Yellowknife’s curlers paid tribute to Terry Shea as the city’s leading ice-maker left the North on Sunday.

Shea spent a decade in Yellowknife, masterfully tending the curling club’s ice while acting as a coach to territorial teams.

A year ago, aged 54, Shea made headlines in his home province of Newfoundland when he helped Jamie Koe’s NWT rink defeat the hosts, skipped by Brad Gushue, 8-4 at the Brier. It was Koe’s only victory of the event, which Gushue went on to win.

Now, Shea is returning east.

“He shared his knowledge of ice making with almost every member of the club, and even if you didn’t curl but knew Terry, then odds are you knew the ins and outs of ice making,” said Kerry Galusha, whose team Shea coached at various Scotties championships.

“Terry is very passionate about his job and making sure all members at the club had the best ice possible to curl on. And not only does Terry love making ice, he also made a great coach.

“Terry basically lived at the club and was always very talkative about the sport.”

Shea worked for the City of Yellowknife on a contract which also included maintenance of various refrigeration and boiler units at municipal facilities.

However, his expertise was mostly directed at turning the Yellowknife Curling Centre’s hard-to-master sand base into excellent ice. Sand bases, now comparatively rare in Canada, usually require much more maintenance and are trickier to keep evenly cooled.

“The sand base made Terry’s job huge when it came to making ice,” added Galusha. “There were always lots of issues he had to deal with, but Terry – being Terry – made the best out of a tough situation.

“He always came through with great ice, year after year.”