It’s well known that Wayne Bacon, the chief ice-maker at the Multi Rec Centre in Slave Lake loves his job and takes it seriously. Just how good he is, though, is perhaps not very well known or appreciated.

So how about this? RealICE, the company that supplied the town’s new (since last year) ice-making system, has named Slave Lake’s the best ice out of all the community arenas it services. That’s more or less what the town announced on social media last week.

It may not be quite accurate, but according to Colleen O’Shea of Swich Services (the RealICE provider), what isn’t in question is the quality of the ice in Slave Lake.

“We know that they’ve got great ice,” she says.

Bacon recently got 95 per cent on the RealICE ‘Icemeister’ test. He says (and O’Shea confirms) he got a better score on it than she did!

“They’re sending me a diploma and gifts,” Bacon says.

RealICE uses a patented technology to remove air bubbles from water. This results in the ability to use cold water to flood the ice, instead of the traditional hot. It freezes much quicker; plus the temperature of the ice does not need to be nearly as cold as in a normal system. This results in “a tremendous energy saving,” O’Shea says.

Not only that, but it results in better ice. Two recent examples:

The recent Treaty 8 Cup,, with 29 teams playing over three days had “no issues with the ice,” O’Shea says. She got that information from Bacon, whose team had probably its busiest weekend of the entire season.

Then there was a U15 team from Cochrane that stayed overnight in Slave Lake on its way to a provincial tournament in LaCrete. They rented the ice in Slave Lake for an hour-and-half on a Thursday night, O’Shea says, and the coach found it was the best ice he’d ever seen. The Leader got hold of the coach, whose name is Craig Lane.

“We skated for longer than 90 minutes and the ice held out longer than the kids’ legs,” Lane says. “It was a perfect way to loosen up some stiff muscles from the drive up from Cochrane. We really appreciate the time in that fantastic facility, and hope to be back again someday.”

Cochrane apparently doesn’t have RealICE. Neither does High Prairie. Lots of places resist the switch to the new system, O’Shea says, because “it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.”

Bacon himself was skeptical, but he’s quite a believer now.

The town decided to go with the RealICE system due to the energy saving involved. A grant covered more than half the cost and with that, O’Shea figures the town probably earned its investment back in about six months, in energy savings.

Wayne Bacon at centre ice in the Tervita Arena. He leads the ice-making and maintenance team at the Slave Lake Multi Rec Centre, and has been getting some pretty good reviews.

by Joe McWilliams

April 13, 2023

This item copyrighted by / Lakeside Leaader   Slave Lake, Alberta

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