The Talk of the Town

Talk of the Town

The Talk of the Town

Wayne’s official title, this time around, is Lead Hand. He’s been doing the ice in Slave Lake, AB for 35 years, — and the past two weeks of those have been with REALice-treated water. He’d retired (held the title of ‘Supervisor”) two years back and was asked to come back this season.

Wayne’s reappearance at the Multi Recreation Centre was a sigh of relief for many. Garry Roth, now the acting CAO for the Town of Slave Lake, had applied for and been awarded, a grant for their REALice purchase through the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre’s REC program, an Alberta program for municipalities to lower their energy spend and greenhouse gas emissions. And although the REALice wall unit was installed in December of 2021, they only started using a couple of weeks ago, under Wayne’s supervision, for this season’s ice.

“Last season, we had some ice issues,” says Acting CAO, Garry Roth. “People were blaming the REALice for that, but we hadn’t even started using it yet! I think they (the skeptics) were just missing Wayne!”

Here’s what happened in the span of two weeks — putting the REALice down on existing ice, losing the ice due to a plant failure, and building it up again with REALice-treated water. Keep in mind that on July 18th, Hockey School was slated to begin.

Watch our short, 3-minute Operator 2 Operator interview or keep reading underneath.


Day 1 – July 4, 2022 – Two weeks before the start of Hockey School

Wayne called. He and his team had just finished shaving the pad with existing ice to just above the lines and logos, and was about to build it back up using REALice-treated water. He had some questions about the handheld nozzle that helps make up the REALice system, and wanted to know if he could use something other than the handheld to build up the ice. That’s a common question that we hear, and yes, you can use a spray boom or Mark IV Ice Painter – just make sure you’re using water treated through the wall unit. Or, give the handheld a try. It really makes dense, clear, durable ice, in thin layers.

That afternoon, Wayne sent through the first video.

“I’m really amazed at how glassy it looks,” he said.

Day 2 – July 5, 2022

Early the next morning, he sent over the selfie you see above: “Day 2 with my new friend. I think we’re going to get along perfectly.”

By the end of that day, he sent a text saying he was very impressed. And this: an observation we’d never heard before.

“Some workers just came in to the arena and said it smells more like a pool now. It’s just a fresher-smelling water, I believe.”

Then he sent pictures from their webcam showing the old ice compared to the new ice.

“Big difference,” he said. Take a look:

(We told him that, yes, it looks like night and day, but we’re tired of the nit-pickers who throw shade at us: new ice always looks good….so yes we see it, but don’t get too excited yet. Keep watching and let us know what else you see!)

Day 3 – July 6

Out came the ice resurfacing machine and they started laying down water with it.

“Love how it looks and freezing so nice. Way to go, REALice!”

Day 4 – July 7

“I’m already noticing the difference in the ice shavings and how the snow is starting to turn to cotton candy.”

Day 7 – July 10 – Tragedy – One week until Hockey School begins

“Sad news. Started at 5 AM today and when entering my arena I came to a puddle of water. The compressors shut down Friday so my arena is now a pool. I have to redo the complete ice.”

Day 8 – July 11 – Out came the front end loader. One week to Hockey School.

July 12 – Day 1 of putting the REALice ice in from Scratch

Wayne called.

“It’s hot out. The cold water isn’t cold – the floodwater is at 22°C. Will that be okay?”

“That’s okay. The only problem is, with water that warm, you might get burn marks in the ice from the hose.”

“That’s not a problem. We’ve got a team who can keep the hose off the ice.”

The next text came just before noon:

“Wow can’t believe how shiny this realice is,” he wrote

That afternoon, the white paint went down.

“The white ice seems even brighter than ever before.”

July 13 – Day 2 of Putting the REALice ice in from scratch. In go the Lines and Logos.

Day 3 – They sealed it in

Day 4 – The bulk of the work was finished.

Day 7 – Hockey School begins

“I’ve just been told by the instructors that this is the best ice they’ve been on,” Wayne says. “Man, everybody’s talking about the ice now – people are coming to see it. It’s crazy here. Before I left the town I was the supervisor then I retired and they called me back basically lead hand right now or better known as a supervisor. But after all the compliments on the great ice that we have now, I think I might be called the ice god LOL.”

Day 8 – The Midgets’ Hockey School begins

“They all came to me and said this is the ice of the ice… What did I do to it? ‘Phenomenal,’ they said. They skated hard and it looks like it’s just put it in again I’m so happy with the ice.”

And then Mayor Warman stopped in.

“He couldn’t believe that it was so nice looking,”

Run time – that’s down to 58 hours a week from 168. Wayne says the ice is barely creating any snow, either.

And that early morning dry shave we keep talking about?

“Doing that dry scrape in the morning before your first groups sure makes a difference on the ice.”


“I’m just totally amazed about this new ice. And like I said, I’ve been around for 35 years and this is the first I’ve ever seen anything of such beauty. I’ve always been in love with my ice, but now I’m in love with it even more.”