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16 Oct

Breakaway Magazine - Issue 2- Icing

By Elizabeth Casey | Video Produced by Matt Young | Photo Contributions by Ross Dettman

When the Chicago Wolves are in the heat of battle at the Allstate Arena, it’s easy to overlook the fundamental item that makes the game possible: the ice.


Creating the playing surface for the team is a complicated, four-day process, led by the Allstate Arena’s team of Billy Kirkwood (pictured), Terry Parks, Jim Napoli, Kenny Sansone, Jr., Greg Elliot and Carlos Olavarria.

This season, Breakaway went behind the scenes to watch as the floor went from concrete, to a glistening frozen sheet ready to host a pack of Wolves along their quest for the Calder Cup.

First, the floor must be cleaned thoroughly, then chilled to a temperature of 15 degrees.  This process takes two days using the building’s chilling system beneath the floor.

Next, Kirkwood and his team lay nuts down to mark the face-off dots and goal creases, and fill in any holes in the concrete to create a smooth surface.  A crew of 12-15 then uses a hose to set the first thin layer of ice to create a clear coat on the concrete and freeze the bolts in place.

A coat of white paint is then applied on top of the first layer of ice, followed by another clear coat with the hoses, and a second coat of white paint on top of that.  A third clear layer is sprayed on top to seal the white color in.

Yarn is then used to mark the placement of the lines and face-off circles on the ice, and the painting begins.

Stencils of the main Wolves logo at center ice, along with the sponsor logos from Jewel-Osco, Chase, Jim Beam, Pepsi, Bud Light and Allstate Insurance are placed on the ice.  Using a paint-by-numbers-like key, the crew paints the stencils by hand, carefully keeping the paint buckets inside insulated cardboard boxes so the temperature does not melt the thin layer of ice below.

Sprayers are used to add another clear coat of water, which will freeze on top of the paint, sealing it in.  This process is repeated with hoses for several more coats in order to build up the ice and ensure the paint is sealed.

After one day, Zambonis can hit the ice to continue to build up the thickness of the ice surface, coat by coat.  This process will continue until the ice surface is game-ready.

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