Firefighters, officers prepare for hockey faceoff

The outdoor rinks behind the Superior Ice Arena were teaming with mischief Friday even before the fire truck showed up. While Superior firefighters practiced hockey on one rink, members of the Superior Police Department posed for a mannequin chal...

Left to right, members of the Superior Fire Department, left to right, captain Joe Tribbey, Fire Chief Steve Panger and driver Camron Vollbrecht, practice for the Guns-N-Hoses pond hockey challenge Friday behind the Superior Ice Arena. Maria Lockwood

The outdoor rinks behind the Superior Ice Arena were teaming with mischief Friday even before the fire truck showed up.

While Superior firefighters practiced hockey on one rink, members of the Superior Police Department posed for a mannequin challenge on the other. They took aim at their opponents with water balloons, fire and a Taser while Sarah Mayne filmed them.

The teams switched sides and firefighters took jabs with a deluge of water, a softball trophy and a donut suspended from a hockey stick.

The mannequin challenges, to be posted by #WEARESUPERIOR this week, are a prelude to the upcoming Guns-N-Hoses pond hockey game. Members of the police and fire departments face off against each other at 6 p.m. Jan. 27 at Barker's Island as part of the Lake Superior Ice Festival. The event is free.

This will be officers versus firefighters, round two.


The first salvo took place this summer. The Superior Fire Department walked away with a 20-10 victory in the Guns-N-Hoses softball game during South End Days.

"I think they're looking for revenge," said fire department driver Camron Vollbrecht.

Off duty team members practiced in earnest Friday, with both chiefs making an appearance.

"I enjoy the friendly competition and that is what it is - friendly," said Police Chief Nicholas Alexander. "Although SPD and SFD historically have had good relationships, the games help bring our staff together and get to know each other better. It helps all the new hires and younger faces to get to know each other as well."

"Of course it is friendly, but we do keep score," Fire Chief Steve Panger said.

Vollbrecht enjoyed the softball game, although he injured himself in practice and couldn't play.

"It was fun to get outside, hang out with officers and other fire department members and to do a little physical exercise," the driver said.

Members of the public who attend the game got to see a different side of those who serve.


"It's important for people to know we're human, too," said Police Officer Tyler Rude. "We have families, friends, we like to have fun just like everybody else in the community."

During the softball game, police officers lobbed water balloons at the firefighters; a donut on a stick was employed to distract police department batters and a chalk line was redrawn with a fire extinguisher.

"I heard it was a fun game full of shenanigans and was well received by PD, FD and the public and I support it happening again," Alexander said.

Both he and Panger showed off their hockey moves Friday. They also talked a little smack.

"I expect the PD to pull off a win during the winter games," Alexander said. "In the end it will be apparent the firefighters should just stick to flooding the local rinks."

Panger said the chiefs are being tapped to play goalie for part of the game.

"If so I will be taking shots from the firefighters," he said. "I don't want Nick to get hurt; he's delicate."

Many of the officers and firefighters grew up in the Northland playing hockey, most for fun.


Rude said the police department's top hockey talent includes officers John Fontaine and Adam Johnson. When asked to single out a player from the fire department to watch, he picked Vollbrecht.

"I hear he's quite an athlete on his skates," Rude said.

Vollbrecht said three members of the fire department's team grew up playing high school hockey, others have kids in the sport. He chose Officer Jeffrey Dwyer as the police officer to watch.

"His brother used to be on our department," Vollbrecht said. "We're expecting him to be pretty good."

Kalee Hermanson coordinated the softball showdown. She's back at the helm for the hockey challenge.

"The SPD and SFD have been nothing short of amazing to work with," Hermanson said. "I admire the time and dedication they put into the community on and off the job. They are troopers."

They were quick to volunteer for both contests.

"They love being able to get together outside of their jobs, so when I asked them about hockey they didn't hesitate," Hermanson said. "I would expect to see the rivalry and pranks continue into the pond hockey game."


For more information, visit or the Lake Superior Ice Festival Facebook page. The mannequin challenges are expected to be released on the We Are Superior Facebook page this week.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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