Friends and family help Pettypiece celebrate his retirement

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A journey that started when Dan Pettypiece’s mother Bernie took him to J&R Sporting Goods took a major twist in the road last Friday.

Pettypiece celebrated his retirement with family and friends during an open house at the Libro Centre Friday evening and recalled the trip with his mother and brother Dave to get his first pair of skates at the Richmond St. business, located where LA Hairstyles is at today.

Dan Pettypiece’s retirement from the town was celebrated last Friday with an open house with friends and family at the Libro Centre. Pettypiece started working full-time for the town in 1984 with his career being both at the AMA Arena and the Libro Centre. Pettypiece stands with some of the memorabilia he has  collected over the years including some from players he has coached.

Dan Pettypiece’s retirement from the town was celebrated last Friday with an open house with friends and family at the Libro Centre. Pettypiece started working full-time for the town in 1984 with his career being both at the AMA Arena and the Libro Centre. Pettypiece stands with some of the memorabilia he has
collected over the years including some from players he has coached.

“That was the biggest investment in my life,” he said of those skates. “I owe a lot to my mom for shoving me out the door and getting me to do something with my life.”

Pettypiece learned to skate on Iler Creek and would start playing hockey at AMA Arena in 1973. He began coaching in 1976 and continues to coach to this day and plans to continue with that in his retirement.

Hired as a part-time arena employee in 1979 by the town’s first arena manager Bruno Casanova, he would be ascend to full-time employment in 1984 thanks to not only Casanova’s assistance, but the mentoring he received from fellow employees Bill Jones, Jeff Long and Frank Sustar.

Pettypiece said it hasn’t been a sudden transition into retirement for him, pointing out persistent back problems has had him on disability for much of the last two years.

“The transition from working to not working started about two years ago,” Pettypiece explained.

Pettypiece added it was a “slow transition” into not working and said it got to the point where he couldn’t come back to do the job he loved. A final spin around the ice on the Zamboni was difficult for him, he admitted, as it was a part of his life he enjoyed. Not only did he like the actual cleaning of the ice, but he enjoyed teaching children about how the Zamboni worked.

Pettypiece believes he is leaving on top, noting he was one of the arena employees who took pride in making sure Amherstburg had the best ice in the region. It was a trait he was taught by Casanova and one that continued under Ralph Barnwell.

“We always worked as a team,” he said. “We worked as a team to make our ice the best in the county.”

Pettypiece is also well known for his coaching career, as he has worked with the likes of Kevin Westgarth and Meghan Agosta during his career. He has operated many power skating clinics and hockey schools over his career in order to teach kids the finer points of skating and the game of hockey, which he loves dearly.

There have been challenges in recent years, he said, but Pettypiece said those don’t tarnish all the good times he has had over the years. He said he could never repay the game of hockey for all it has done for him.

Pettypiece recalled his first goal as a player as well as the first goals scored by his children Stacee and Ryan. He thanked his wife Judy for her support over the years as well.

He told the crowd at the open house the story of Corey Meloche, the girl who helped him found the girls hockey team at General Amherst. Meloche died in a snowmobiling accident in 2010 but Pettypiece said she will be with him always.

Seeing former players he worked with having success in coaching is also special to him, with Pettypiece pointing out Scott Hamelin and Glen Holden both helping to guide teams to recent OMHA titles. Hamelin also coaches with Pettypiece with the girls hockey team at General Amherst.

The trophies and medals are important, he added, but loving the game was something he considered the most important.

“I could never repay what the game of hockey has done for me over the last 40 years,” he said.

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