Hockey team optimistic about arena’s potential

Professional hockey possibly could be played inside a multi-purpose arena this fall and winter.

Kristen A. Rooney, owner and CEO of the Williamsport Outlaws, confirmed Wednesday during a Federal Hockey League All Star game banquet at The Genetti that the team looks forward to playing indoors at a multi-purpose arena, mostly likely the Pickelner Arena that developer Dan Klingerman, owner of The Liberty Group, 1500 Sycamore Road, Loyalsock Township, bought when he purchased the YMCA property on Elmira Street.

“The building’s been purchased and all things look positive,” Rooney said.

The league and team began playing games Oct. 24 at a rink built at Bowman Field. The facility has been named Airmen Pond at Bowman Field, but the plan was to play for one season.

Rooney said it began as a dream and became a phenomenal venue.

She was excited as the city prepared to host its first league All-Star Game Wednesday night at the field.

Also turning heads at the banquet was Paul D’Amato, an actor best known for his portrayal of Tim “Dr. Hook” McCracken in the 1970s hockey movie, “Slap Shot.”

D’Amato delighted the hockey-enthused crowd with his hijinks of how he got cast for the role.

The actor, with slicked back hair and a thick accent straight out of Brooklyn, offered tender reflection of what it was like acting beside the late Hollywood icon Paul Newman, who portrayed Reggie Dunlop, an aging coach of the Charlestown Chiefs in the movie.

“He ruined it for every other actor,” D’Amato said of Newman, whom he went on to describe as an altruistic and quiet gentleman.

Newman formed his food business, Newman’s Own, of which he donated $20 million to charity, D’Amato said.

D’Amato didn’t escape the grand ballroom without reviving what he said when he met Dunlop in the film.

D’Amato paused for a second before delivering the line – “Major surgery … open heart.”

The movie, filmed in Johnstown, the hardscrabble and blue-collar city east of Pittsburgh, was “one of the best sports movies ever made,” D’Amato said.

After the movie, D’Amato said he went on to appear in films such as “The Deer Hunter,” in which he played an Army Green Beret; “Suspect,” where he got to hold a knife to Cher’s neck; “FX;” “Heaven’s Gate;” “Heaven Can Wait;” and appeared in the television series “Law & Order.”

Today, D’Amato said he performs in off-Broadway shows and theater.

At the banquet, tables were seated with an Outlaw player and All-Star players from teams in the league.

Just seven hours before they were expected to check each other in fierce competition on the ice, the players slapped each other gently on the back and extended warm handshakes.

League officials said hockey jerseys will be auctioned off with some of the proceeds headed to Newtown, Conn., site of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December.