Arena iced down for hockey


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Eleven miles of underground pipe at James Brown Arena were activated Monday morning for the first time in nearly two years. Minor league hockey returns to Augusta this month, and the three-day process of making ice started with a drop in temperature.

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Steve Weed (center), with Rink Specialists, sprays water onto the Augusta RiverHawks logo as co-workers Shaun Norris (left) and Ben Breton hold the vinyl taut at James Brown Arena. The water is laid down in thin layers to correctly form the ice.   Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Steve Weed (center), with Rink Specialists, sprays water onto the Augusta RiverHawks logo as co-workers Shaun Norris (left) and Ben Breton hold the vinyl taut at James Brown Arena. The water is laid down in thin layers to correctly form the ice.

"The ideal for hockey is 18 degrees (Fahrenheit) surface temperature," said Benn Breton, the owner of Rink Specialists. "That means you have to get the concrete down to 10 degrees."

The underground pipes were filled with saltwater to lower the concrete floor's temperature. Then Breton's three-man team, contracted by the arena, went to work transforming 17,000 square feet of concrete flooring into a hockey rink. More than 300 gallons of paint and up to an inch of ice will cover the floor when the job is completed later this week.

"It's nice to be able to see it," RiverHawks assistant general manager Ken Vezina said. "The whole process has been concept-only until now, and it's pretty exciting."

The RiverHawks, a Southern Professional Hockey League expansion team, will begin the regular season Oct. 22. Thirty minor leaguers are expected to report to Augusta on Sunday and begin a weeklong training camp in hopes of landing a spot on the opening-day roster.

Workouts will be open to the public free of charge, and the camp will wrap up with a pair of weekend exhibition games against Fayetteville. The Oct. 15 night scrimmage will be on the road, and the team will return home for the next night's game.

"We're ready for hockey," said Josh Small, the arena's director of event services. "We had a little bit of equipment we had to replace, but we've had everything taken care of."

Augusta lost its minor league hockey team when the Lynx folded in December 2008 after more than a decade of play in the ECHL.

Putting the ice in ice hockey

1. Lower the floor temperature to 10 degrees Fahrenheit using underground pipes filled with brine.

2. Spray a fine mist of water on the floor, which will freeze on contact at a thickness of no more than 1/8 of an inch.

3. Cover the floor with three coats of white paint specially formulated to bond to the ice.

4. Lay down another thin layer of water on top of the white floor.

5. Measure and paint the blue lines, center line, goal line, face off circles and creases.

6. Position the advertising logos that will lie under the ice.

7. Flood the entire floor with water, which will eventually freeze to a thickness of 3 an inch to 1 inch.

Learn more

FOLLOW THE RiverHawks, starting with next week's training camp, in Staff Writer Billy Byler's blog at

GET AN INSIDE LOOK with trainer Brian Patafie's blog at

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sjgraci 10/05/10 - 01:45 am
One of the best things I've

One of the best things I've seen happen in Augusta lately. Lots of good stuff going on in town. Professional hockey's return is one of those. Time to drop the puck!

trucksareforgirlz 10/05/10 - 05:20 am
Yay! Hockey's back! Now if

Yay! Hockey's back! Now if we could only get arena football and Bubba Diggs back.

Georgialina 10/05/10 - 05:55 am
I can hardly wait for the

I can hardly wait for the puck to drop. I already have my ticket for the preseason game and awaiting the season tickets to be given out. I am as excited as a kid at Christmas. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause!!!

fatboyhog 10/05/10 - 06:38 am
Hopefully, Augusta will

Hopefully, Augusta will continue it's support of this team..

countyman 10/05/10 - 12:19 pm
The Lynx lasted 10 years in

The Lynx lasted 10 years in downtown Augusta. I think we support hockey pretty good for a mid-size southern city. The Ice Forum off 520/Augusta West Pkwy hockey leagues get alot of use from the CSRA.

nadps53jrt 10/05/10 - 12:55 pm
Sure wish that arena football

Sure wish that arena football would return

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 10/05/10 - 01:19 pm
Now arena football played on

Now arena football played on the ice would be really entertaining!

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