The Alpine Club can trace its roots in New Hampshire back to its founding in 1927. Well-known throughout New England for its snowshoe competition and still existing today as a social club, it formed a hockey team in 1963 that competed in the Granite State Hockey League for two seasons and for one year as an independent before transitioning into what would become known as the Manchester Blackhawks.
The president of the club, located in the heart of Manchester’s west side, is Norman Gamache, who has held that position for 40 years and been a member of the Board of Directors for 50 years.
The creation of the hockey team in 1963 followed the formation of the Granite State Hockey League one year earlier, with teams from Concord, Laconia, Nashua, Manchester and Dover. The Alpine Club was formed under the auspices of then-president George Montminy, with Blackie Pouliot as the coach of the team and Joe St.Pierre as the club representative to the Granite State Hockey League. All home games were played at the JFK Coliseum and many practices and scrimmages were held at the Dorrs Pond outdoor rink.
For the 1963-64 season, the Granite State Hockey League had six teams: the Concord Shamrocks, Laconia Lakers, Nashua Royals, Rochester Allain Jewelers and the two Manchester entries — Tam O’Shanters and Alpine Club. The league provided an exciting, high level of play for the fans with many games at the JFK Coliseum exceeding fan capacity with crowds of 2,000 to 3,000 fans, especially when the Alpine and Tam’s were playing against each other. The noise level at these games was, with the Tam’s having their bagpipers at their end of the rink and the Alpine Club
having their drum and bugle corps at the other end.
During the 1964-65 season of play, three kept swapping first place: Laconia, Tam’s and Alpine Clubs. Of the top 13 scores in the league, five were from Laconia and three each were from Tam’s and Alpine Club. Several of those men have been inducted into the New Hampshire Legends of Hockey Hall of Fame.
The highlight tournament of the 1964-65 season was the Winter Carnival that pitted the Tam O’Shanters against the Alpine Club. The Tam’s took the lead and held it until the10-minute mark of the third period, but Bert Metivier scored the game-winning goal to give Alpine a 5-4 win in a game in front of 2,000 fans that produced 29 penalties.
In 1965, within a seven-day period, two unfortunate incidents occurred that ultimately would lead to Alpine Club leaving the GSHL. Two separate players got physical with on-ice officials, requiring the League to indefinitely suspend one of the players and ban the second player from the league for life.
The Alpine Club took immediate action and replaced the coach with Dick Boucher for the remainder of the season. But before the season ended, the league barred the Alpine Club from the playoffs. Joe Barnea, then the sports editor of the Union Leader, commented: “Chances are, the people who wanted the Alpine team barred are the same people who cry to have the New York Yankees disbanded because they win too often.”
For the 1965-66 season the Alpine Club played teams from Walpole and Lynn, Mass.; the Chicks from Providence, R.I.; the Berlin Maroons and the Lewiston Derby. After that season, they transitioned into what became the Manchester Blackhawks in the New England Hockey League. As of 2019, to establish the level of play that Alpine Club teams produced in the Granite State Hockey League, 25 persons in the league have been inducted into the New Hampshire Legends of Hockey Hall of Fame, with 14 of them playing for the Alpine Club.