The ice rink at the Civic Centre is one of the most heavily used surfaces at town. While many people may take it for granted that the ice will be ready to go come game or practice time, rink worker Brett Stava explains just how much work goes into making sure it is in top shape.
“A lot of people look out at the ice and assume that you just take the Zamboni out, lay some water down and it’s good. But with anything there’s maintenance, sometimes four hours of ice maintenance a night,” Stava said. “There’s 6 a.m. hockey four to five days a week, figure skaters once a week, recreation leagues and the Old Timers league. The local schools have been using the facility quite a bit lately, so you’ll get a group of 40 to 50 kids. It can run until 10-11 p.m.”
The ice comes up when seasons end in the spring to make way for summer events, which this year included a Tsunami Awareness Day as well as Toronto Raptors watch parties during the NBA Finals. But once summer draws to a close, it’s time for the rink area to once again become frozen in anticipation of the new hockey and figure skating seasons. Stava outlined the details of taking the space from cement to playing surface.
“You start your refrigeration plant, it’s a grey cement slab underneath the ice. You lay down a really thin layer of water, which freezes onto the pad. Then you have a big paint sprayer about six to eight feet wide with a bunch of spray nozzles, you mix up a bunch of white paint and then you actually go out and you paint the ice white,” Stava said.
“Next you come with a garden hose and a really fine spray and you seal it in. You build the ice up layer by layer, maybe 1/16 of an inch at a time. Once you have a base of a quarter inch you start to map out where the lines and circles will go. So there’s lots of measuring.”
The lines are actually vinyl now, so a blue line just rolls out and you tack it in place. Then take a garden hose to it and make a seal over it. Once everything’s sealed you start building ice by laying water on it. The ice really only runs about an inch in thickness if the pad is perfectly level,” he concluded.
Thousands of people will have the opportunity to see this ice on display during Hometown Hockey weekend, most notably during the CIHL game between the Prince Rupert Rampage and Terrace River Kings. Stava will certainly be around the rink in some capacity, perhaps even cleaning up the ice on the Zamboni between periods.
Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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