For Larry Alm, hockey was a family affair.
The second-oldest of six hockey-playing brothers from south Minneapolis, he played in one of the most memorable games of the boys state tournament, skated for the Gophers and competed on two U.S. National teams. He then went on to coach high school hockey in the city for nearly 30 years.
In more than four decades in hockey, he remained soft-spoken.
“He looked like, acted like and was built like our father,” said older brother Gary Alm. “Both didn’t talk much. He didn’t say a bad word about anybody.”
Larry Alm, a resident of Richfield, died of complications from Parkinson’s disease on Jan. 23. He was 80.
“He was a great football, hockey and baseball player,” said Gary Alm. “He was really strong. But he didn’t fight much in hockey.”
During the 1950s, the Minneapolis South boys hockey team made three appearances over four years in the state tournament. In the first round of the 1955 state tournament at the St. Paul Auditorium, Larry Alm and his South teammates met Thief River Falls. South won the game 3-2, in 11 overtimes. The game’s elapsed time of 87:50 was a record for a state tournament game that stood until 1996. One of spectators of the game was NHL President Clarence Campbell.
“Larry played the entire game without rest,” said Gary Alm.
He then went on to join Gary on the Gophers roster. Larry was an alternate on the 1960 U.S. Olympic team, which won the gold medal. He and future Gophers coach and Olympic coach Herb Brooks were the last two players cut from the Olympic roster.
Alm played three seasons in the USHL and also was a member of the 1964-65 U.S. national team.
After he began his teaching career in the Minneapolis school system, he and his brothers stayed involved in hockey.
At one point, three Alm brothers were head coaches of Minneapolis high school boys hockey teams. A fourth brother officiated Minneapolis hockey games.
“There was an unwritten rule that an Alm couldn’t officiate a game where one of his brothers was coaching,” said Gary Alm, who officiated at hockey games in the City Conference for 20 years. “Don Wheeler was the assigner of referees. I officiated a game where Larry was coaching North and my brother Rick was coaching South. Someone called and complained to Don that I officiated a game that Rick was coaching. And all Don said was, ‘Do you know who was coaching North?’ ”
After coaching at North High School for seven seasons, Alm became an assistant to his brother Rick at Minneapolis South. In 1993, the brothers coached Minneapolis South to the state tournament for the first time since 1957.
Last year, Alm and his brothers were named to the inaugural class of the Minneapolis Hockey Hall of Fame. Each had earned All-City Conference honors during their Minneapolis South career, and four (Gary, Larry, Michael and Rick) lettered for the Gophers. Another brother, Tim, lettered for the Gophers as a student manager.
The brothers, including youngest brother Tony, all skated for a Minneapolis senior hockey team called the Bungalows. “We were everywhere,” said Gary Alm. “We had a lot of fun.”
Larry Alm is survived by his wife, Judy; daughters Jody, Kelly and Wendy, and brothers Gary, Mike, Rick and Tim. Brother Tony died in 2003 after suffering a heart attack during a senior hockey game.
A celebration of his life will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Knights of Columbus Banquet Hall in Bloomington.