Since 1969 Wessman Arena has been the home of University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets hockey. This facility has been conditioned and primed to be one of the better arenas in the Division III college hockey landscape.
For a decade ice maintenance duty has been headed by Murray Brown who also operates the Olympia ice resurfacing machine. Hockey has been part of Brown’s life since his youth in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Wessman Arena recreational facility manager Brady Stocker said, “Murray played for the Thunder Bay Hurricanes and even coached with the Superior Amateur Hockey Association (SAHA).”
Brown follows a careful process to prep the ice for games. First the thickness of the ice is checked in different spots during the morning. Ideally it should be 1-1¼ inches thick. Then comes the manual chipping which removes particularly uneven ice that affects the puck.
Finally, the Olympia rolls out and Wessman Arena is conditioned to the high level Yellowjackets expect.
In the arena maintenance garage Brown showed the tools and processes used by the Olympia, “Using a blade sharp enough to cut your finger it gets tilted as it cuts a small amount of ice as the cold wash water is blown from jets that push the removed snow into the middle, so it’ll go up in the elevator as slush and into the box to be recycled…The recycled slush then fills in imperfections being sprayed with the shower bar to heat and smooth while a towel runs behind and finally smooths it out.”
Brown has been around hockey a long time and chose to take the job, “Because I love being around hockey.”
This can be seen in his care for the ice, community, the many hockey teams that skate on his beautifully smooth work. Stocker also mentioned the “Sunday Skate” where students can experience the rink firsthand.
Regarding the Sunday Skate program at Wessman Arena, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for the month of February. Further dates can be checked on the Wessman Arena website.