The Grantsburg Youth Hockey program started in 1972 with 3 enthusiastic hockey families who moved from the Twin Cities to Grantsburg. The first sight of the rink was on the South end of town, on the East side of Pine Street. At that time it was used as a public rink with strings of lights strung overhead. There was a rink at the same location, in the mid ’40’s right after the war. This was used by a men’s hockey team.

In the fall of 1972 new boards of 2″x12″ planks were erected and by the time it was cold enough to freeze ice, Grantsburg had a hockey program. Most of the players the first year were in high school, but the next year there were players from age 5 through high school. Our association has grown and improved since then.

When the program first started, all we had was a rink. For the home games we made coffee and hot chocolate at home and set it on a card table outside the rink. We didn’t have a concession stand or warming house of any kind.

The following year we got an old shed and moved it to the side of the rink. That was our first concession stand. It was also used as a dressing room for the players. A wood stove in the corner heated it.

We first flooded the rink with garden hoses, which took forever. Then the village let us hook into the fire hydrants with hoses we got from the fire department. We really made ice then!

The village also let us use their bobcat with a broom in front to sweep the ice. If there was a big snowstorm the village crew removed the snow with their large tractors and buckets or we would hire a farmer with a tractor and snowblower.

Later on we were told that flooding with hot water made the hardest ice and wouldn’t chip like cold water ice. The village let us use their tractor and we mounted a 55 gallon drum on each side of the tractor, and on a 3 point hitch we attached a pipe with small holes drilled in it and a width of carpet behind it to drag the water smoothly on the ice. We got the hot water from the boilers in the basement of the village office, which was across the street from the rink.

In the beginning we were the only hockey club in this area of Wisconsin, so we played in a Minnesota Hockey League against eight other towns. We took our knocks the first couple of years. Our Squirt team lost a game to Mora 30-1. Two years later that same team as Pee Wees beat that same team 2-1. After that we never looked back. We could compete with any team in the class C division. The first couple of years we did not have uniforms. It was a big improvement when we did.

As the years went by we kept improving our program. We built a better and larger warming house. In 1981 we tore all the old boards down and constructed a new regulation size rink with round corners and chain link fence. We had team benches and penalty boxes. Later we bought an electric scoreboard. No more paper or stopwatches. Soon after, we make another acquisition, a used self powered genuine zamboni, but we still kept our tractor for backup.

Our program grew and the years rolled by. Different parents and players ran the program. In 1991 the hockey rink was re-built and put on the west end of the old football field on George Street. This gave us more room and we were able to construct a large structure with dressing rooms, a viewing area, concession stand and zamboni room.

Dick Michel

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