A Port Hardy local with deep ties to the community has created a shrine for North Island hockey.
Dylan Dirom grew up playing Canada’s favourite pasttime in his hometown of Port Hardy, with his own playing career ranging from Minor Rep to Junior B to Senior Mens, before transitioning to coaching and refereeing.
”I’ve seen the game from every angle, it’s always been a big part of my life,” Dirom said. “Locally I also run a beer league team called the Hardy Ducks and that’s a lot of fun.”
After opening Sparx Skate Sharpening in the North Island Mall, he decided to put together a memorial to North Island hockey inside of the store to help grow the game locally, as well as a way of “giving back to our community,” he said.
The walls inside the Sparx store are full of North Island history, with old Gazette articles showing the history of hockey in the area, local team jerseys, hockey cards of famous players who got their start here, as well as old photographs and rare posters.
“For a small community like ours that develops players that go on to bigger things, it’s nice to have a place where they can be acknowledged, and it’s good for the younger generation to be able to come in and see what they’ve done and then they can believe they can do it too,” he said, pointing out there’s quite a few high level players who have come out of the community.
Dirom has always had a fascination with the history of the game, as a child he collected hockey cards and memorabilia that he still holds on to today.
He noted the entire North Island has always been a real hotbed for hockey. “We’re really proud of that, and I want all the communities to come and participate by putting things on the walls and recognizing it as a place of inclusion – it doesn’t matter the level you played, you still have your place in the history of our community.”
Above all else, Dirom said the memorial is “something that hasn’t already been done here, and I noticed other communities elsewhere that have a memorial or something similar, acknowledging people and celebrating the past,” he said, adding the greatest part of the game is that it brings people together, and having a place to store and display North Island history is a great way to celebrate “the people that make our community what it is.”
Sparx Skate Sharpening is open Monday through Sunday during regular mall hours, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
There are lockers with locks for people to drop off their skates and it’s pick up and drop off at your own convenience.
Skate sharpening services are available Monday through Saturday. The door is open Sundays to drop off skates and they will be sharpened on Monday morning.