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Cox’s Cove man says pride in community rink fading

Perry Sheppard has a good understanding of why his father, Frank Sheppard, spent the majority of his time at the stadium when he was growing up in Cox’s Cove.

Perry Sheppard floods the ice surface at the Marshall Moores Arena in Cox’s Cove on Tuesday.

The elder Sheppard spent 19 years as volunteer manager of the Marshall Moores Arena. It  meant a lot of late nights and early mornings ensuring residents of the tiny north shore Bay of Islands community had a hockey rink to enjoy during the harsh winter months.

Perry is now following in his father’s footsteps, having been in charge of running the enclosed, natural ice facility for the past five years in a volunteer role as chair of the town’s eight-member recreation committee.

He has come to realize the stadium would never have been a fixture in the community if his dad wasn’t committed to doing everything he could to see young children skating and playing hockey.

“If he didn’t, then who was going to? And I’m in the same boat right now,” Sheppard said Tuesday from Cox’s Cove.

"If I didn’t take the initiative to get it started, we would still have concrete on the floor.”

Sheppard is finding it hard to get the stadium open this week because he doesn’t have a lot of support from people in the community.

Tuesday, he had to take time off from his construction business to to pick up some propane in Corner Brook and stock the canteen. He’s hoping for cold temperatures so he can get the rink open as early as today or Thursday.

Sheppard wonders what it’s going to take for people to realize the future of the stadium depends solely on the helping hands of the community.

He recalls spending 10-14 hours a day helping his dad get the rink ready. In those days, he said, about 40 teenagers were on hand to fill up the wheelbarrows for packing snow in the stadium.

Times have certainly changed, and that has left him disappointed.

The saving grace these days, Sheppard said, is some students need volunteer hours for school so they tend to give him a helping hand when they can. He can’t imagine the struggle without them on board.

Frustration has certainly mounted for a man who spends more time at the rink than he does at his own business.

“This is probably going to be the year I hang up the keys," he said. "I can’t run a stadium by myself and that’s the sad reality of it. It scares me that if I didn’t go over this year we would still have concrete over there.”

With some help from Mother Nature, the stadium could be open for general skating in the next day or so and minor hockey should begin by the weekend.

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