A HEARTFELT ceremony to honour the ice hockey career of Newcastle North Stars icon Ray Sheffield moved a capacity crowd to its feet onSaturday.
Hunter Ice Skating Stadium was packed with people wishing to bid Sheffield farewell after 13 seasons with the North Stars and watch the team take on the Melbourne Ice.
Pre-game, North Stars general manager Garry Doré called on Sheffield to join him centre-ice. Surrounded by the North Stars and Melbourne Ice teams, Dore recalled Sheffield’s “amazing” and “outstanding” career.
Doré called to the ice 2002 teammates Gavin Thurston, Robert Duchemin, Fred Stephenson, Gicu Oprea, Rick West and Jeff Byrne and then-coach Don Champagne.
The move was to mark the momentous year when the North Stars, led by Sheffield, entered the Australian Ice Hockey League.
In a mark of respect, Melbourne captain Liam Webster presented Sheffield with an Ice jersey.
Doré then turned the crowd’s attention to watch as a large banner with the number 19, Sheffield’s number, raised.
After a pause, Dore announced the number would be retired.
Sheffield teared up and had few words to say when handed the microphone.
He simply said “thank you” and waved; He later said he had been lost for words.
“It was just amazing,” he said.
“I knew they were going to do something, but I could never have imagined that.
“It was just absolutely amazing.”
Sheffield said he would continue to contribute to North Stars team and organisation as part of the coaching and management team.