by Frank Hyde
He Has A Yen For Hockey-Playing Kids
Alm, a tall, very soft-spoken young man who operates a construction business on Route 17 at Driftwood has a yen for kids, especially hockey-playing kids.
He has spent thousands of dollars and thousands of hours to promote his hobby and now things may "be shaping up," as he puts it.
Alm hopes to land a federal small business loan to establish an artificial ice rink at a "walk-to" area where skating and hockey can be promoted on a larger and possibly more profitable basis.
Currently about 40 boys are playing hockey on three age-division teams at Alm's rink, located under a barn at his construction firm.
"Some interest has been shown but we need a lot of support - something like a dozen or so businessmen willing to help maintain a rink," he explains.
Alm's present 180 X 151-foot rink on Route 17 is ideal for young hockey players. His teams are "Squirts," under 10 years of age, "Pee-Wees," under 12's, and all-age seniors. The senior team on which Alm plays is also operating out of the rink.
Alm's enthusiasm for youth hockey has never waned but has been at low ebb a few times, especially when the bills roll in. Now he is hopeful again after the addition of Gary Hart, former Jamestown pitcher, and one-time hockey star and official out of Niagara Falls, Ontario.
"Gary is working at the rink full-time now and takes a lot of the responsibility off my shoulders," John explained. "He is coaching the boys, officiating at games and helping maintain the rink."
Alm's skating surface, while small, is ideal from a standpoint of maintaining ice. Part of the rink is under the barn and the portion outside is shaded by the building, so the first good freeze of winter usually lays a coating of ice that will remain in good condition throughout the skating season.
There is open skating for the general public at the rink for a small admission, which is proving disappointing to Alm.
"We don't get very many skaters from Jamestown but quite a few come in from the smaller towns in the area,� he said. Alm is puzzled over the lack of open skating because the rink is in fine condition and is of ideal size for recreation skating.
"One problem, of course, is that people must drive to the rink. That is why I am thinking in terms of an artificial rink within walking distance of one of the population centers," he added.
John has never been an outstanding hockey player. He had very little association with the game until the new rink opened in Erie. Then Alm started organizing teams, which now play at Erie and meet Pennsylvania teams at the Alm rink. "We try to get them games because practice becomes a drag without competition," he pointed out. Each division plays several contests each season.
The seniors have such players as Alm, Hart, Tim Miller, Bob Johnson, Howie Lindstrom, Dick Gilligan and George Volgstadt, Sr., who is a part of a skating family. George's sons, George, Jr., and Doug skate on the kid teams.
Alm and some of the seniors take part in "unofficial" games at Erie. John got quite a thrill out of playing with Ken Campbell a few times. Campbell is vice-president of the Chicago Black Hawks of the National Hockey League.
The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame. We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.