Maintaining the Ice at the 'X' is a Full-Time Job

Updated: 10/07/2013 1:45 PM KSTP.com By: Ellen McNamara

This week, 16 high school hockey games will be played at the Xcel Energy Center for the boys state hockey tournament.

The environment is electric, but to ensure the players have a good experience, the ice has to be perfect.

Travis Larson and his crew are responsible for creating and maintaining the ice.

The "X" is one of the premier places to play hockey.

But creating an inch and a quarter of ice perfection is not easy, it is more of a science, and Larson is the mad scientist.

"For hockey, your looking at 23, 24 degrees on the surface," Larson said.

15,000 gallons of water create the rink that players like Zach Parise skate on, as well as high school kids who one day hope to be him.

"We try and do the best we can to give them (players) the best experience," Larson said.

However, Larson who started working at the Met Center in high school, admits the two state tournaments put pressure on his crew. Especially when a game goes into OT, like the girls 2A semifinal between Minnetonka and Lakeville North, that went into six.

"We're running 16 games in four days, and we try to treat each game like an NHL game," Larson said.

During the tournament, the Zamboni will clean the ice anywhere from 18 to 20 times a day.

While basketball is not played at the "X," there is only madness going on in March.

In between the state hockey tournaments, there was a Maroon 5 concert, then after state champions are crowned, there are Minnesota Wild games, a Bob Seger and Kid Rock Concert, a Minnesota Swarm Lacrosse game, Pink performs March 19th, there is a college hockey tournament, a Rihanna concert, another Minnesota Wild game, Minnesota Swarm game, and then another Minnesota Wild game on March 30th.

"We'll have someone working all night long," Larson said.

Sleep is not something Larson gets on a regular basis, but he feels fulfilled just about every night.

"To see the building this size full each day, the energy in the building is just fantastic," Larson said.

45TV is airing all of the hockey games. You can also watch them streaming live at www.prep45.com.