano who is in the Hockey Hall of Fame!  The exact quoted lines in the scene were as follows:

Basil McRae: Hey Gordo, Gordon Bombay right? - [Shaking Hands]

Bombay/Estevez: You remember me?

Basil McRae: Sure, from PeeWees [looking to Modano] - this guy used to rule PeeWees.

Mike Modano: Oh yeah, I heard you were a firemen?

Bombay/Estevez:  I actually became a lawyer, I'm coaching PeeWees now and this is my team [looking at team] the Ducks.  Ducks, this is Basil McRae and Mike Modano.

Team Collectively: Duh, yeah we know, oh really, yeah we see that [with eye rolls].

Basil McRae: Yeah Ducks [looking at players], listen to this guy, he knows what he's talking about [looking to Estevez] - if you ever want a shot, let me know, I'll get you a tryout in the minor league.

Bombay/Estevez: Thanks [skakes hands with McRae].

Basil McRae: No problem - hey, nice seeing you.

Mike Modano: Take it easy. " 

Both McRae and Modano walk away

Movie Posters


The inspiring story of the team that transcended its sport and united a nation with a new feeling of hope.  Based on the true story of one of the greatest moments in sports history, the tale captures a time and place where differences could be settled by games and a cold war could be put on ice.  In 1980, the United States Ice Hockey team's coached by East St. Paul, MN native Herb Brooks, took a ragtag squad of college kids, up against the legendary juggernaut from the Soviet Union at the Olympic Games.  Despite the long odds, Team USA carried the pride of a nation yearning from a distraction from world events.  With the world watching the team rose to the occasion, prompting broadcaster Al Michaels' now famous question, to the millions viewing at home: Do you believe in miracles?

Although the now classic movie Miracle was not shot within Minnesota - the movie is truly a story of legendary Eastsider St. Paul native Herb Brooks and how this team was put together, with 12 Minnesota natives in the line-up, including several scenes listed within the movie as rinks where camp was held, contests being played including Bloomington Ice Garden - that outwardly in the movie was shown - but on film the original looks absolutely nothing like the real BIG Arena.  The list of actors portraying the non-fictional character is shown below.  Of note, William Buzz Schneider son Billy portrayed his Dad in the movie.

Actual Athlete/Coach MN Hometown Position Miracle Actor/Actress
Bill Baker Grand Rapids D Nick Postle
Neal Broten Roseau F Trevor Alto
Dave Christian Warroad F Steve Kovalcik
Steve Christoff Richfield F Scott Johnson
John Harrington Virginia F Nate Miller
Steve Janaszak White Bear Lake G Sam Skoryna
Rob McClanahan St. Paul F Nathan West
Mark Pavelich Eveleth F Chris Koch
Mike Ramsey Minneapolis D Joseph Cure
William "Buzz" Schneider Babbitt F Billy Schneider
Eric Strobel Rochester F Robbie MacGregor
Phil Verchota Duluth F Kris Wilson
Herb Brooks St. Paul Head Coach Kurt Russell
Patti Brooks St. Paul Wife of Head Coach Patricia Clarkson
Dan Brooks St. Paul Son of Head Coach Evan Smith
Kelly Brooks St. Paul Daughter of Head Coach Sarah-Anne Hepher
Walter Bush Jr. Edina President USA Hockey Sean McCann
Warren Strelow St. Paul Goalie Coach -Not in Movie-
Ralph Jasinski Mounds View Manager -Not in Movie-
Dr. V.G. Nagobads Edina Physician Kenneth Welsh

Grumpy Old Men

In the 1993 Motion Picture Grumpy Old Men by Warner Bros. Studios, Max Goldman (Walter Matthau) can be seen watching what appears to be either Minnesota High School, or Minnesota Fighting Saints hockey - where the St. Paul Civic Center clear boards are easily distinguishable on the grainy TV inside his ice fishing shack in x2 scenes (one at the beginning of the movie, and another one right before he loses his infamous 'Green Hornet' ice fishing pole down the ice hole).  The lake scenes in the movie although listed as being in Wabasha, MN were actually filmed in Rockford, MN Lake Rebecca.

Untamed Heart

In the 1993 Motion Picture Untamed Heart, the entire movie was filmed within Minnesota, including a few scenes during actual game action between the Minnesota North Stars vs. Detroit Red Wings within Met Center.  The movie story is: Caroline (Marisa Tomei) has not had much luck in love.  Boyfriends seem to either leave her or cheat on her.  Then she meets a shy, introverted man at work named Adam (Christian Slater).  When leaving work one day, two men attack her.  Adam comes to her rescue.  Unfortunately, retaliation by the attackers sends Adam to the hospital where he finds out he has a diseased heart.  Adam is an orphan and was told he had a baboon's heart.  He refuses a transplant, as he believes his love for Caroline is contained in his damaged heart.  Before tragedy can strike, they have a passionate but brief romance.  Adam opens up to Caroline and he, in turn, heals her broken heart.  Other Minnesota locations featured in Minnesota: 1535 Jefferson Street Northeast, Minneapolis (Carolines House), Joes Coffee Shop Minneapolis, MN (named as Jim's Coffee Shop in Movie), Nicollet Island, St. Paul and Minneapolis scenes.  Untamed Heart Met Center Screenshots:

North Country

In the 2005 Warner Bros Pictures North Country - starring Woody Harrelson, Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek and Jeremy Renner - the entire movie was filmed within northern Minnesota, including many scenes within Eveleth, MN history laden Hippodrome ice arena - fictionally depicted and named Lowen Arena in the film.  Several scenes from nearby Virginia, Eveleth High School football field and Eveleth High School interior were additionally shown within the movie.  The motion picture was inspired by true-life events written in 2002 book Class Action: The Story of Lois Jenson and the Landmark Case That Changed Sexual Harassment Law by Clara Bingham and Laura Leedy Gansler, which chronicled the case of Jenson vs. Eveleth Taconite Company.

Drop Dead Fred

In the 1991 New Line Cinema Motion Picture Drop Dead Fred, the entire movie was filmed within Minnesota, including a few scenes within Bloomington, MN Met Center.  Other Minnesota filming locations included: Paisley Park Studios (Chanhassen), Harriet Island, Gaviidae Commons, Walker Art Center, Lowry Hill (Minneapolis) and Wells Fargo Tower (St. Paul).