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Locals inspire hockey flick

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It sounds like Hollywood's next hockey comedy has skate marks that trail back to Fargo.

"Stan's Cup," a film that's currently in pre-production, is the tale of an old-timer's hockey team that travels to Russia for a game against a similarly aged team. The idea is that's it's a "friendly" match. But when the team gets to the Russian arena, they find a stadium full of fans and an opposing team filled out with former Olympic hockey players.

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Add some comedic flair and a witty script, and it's easy to envision this as "Slap Shot" with a more pointed plotline.

I'm not sure if the local hockey folk are as funny as Paul Newman in "Slap Shot," but the story of "Stan's Cup" was inspired by a pack of area "older" hockey guys who really did travel to Russia for a game against some ex-Olympians.

It happened in 1995 when a group of players, including Clayton Mannausau, made the trip to Saratov, Russia, in a tournament that eventually paired them against a Russian team full of the ex-Olympians.

In a 1997 Forum article Mannausau said, "We were in a smaller town ... it was pretty much a closed city. They only let a handful of outsiders in before we got there. MiG (fighter planes) were supposedly made there. It was pretty secret stuff I guess, so the rumor was."

Jeff Schlossman, a local real estate man, says he and a couple of guys - John Erickson, Kirk Roos - dug the story and developed it to the point of hiring a writer to pen a screenplay.

"They liked it in Los Angeles, and it's been rewritten now and moving up the totem pole in progress," Schlossman says.

Wading through Hollywood's "development" stage can be murky affair. Projects with major buzz can die quickly for almost any reason; others can languish in production limbo for years and years.

But it sounds like "Stan's Cup" has some positive motion.

Schlossman confirmed a report on The Hollywood Reporter's Web site stating that noted casting director Sarah Finn - she worked on "Iron Man" - is producing and casting the film. And screenwriter John Rice - he wrote "Windtalkers" - will take the title of director for the first time with "Stan's Cup."

"We feel very confident that it will go," Schlossman says. "I'm very excited about it because it appears to have struck a chord in Los Angeles, where they make decisions about movies."

Still, Schlossman was guarded with details about when the movie will be shot, released, who will be cast and if Fargo will have a place in the movie.

He did say the story has been fictionalized. And that it is currently an independent film "but there's a lot of interest coming from a lot of people right now," Schlossman says.

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com) shows a 2010 release for "Stan's Cup," and The Hollywood Reporter said there will be a spring shoot in Warroad, Minn.

However, Warroad's city administrator's office said on Thursday that the city hasn't had any requests for film permits.

Regardless of the mystery surrounding the movie's details, it looks like some of our local hockey heroes could be getting the Hollywood treatment.

Let's hope "Stan's Cup" gets a better reception than "Wooly Boys."

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