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This Day in Buffalo Sports History: Bizarre finish

     March 27, 1976 -- Now this is the way to make a dramatic exit from the sporting scene. 

     The Buffalo Norsemen were playing a first-round playoff series against the Johnstown Jets in the North American Hockey League. The two teams were tied at two games apiece after the Norsemen won Game Four at home. 

     During the pregame warmups of Game Five in Johnstown, the Jets jumped the Norsemen ... and the officials weren't even on the ice, so the brawl went on and on.

     Once the situation finally calmed down, the Norsemen refused to take the ice for the deciding game. The league commissioner and officials pleaded with Guy Trottier and Willie Marshall to take the ice, but they and the rest of the team refused. The game was forfeited and the Jets were awarded the series, 3-2.

     There are two more aspects of the story. The Norsemen folded after that season, so their last game was a forfeit.

     In addition, the Jets were in the midst of taking part in the filming of a hockey movie, starring Paul Newman. The story of Game Five was quickly worked into the script as part of the ending. "Slap Shot" became the most beloved movie in hockey circles in history.

--- Budd Bailey

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