Celebration Marks Facility's First 50 Years, And a Bright Outlook as the Slater family ice arena
By Matt Markey '76
In February 2017, BGSU celebrated 50 years of Ice Arena memories while ushering in a new era with the naming of the Slater Family Ice Arena.
A weekend celebration commemorated the facility’s integral role in the Greater Bowling Green community, as the place where the Falcons’ rich hockey legacy has been sculpted and the careers of champion figure skaters have taken shape, all while the rink also hosted the highly successful Bowling Green High School hockey program, and promoted a long tradition of youth and family involvement.
“This building has been a very important part of so many people’s lives since its doors first opened,” said 1973 graduate Scott Slater, who saw his first hockey game here as a student in 1969 and now watches his grandchildren take the same ice as hockey players and figure skaters. The Slater family recently secured the Ice Arena’s vital role for decades to come with a $2 million gift.
“It has been a real asset to the community, and a place where the University and the community really merge together as a family. So many wonderful friendships have started here. That’s something of which we should all be proud,” Slater said.
Every element of that strong link to the community was evident at the 50th anniversary event, which included Mike “Doc” Emrick ’76 doing the play-by-play and then hosting the celebration program. With more than 400 people in attendance, there were dozens of Falcon Greats on hand, along with many people who have helped the Ice Arena to stand the test of time.
Highlights of the evening included a special Orange Carpet introduction and stage recognition for BGSU luminaries including Olympians Scott Hamilton ’94 (Hon.) and U.S. National champion figure skater Alissa Czisny ’09. Members of the 1984 NCAA Hockey National Championship Team and the 1987 CCHA Championship Team were recognized. Mark Wells ’79, who was part of America’s “Miracle on Ice” at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, was honored, as well as George McPhee ’82 and Brian Holzinger ’95, who are recipients of the prestigious Hobey Baker Award. Leaders of vision such as the late Sam Cooper, Jack Vivian ’67, ’90 and the late Ron Mason were recognized for their work in putting BGSU Hockey on the map as were the group of men known as the Originals who worked to develop the Hockey program before the Ice Arena even opened in 1967.
The evening concluded with a tribute to the Slater family for their generosity in advancing the future of the facility that means so much to them and to the BGSU community.
BGSU head coach Chris Bergeron said that in its first 50 years, the Ice Arena and the hockey, curling and figure skating programs it housed have impacted countless people and their families, including the Slaters.
“I think Scott’s gift shows everybody what this place has meant to him and to his family,” Bergeron said. “What a great way to celebrate 50 years – to put a name on the building, a building that has meant so much to so many.”
Calling the Slaters a “true Falcon family,” BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey said their name belongs on the iconic facility. “Through the years, they have made the University central to their lives with support of BGSU Hockey and many community programs such as high school hockey and figure skating,” she said. “It is fitting, and inspirational, that their dedication become a permanent part of the University with the naming of the Slater Family Ice Arena.”
Mike Natyshak, a member of the 1984 BGSU national championship team, said that the new sign along Mercer Road bearing the rink’s new name stands for something significant.
“There’s been some great hockey played here over the years, but this place is more than that,” Natyshak said. “This arena has been about bringing people together, from the University and from the community at large, and what the Slater family has done to secure the future here. Great things have happened in this building, but it’s always been because of the quality of people inside.”