Two years we went looking for Las Vegas hockey dad Tommy Ricketts over at the Las Vegas Ice Center. His wife Charla told me “…he’s in the bleachers watching Beau play.” It was arctic cold inside the arena and we found Tommy all alone at center ice, about 3 rows up. He smiled and asked about our son Eddie and our grandson Jimmy Samuels. “I have some hockey cards for them. I know Jimmy like Flyers cards and I have some Mike Modano rookie cards for Eddie.” There was a roar from the crowd. On the ice #26 Beau Ricketts of the WSHL Las Vegas Storm junior team took apart a defensemen and was driving towards the net….
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
THE ONE AND ONLY – LAS VEGAS HOCKEY DAD TOMMY RICKETTS
By Lee Samuels
North Las Vegas – There were no seats left in the visitation room to see hockey dad Tommy Ricketts on a sunlit Wednesday. The family stood left and right of him. More family sat in the front row and Las Vegas hockey coaches including Larry Sanford, Micah Sanford and hockey folks including Randy Burridge, Dave Fehlig, Adam Stio were in the room. Visit Tommy there and then head inside of the LDS Church for services. That’s what the people at the church were quietly telling us.
Tommy Ricketts, 52, passed away last week. He is the father of hockey players Beau and Blade Ricketts plus his lovely daughters Tulsa, Kristan and Chy Anne.
No person should ever go what Tommy went through, years of pain while enduring medical treatment. But he always got out of those medical facilities to see his sons play hockey and he promised daughter Tulsa he would walk her down the aisle for her wedding with Brian. Tulsa clouded up, paused, then wiped the tears from her eyes when she told the wedding day story about she and her father.
Las Vegas hockey mom Patty Tamura came in and said her son Andrew and Beau Ricketts played on a hockey team when they were little, like maybe eight or so. Joe Raats, who has coached many star players in town, was the head coach.
“Beau had such a presence on the ice. I was concerned somewhat about the players on the other teams,” she said.
We told Beau and he laughed. “Yeah I like to check pretty hard even back then,” he said.
And what happened to Andrew Tamura who was a star goal scorer years ago for the AAA Rocky Mountain Roughriders. He’s out of hockey now, working on getting a real estate license hockey mom Patty said.
Larry Sanford, six-time Vegas Hockey Roller Coach of the Year, said Beau played roller hockey but was…eh…a bit too rough. “Penalty box stuff,” sighed Larry. “Ice hockey was more suited for Beau.”
Beau’s sister Kristan said “my father told me if someone was hungry, feed him. Not to give money, but food. So we took a lot of folks to places like McDonald’s and got what they needed.”
Tommy Ricketts told Beau “never ever quit” in the closing moments of a hockey game or in real life.
Then there was the story no one dared tell to hockey mom Charla.
Tommy years ago was driving a pickup truck and somehow, someway the right front door flew open and out went Chy Anne. It was scary but she got back in the truck and laughed it off. At least, we think she did. We were told this story when Charla was not around our little group.
There is one more service for Tommy in Utah tomorrow and then the family returns home.
For Beau, home is in ice cold Minot, North Dakota.
He plans to get onto the ice, shake out and play some house pickup hockey in the local rink there and get back to work.
And what kind of work is that…
“Concrete,” he said quietly just outside the church.