The Marsh family got together to celebrate the unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Fred Marsh. Photo Gerry Leibel

Plaque recognizes Fred’s contribution to hockey

He was a larger than life person who cared deeply for his job.

Kitimat legend and inventor of flexible goal posts Fred Marsh’s life was commemorated with the unveiling of a plaque at the Tamitik Arena on June 2.

District of Kitimat Leisure Services director Martin Gould said the plaque was commissioned by the District shortly after Fred passed away in 2016.

“A number of District staff and members of the public commented that it would be nice to recognize Fred, as well as his contribution to the world of hockey,” said Gould. “The staff wanted to remember Fred because he was a well-liked boss.”

Gould’s proposal to commission a plaque was supported by council who felt it was important to recognize Fred for his contribution to hockey.

Gould approached Fred’s son, Kelly Marsh, who discussed the idea with Fred’s widow Sheila Marsh. Both thought it was a great idea and they set about compiling information that would go onto the plaque.

“The District and the Marsh family agreed on the final wording. It was important to get the right words because we didn’t want to dictate what was said,” said Gould.

Together with the family’s favourite picture of Fred, and a condensed version of the information, the Marshes provided a design for the plaque, which was commissioned by the District and unveiled in the arena.

Gould said the plaque was important to the District because of how important Fred was to the community and the people that worked with him.

“He was a larger than life person who cared deeply for his job and the people of Kitimat,” said Gould.

Fred worked for the District from 1973 to 1995 in various roles and retired as the arena co-ordinator. Hockey was always an important part of Fred’s life and he combined his passion for the sport with his work, first at the Kitimat Ice Rink and then the Tamitik Arena, when it was built.

At both arenas he excelled at making the very best ice possible, expertise which he shared with other arenas that were having ice problems.

However, the one thing that bugged him through all his years being involved in the sport was seeing many hockey careers shortened by injuries caused by players crashing into hockey nets held rigidly to the ice by metal posts.

In 1984, the District was looking for a safer goal anchoring system to replace the metal posts and Fred began working on a better system, experimenting with eight inch lengths of rubber fire hose.

After many modifications Fred finally patented his Marsh Flexible Goal Pegs in 1986, which became known world-wide simply as the Marsh Pegs.

In 1991 the Marsh Pegs were adopted by the National Hockey League to be used in all of the league’s arenas.

In 1995, Fred decided it was time to retire from his position at Tamitik arena and focus on promoting and selling his Marsh Pegs. Presently, Marsh Pegs are the recommended goal anchoring system in the NCAA league and other professional hockey leagues in North America.

Fred had many other ingenious inventions, including labour saving devices such as line painters for putting the lines and circles in the ice, skate helpers, an improved design for hockey nets and an ice-edger that melted the ice around the boards.