On Monday Red Berenson taught Sam Webb and the rest of the media a little bit about ice.  Here’s what he said (thanks to Ira at WTKA for the clip):

Building on Red’s description of the surface for Saturday’s game, I thought it’d be cool to take a look at how the ice has evolved over the years.   Where did I find a lot of this info?  John U. Bacon’s outstanding book Blue Ice of course, get yours if you don’t.

“Outdoor/Outdoor” Ice (1900-1916): Michigan hockey, or at least something like it, started after the turn of the century as students formed ‘The Huron Hockey Club’—a group of students that played the game on the Huron River and its “outdoor/outdoor” ice.  According to Blue Ice, in those early days instead of sweaters they wore bowler hats, coats and ties.  In lieu of pucks they used things “tin cans, wood blocks, frozen fruit and even packed horse manure.”  I’m guessing you could also find a little bit of “maize ice” near the woods back in those days.  For years the group lobbied the athletic department unsuccessfully for funding and more importantly, for its place amongst the other varsity sports.

“Indoor/Outdoor” Ice (1916-1927): The sport (and ice skating in general) was growing in popularity as the years went on.  Eventually the athletic department provided help but this action was prompted, in part, by tragedy.   In 1916 a student fell through the ice of the Huron and died.  The school reacted by working to find safer arrangements for the club.  They first attempted to form a rink on the Ferry Field tennis courts but this didn’t fly.  Eventually the university rented time at the Weinberg Coliseum, Ann Arbor’s lone ice rink giving the hockey enthusiasts a safer home.   The Coliseum was essentially ‘indoor/outdoor’ ice, that is, an indoor facility flooded and frozen by Mother Nature with an assist from the Coliseum’s open windows.  The hockey team earned varsity status in late 1922, but its playing surface was still at the mercy of the thermometer for a few more years.

“Indoor/Indoor” Ice (1928-present): Most of you know that his name adorns the hockey arena where U-M has played since 1973, but few understand the impact Fielding Yost actually had on the hockey program.  As athletic director, Yost not only purchased the Coliseum (in 1925) but in 1928 as part of his commitment to provide Michigan students with the finest facilities, he outfitted the rink with artificial ice.  Yes, it was Yost who first delivered the “indoor/indoor” ice that the maize and blue have skated on since.

“Outdoor/Indoor” Ice: (Saturday): Ah yes, that brings us to Saturday when we’ll see how the boys fare on the Red’s ‘outdoor/indoor’ ice in front of 111,000+.

Want more?  Listen to the WTKA 1050AM pregame show on Saturday or better yet, check out John U Bacon’s outstanding Blue Ice!

1 Comment

  1. I'm a fairly casual hockey fan, but i really enjoyed Blue Ice.

    John Bacon is one of the few sports writers that I actually consider a decent writer in general.