ORLAND PARK, Ill. – David Gust dreamed of playing professional hockey in his hometown.

“I always kind of knew, maybe one day I’d be able to play in Chicago and align it all. Last year, it happened, but we didn’t get the fans or stuff like that. Now, getting the full effect with friends and family coming – it’s surreal.”

His early days on skates were spent at the Orland Park ice rink, when his dad – also named Dave – came up with an idea.

“We were coming here and like every parent does – like I did with the girls in tumbling and all of that – you go ‘Wow! This place could really be nice. You could really make money at it if you did it right. You know what? Why don’t I try to do it as a business?'”

So he did.

After looking into building a new rink in New Lennox, the elder Gust eventually bought the Orland Park facility in 2000, now called Arctic Ice Arena.

“We actually built this rink, which was an outdoor sheet at the time and made it an indoor sheet. We added the Chill, which is now the Chicago Fury as a Triple-A program.”

The former Northern Illinois football player also built a state-of-the-art training facility for the players and a spot for parents to watch.

“Everyone loves coming to the rink because there is a bar upstairs. Dad’s love it. The food in the restaurant is good. It’s a good environment for the kids to come and play.”

David Gust is among a number of AHL and NHL players who trained here as kids. Gust’s sister Kara even skated on the same house league team as Olympian Kendall Coyne Schofield.

“It’s kind of just been my whole childhood – going to school then straight to the rink, home for dinner and do it all again the next day. It’s been a big part of me and my family’s lives.”

The Wolves winger realizes how fortunate he was to have a parent literally invest in his kids’ hockey career.

“Definitely been privileged in that area. Hearing guys over the years in the summers talk about how challenging it can be to find ice or how much it costs and all that to go skate in the summers. I’ve kind of had the luxury of open ice. Whenever I want to skate I just drive over and hop on out there.”

“It’s not a business you’re going to make a lot of money at. It’s a business you do more because you had a purpose to do it. That’s kind of what we’ve done. Now that I’m out of it from a kids standpoint – my grandkids are starting to come up – we’re hoping that when David hangs ’em up, he comes here and starts working.”

But while he still skates for his hometown Wolves in Rosemont, David says there is an open invitation for teammates to skate at his family rink.

“I skated there so many times when I was a kid. All of my brothers are playing there now. Spent a lot of time there,” explained Wolves forward Jack Drury. “I didn’t even know that their family owned it until a month or so ago when he told me. It’s pretty cool. Hopefully, I can get some free ice next summer.”

That’s not likely to be a problem.