The wolf is watching.

Those who turned out for the Oct. 20 grand reopening of the Cottage Grove Ice Arena saw the painted likeness of the Park High School mascot glaring down from a giant mural at the far end of the rink, green eyes blazing.

It's framed by the words "Wolfpack Hockey," in case anybody misses the point.

The mural gives the arena a whole new feel, Cottage Grove Mayor Myron Bailey said during the celebration, which drew about 300 people. A Park graduate, he said the mural eliminates any question about whose home ice it is.

"One thing's for sure," he said. "You know you're in the Wolfpack."

The mural, which was donated by the Cottage Grove Hockey Association (CGHA), is part of the $2.7 million renovation of the Cottage Grove Ice Arena. The CGHA also donated 60% of the cost of the new $40,000 scoreboard.

Instead of a ribbon cutting, Bailey joined elected officials and business leaders at center ice for a ceremonial puck drop.

"I'd like to thank city council for having the foresight to get this done," Bailey said. "This is one reason people are moving to Cottage Grove."

The city contracted with Total Mechanical Services, a construction firm in St. Paul Park. They installed a new refrigeration system and replaced the north rink floor.

Total Mechanical president Bruce Pylkas said they installed 10 miles of fusion-welded pipe under the north rink. The sand under the floor was removed and replaced with concrete, which means the rink can now be used for activities in the offseason.

Crews also installed a humidifier in the south rink, which will reduce the stress on the new cooling system, Pylkas said.

The ice is now cooled by ammonia instead of the R22 refrigerant the city had been using since 1974. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has mandated a phase-out of new production of R22 because of its potential harmful effect on the ozone layer.

The puck drop ceremony also included State Sen. Karla Bigham, DFL-Cottage Grove, CGHA president Steven Frosch, business owners Wayne and Angi Butt, and Cottage Grove Parks and Recreation Director Zac Dockter.

"It's a fantastic upgrade for a very well-utilized hockey rink," Bigham said. "I applaud the City of Cottage Grove for their leadership."