Gore Bay arena tribute recognizes two prominent men who had positive impact on minor hockey, community

The initials ‘J.R.’ are a tribute to John Rutledge, the former ice maker at the arena, who passed away earlier this year.

GORE BAY – Dave Hillyard felt that with the community of Gore Bay and the hockey community having seen two prominent men pass away this year, both having a profound positive impact on hockey in the community, that they should be recognized in a special tribute at the Gore Bay arena this winter.

“Randy Thibault and John Rutledge were two people that made a significant difference in Gore Bay minor hockey, and the Gore Bay community itself,” said Gore Bay arena manager Dave Hillyard last Friday. “I was thinking it would be nice to have a special tribute to both on the arena ice surface this year,” he said.

The initials R.T. and J.R. (as well as the “Gore Bay Bruins” name) are prominently displayed in the ice surface in an area behind the red line on the ice surface one will first see when they enter the arena. 

“As anyone can tell you, Randy Thibault had a very significant impact on Gore Bay hockey with his wisdom and knowledge of the game, coaching and passion for hockey and kids, it is something we all miss this year,” said Mr. Hillyard.

Mr. Hillyard also explained, “John Rutledge was the former ice maker at the arena. I am very grateful that I had such an amazing mentor who taught me how to efficiently operate the plant, how to make a great sheet of ice, master the art of driving the Zamboni and the skills needed to tie up a perfect pair of hockey skates. The kids call me arena Dave or Mr. Ice Man and this is a title I know John would be proud of me to carry and I do it daily in his memory.”

“As John would ask, ‘did you make a little kid smile today?’ If you did then you have successfully done your job,” said Mr. Hillyard. 

Mr. Hillyard noted he had a lot of help in painting the tributes to Mr. Thibault and Mr. Rutledge on the ice surface this year. “I am very thankful for everyone who helped with this (and ice installation), Chad Chevrette, Mike Niemi, Colton and Jackson Chevrette, along with Joel Lock and his sons Eli, Rylan and Isaac,” The Gore Bay arena has also received a small makeover this year, with all LED lights installed in the arena, the dressing room doors and hallways painted in black and white (the Gore Bay Bruins colours), as well as fresh paint in the upstairs area of the arena. 

Dave Hillyard, manager of the Gore Bay arena, displays the initials ‘R.T.’ that have been added to the arena ice surface in tribute to the late coach Randy Thibault, who passed away earlier this year. This marking joins the initials ‘J.R.’ to honour the late John Rutledge, who served as ice-maker at the arena.