From the best ice in the state to the best youth players, Treadwell Arena is known for excellence. That level of performance will now include, arguably, the best hockey team ever. A print of the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold medal hockey team will be donated to the rink in a ceremony Saturday by donor Steve MacSwain, rink manager of Palmer’s MTA Center, and Juneau-Douglas Ice Association president Arnold Liebelt.
“For Steve to donate this print to JDIA is incredibly generous,” Liebelt said in an email. “Steve knows so many players throughout Alaska and has worked with dozens of associations. So allowing JDIA to safeguard this print is a true honor for us and reflects how much Steve enjoys our rink and our association.”
MacSwain, a former professional hockey player, received the print as a gift from USA Hockey when he was 15 years old and spent the next 25 years getting every team member’s signature on it. MacSwain will present the gift during his hockey camp on Saturday at 7:45 p.m. in Treadwell Arena. MacSwain also will include a personal letter detailing the history of the print from the time he first received it to the final signature.
“Somehow I did not play on that team, those are all my idles and heroes,” MacSwain said of the print. “I have a huge amount of respect for those guys. Throughout the years I got to play with some of them and that was a big thrill. It was amazing getting all those names on it. People approach me some days and ask which one I am, I correct them right away, my ‘80s hairdo is not in there.”
MacSwain has given copies of the print to various charities and ice arenas around the state.
“I try to give them to the rinks and good people that I have met over the course of hockey,” MacSwain said. “I am honored they are having a ceremony. I like to see that picture in arenas to inspire future USA Hockey kids. To see those great hockey players in our great capital city makes me real happy. Juneau is good people, good hockey people.”
MacSwain originally presented the print and letter to former JDIA president Dennis Weston.
Weston had taken a JDIA Bantam team to Palmer in March 2012 to compete for, and ultimately win, the Tier III State Championship.
“I could not believe it,” Weston said. “I was flabbergasted. Most anybody that plays hockey, especially if they picked up a hockey stick in the ‘80s, knows about that Olympic team.”
Weston took a state of Alaska job promotion to Anchorage that summer, resigned from the JDIA board and passed the gifts on to Liebelt.
“This was so generous of Steve,” Weston said. “He had just begun his relationship with the JDIA doing two clinics and we were in the process of arranging the subsequent clinic this weekend. This is a guy who has done a lot for Alaska hockey.”
MacSwain was a standout high school player in Alaska, leading the Anchorage North Star Hockey team in the 1970s and scoring 104 points in one season for East Anchorage High School in the early ‘80s.
He played junior hockey for the United States Hockey League’s (USHL) Dubuque Fighting Saints, scoring 62 goals with 122 assists in 60 regular season games and another nine goals with 11 assists in nine playoff games, plus five goals with four assists in Nationals while winning the Junior Hockey regular season, Clark Cup and National Championships. He totaled 111 goals with 128 assist in 97 games in the USHL.
MacSwain then played at the University of Minnesota where he led the Golden Gophers in scoring and played four complete seasons. He was the first Alaskan drafted by the National Hockey League, going to the Calgary Flames in the 1986 Supplemental Draft, and embarked on a nine-year Canadian and European Pro career. He was a member of the U.S. National Team in the 1990 World Championships. He concluded his career with the East Coast Hockey League’s (ECHL) Anchorage Aces from 1995-99 while also representing Team USA in tournaments.
MacSwain has been a professional coach in the U.S., Canada and Europe and is also a scout for the American West Hockey League (AWHL) Glacier Nationals (Mont.) team.
The JDIA is hosting the Steve MacSwain Hockey Camp this Saturday and Sunday at the Treadwell Ice Arena in Douglas.
Camp Group 1 includes Mites and Pee Wees (ages 5-10) and kicks off Saturday at 4:30-6 p.m. Group 2 includes Pee Wees, Bantams and Midgets and starts after group 1 at 6:15 p.m.. Camp continues on Sunday starting at 1:15 p.m. for the first group and 2:30 p.m. for the second group. Cost is $99 and registration is online at JDIAHockey.com or at the door 45 minutes prior to ice time.
• Contact Sports Editor Klas Stolpe at 523-2228 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.