The man behind the microphone finally came home again this past month in Rankin Inlet – and he must surely have marvelled at his posh new surroundings.

Nellie Kusugak stands next to the plaque commemorating her late husband Jose Kusugak’s contributions to local hockey by naming the announce booth at the new Rankin Inlet arena in his honour this past month.
Photo courtesy Pujjuut Kusugak

For years the late Jose Kusugak was a staple of the local hockey scene in Rankin Inlet, spending countless hours in the -30 C comfort of the timekeeper’s bench at ice level in Rankin’s old arena to serve as the game’s public address announcer, music provider and part-time comedic entertainer during tournaments and play in the Rankin Inlet Senior Men’s Hockey League.

And, this past month, a commemorative plaque was unveiled naming the broadcast booth at the new Rankin Inlet arena in his honour.

Jose’s son, Pujjuut Kusugak, said his mom, Nellie Kusugak, gave Rankin rec co-ordinator David Clark the blessing to hang the plaque at the new arena.

He said his mom told Clark she was honoured by the dedication to her late husband.

“Right after that I let my sisters know, and they were very happy and very, very thankful, as well,” said Pujjuut.

“So a huge thank you to yourself, Darrell, for having it made – (yours truly was referee-in-chief for the Hockey North Branch at the time of Jose’s passing and brought the idea to former branch president Gary Vivian and the executive board, which agreed to finance the plaque) – and to David (Clark) for putting it up at the booth in the new arena.”

Pujjuut said the plaque definitely brings back a lot of memories.

He said he remembers the first time his dad talked about starting to play music at the hockey games and went about finding out if there was a PA system at the old rink.

“He told me one night he went to the rink to test out the sound system, and was playing some high-tempo music like rock and roll and then some slower stuff.

“He observed the players on the ice while he was doing this and he said you could, pretty much, put on the rock and roll and the game would pick up. Then you slow the music down and the pace of the game or scrimmage would slow down too.

“He said that was pretty funny to see, but it also gave him a chance to play loud music, which he absolutely loved doing, especially while he was getting to watch live hockey at the same time.

“He told me many, many times about how much he just loved watching hockey, and it didn’t matter if it was senior men’s, old-timers or the youngest kids, he loved it all.

“I hope the plaque helps add some character to the new arena and brings back a few happy memories to everyone who remembers the joy my dad had for doing it and his love for the game.”

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