Hockey refs want to honor one of their own

Friday, May 11, 2018 - 12:53
  • A portrait of Henry Powell “Chip” Gallagher Jr. painted by Becky Crawford. A proposal is in the works to rename the officials’ dressing room at the McDonald Center for Gallagher, who died in 2016.
  • The Gallagher family poses for a family photo. Top row (from L-R): Eric Gallagher, Bryan Gallagher, Chip (Henry) Gallagher, Powell Gallagher, Greg Gallagher, Sean Gallagher; Bottom Row (L-R) Kelcy Gallagher and Kathy (Kathleen) Gallagher (Photo courtesy of Powell Gallagher)

For decades, Henry Powell “Chip” Gallagher Jr. was a mainstay of the Chugiak-Eagle River hockey community.

Thanks to the efforts of some Alaska hockey officials, he’ll remain a visible part of that community for years to come.

A plan is in the works to name the officials’ dressing room at the Harry J. McDonald Center after Gallagher, who died in 2016.

“He was just a great guy,” Mac Center manager Reid McDonald told the Eagle River/Chugiak Board of Supervisors earlier this month.

Gallagher worked as a youth hockey official, doing whatever he could to support young skaters. He raised six children — all of them hockey players — with his wife, Kathy.

Gallagher’s son Powell said youth hockey was one of his father’s passions.

“He reffed a ton for the association and he just loved to be out there and helping out on the side,” Gallagher said.

McDonald said the proposal to rename the room came from the officials themselves, who wanted to find a way to honor a member of their close-knit fraternity. In a statement, Alaska Hockey Officials vice president Scott Sivulich said Gallagher was “a fixture in the Eagle River hockey community for many years.”

“Most of us remember Chip refereeing our games when we were young, then we grew up to share the ice with Chip as officials,” Sivulich wrote.

Sivulich said Gallagher’s contributions to hockey were felt around the state.

“Alaska Hockey Officials is grateful to Chip for giving so much of his time to the game we all love, and we want to honor Chip for his contributions to officiating and the game of hockey in Eagle River and the surrounding areas from Anchorage to the Valley.”

McDonald said the Mac Center board has already approved the rename; a final plan will be submitted to the parks board for review in the near future. The plan is to place a small plaque honoring Gallagher as well as a portrait by artist Becky Crawford.

Along with being a hockey official and prominent member of the pucks community, Gallagher was also an Air Force veteran who spent 26 years with the Anchorage Airport Police, retiring in 2013 as a lieutenant. He also volunteered his time at the Downtown Soup Kitchen, and for many years organized the group’s “Slammin’ Salmon” king salmon fishing derby each spring.

Powell Gallagher said when he heard the hockey officials wanted to recognize his dad, he was overcome with emotion.

“It brought some tears to the eyes,” he said.

Gallagher said he’s proud of his father’s contributions and gratified to see Chip getting recognized.

“It’s just emotional, it’s hard to put into words that something so small could mean so much to the family,” he said. “It’s just awesome to see the life he led and lived is continuing to show.”

Contact Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected].

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