Halifax Mooseheads to honour longtime timekeeper
'The people that I met, it was just unbelievable,' says Ron Beard
It's the friendships that stand out for Ron Beard.
Beard operated the clock for 42 years at Scotiabank Centre, formerly known as Metro Centre. The 87-year-old decided to step away from the timekeeper's bench at the end of last season.
He kept time for 5,285 games.
"The people that I met, it was just unbelievable," said Beard, who will be honoured Thursday night by the Halifax Mooseheads.
"Doing the clock, the fans sitting behind me, I didn't know who they were, but they all knew me by my first name and we would talk every game."
Beard grew up in Ontario, but moved to Canada's East Coast when he joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1952.
His career as a timekeeper began in 1980. He worked 1,185 home games for the Mooseheads.
He will be recognized prior to a game against the Quebec Remparts. He will be presented with an award and drop the ceremonial first puck.
"It will be a proper acknowledgement of his efforts over the last 42 years," said Mooseheads president Brian Urquhart.
While he has operated the clock for basketball and lacrosse, the majority of his work was hockey.
Beard worked hundreds of American Hockey League games in the days before the Mooseheads.
He said some of his best memories came alongside public address announcer Pat Connolly. The late Connolly always brought coffee into the booth.
Players getting slammed into the boards would often spill the beverage, so Beard came up with a navy-inspired plan to fix the problem.
"I rigged up a shoelace that we strung under the table and we brought in a cup hook and attached it to his coffee cup so it would hang down, just like we used to do on the navy ships," said Beard, a member of the Maritime Sport Hall of Fame.
"He thought that was just great, but in the first game a puck came right over the glass and fell into Pat's cup of coffee. That was just hilarious."
Still going to the rink
Beard said he still does the clock one night a week for a gentlemen's league.
He said the Mooseheads winning the QMJHL championship in 2013 was one of the best moments of his long career.
But he will always remember the friends he made along the way, including one from Switzerland he saw recently.
"I became friends with him when he was a referee from the first world juniors tournament held here in 2003," said Beard. "He was just here in Halifax, this time serving as a referees supervisor and we had a great visit with each other."