By Vivian Collings
For the past 40 years, Eric Nicholls attended nearly every Highland Storm hockey game held at the AJ LaRue Arena in Haliburton, quietly and humbly working behind the commotion of the game to ensure score accuracy.
Now, the spotlight is on him as he hits the buzzer on his scorekeeping career.
“I think it’s time to pass the torch on to somebody else. I have mixed emotions, but it will give me more time to do things for myself,” Nicholls said to the Echo after being recognized before the U15 game on Friday, Nov. 4.
It was the love of the game that carried Nicholls through four decades, getting to witness new players and team dynamics each season.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of good hockey and a lot of good players come through the league.”
The Highland Storm Minor Hockey Association executive organized speeches and gifts to be given to Nicholls, surprising the life-long Haliburton resident.
“It was so nice that everyone went up to say a few words,” he said, adding that it meant a lot to him after getting to know them all so well.
“Tonight, we are gathered here to honour and say thank you to an important member of our Highland Storm family. In 1982, a young man sat down in the timekeeper spot, and the rest was history,” said Diane Peacock, member of the Highland Storm executive.
Dysart et al Mayor Andrea Roberts congratulated Nicholls and was impressed by his 40 years of service.
“What an accomplishment. Your dedication to minor hockey here in Haliburton really is amazing, and we are so proud of you,” Roberts said in her speech.
Ontario Minor Hockey Association (OMHA) region 5 director Andy Cooke presented Nicholls with a plaque on behalf of the OMHA.
Referee in chief Brad Tate thanked Nicholls for his years of dedication, and a message from former referee Mike Brinkos, who now lives in New Brunswick, was read.
The Highland Storm executive presented the scorekeeper with his own Highland Storm jersey, complete with his last name on the back.
“He’s been my mentor, and we will certainly miss him,” Peacock said.
Nicholls will work as scorekeeper at the AJ LaRue Arena for the remainder of the minor hockey season before retiring.