Ice hockey is a sport that combines physical prowess, teamwork and speed. It’s an exciting game that draws large crowds who come to watch the players glide across the ice, shoot the puck and score goals.
But have you ever wondered what happens to the rink after a game? Do they just leave the ice as it is or do they melt it down and start over again?
The answer may surprise you.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what really happens to the ice after a hockey game. We’ll look at the science behind maintaining the perfect skating surface, consider the environmental impact of melting ice, and reveal some interesting facts about hockey rinks you might not have known before.
“Hockey is a unique sport in that the playing surface requires constant attention and maintenance to ensure optimal conditions for players.”
We’ll also delve into the logistics of preparing an arena for hockey games and learn more about the people behind the scenes who work tirelessly to keep everything running smoothly.
If you’re a fan of ice hockey, or simply curious about what goes on behind the scenes of your favorite sporting events, then keep reading!
What Happens To The Ice After A Hockey Game?
Ice Maintenance Crew Takes Over
Have you ever wondered what happens to the ice after a hockey game? Well, it’s not like they simply melt the ice and start over. Instead, an ice maintenance crew takes over and gets things back in tip-top shape for the next game.
The first thing that happens is the laying down of a towel by the goalie crease to keep warm ice shavings from destroying the new top coat of ice.
Then, the crew comes onto the ice with shovels and scrapers to get rid of any built-up snow or rough patches. By clearing the ice, the players are able to skate faster, make better passes, and have a safer playing surface.
After this, the Zamboni makes its way around the rink. However, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t resurface or shave off the entire layer of ice on the rink. Rather, it lays down a thin film of hot water on the existing ice, which freezes almost instantly, creating a smooth surface.
Finally, before leaving the rink, the crew does one last check to ensure that everything is up to par and safe for the players. As you can see, there is a lot that goes into maintaining the ice for each game!
Ice Is Left Intact Until The Next Game
So now you know about the process of maintaining the ice after a game, but what happens once it has been fixed up and ready to go again?
The short answer is: nothing. That’s right – the ice remains intact until the next game. There is no need to melt it down and start over, as the job of the ice maintenance crew is to keep it in optimal condition.
There are a few exceptions to this. For example, if the ice becomes too damaged or if there is an issue with safety, such as melting water forming ridges on the rink, then the crew may need to melt the ice and start over before the next game.
Another situation that could warrant melting of the ice would be during a warm spell, where temperatures outside become so high that the ice inside begins to soften and skate marks cause damage. However, this is rare, and typically the ice will stay intact until the next scheduled game.
“It’s important for us to maintain the integrity of the ice after each game,” says Chris Martenet, an ice technician from London’s OHL team. “This not only ensures the safety of our players but also makes for better gameplay for hockey fans.”
The Bottom Line
While many people assume that the ice is melted down after each hockey game, this is definitely not the case. Instead, a dedicated ice maintenance crew takes all necessary measures to make sure that the ice remains in great condition throughout each game and beyond. Who knew there was so much more to maintaining ice than what meets the eye?
Why Don’t They Melt The Ice After Every Hockey Game?
Preserving the Ice Surface
The main reason why ice rinks do not melt the ice after every hockey game is to preserve the quality of the playing surface. Melting and refreezing the ice repeatedly can cause damage to the surface, creating inconsistencies that affect gameplay. Additionally, melting the ice requires a significant amount of water and energy, as well as time, which can impact scheduling for events such as tournaments or public skating sessions.
Craig Peterson, General Manager of Zamboni Services at Minnesota-based Innovated Ice, explains: “It takes about five hours for an NHL-sized rink to freeze from melted to playable surface, so melting between games would add six to 10 hours before the next game could be played.”
In order to maintain consistent playing conditions, ice resurfacing machines – commonly known by the brand name Zambonis – clean and smooth the existing top layer of ice without removing it completely. By adding thin layers of water on top of the old ice, these machines create a new sheet of ice in just minutes, with minimal disruption to the underlying layers. This method preserves the integrity of the ice, keeping it smooth, uniform, and at optimal thickness for moisture retention.
Efficiency and Time-Saving
Melting the ice after each game would not only take more time but also consume significantly more resources than necessary. Preparing a rink from scratch involves several steps, including using industrial-grade chillers to lower the temperature below freezing, applying base coats of water, and flooding the surface multiple times to achieve the desired thickness. Because preparing the rink is such an intensive process, it makes sense to avoid having to repeat the task unnecessarily.
Hallie Peebles at The Hockey Writers adds: “Melting and refreezing also takes time, which causes scheduling nightmares for arena staff. Depending on the weather and the efforts of the crew to fix problems that arise from melting, it can take hours or even days to get a rink ready for ice play again.”
Ice resurfacing machines ensure that each new layer of ice is smooth without requiring extensive preparation or additional resources. This not only saves valuable time for arena personnel but also minimizes waste, since less water is needed overall.
Preserving and resurfacing the existing ice after every game is a cost-effective solution compared to the alternative. Full-melt resurfacing requires a significant amount of labor, water, energy, and chemicals, which would be wasteful without providing any significant improvement in performance.
Marcus Grahn from Ice Rinks Australia says: “The ‘old’ ice helps keep the ‘new’ ice frozen while reducing condensation created by the temperature changes during the ice making process. Without this ‘base’, additional heat could seep into the concrete base causing it to warm up, requiring more electricity and thereby increasing operational costs.”
By reusing the existing ice as a base layer, arenas can save resources and reduce their environmental footprint while maintaining high-quality playing conditions. Additionally, smoother ice generates fewer air pockets while retaining moisture better, creating ideal skating conditions for both professional athletes and recreational skaters.
“Zambonis do a great job smoothing out the ice surface, ensuring consistent thickness across the entire rink, and making sure there are no bumps or irregularities that affect gameplay.” – Craig Peterson
Despite the temptation to melt the ice after every hockey game, it’s clearly more efficient and cost-effective to preserve and resurface the existing ice. This allows for a consistent playing surface while minimizing waste of labor, water, energy, and chemicals.
Do They Melt The Ice After Hockey Games?
It is a common misconception that the ice used in hockey games is melted and replaced after every match. However, this is not true. The ice remains intact for multiple games, with only slight adjustments made between matches to maintain its quality.
Consistency in Playing Conditions
One of the primary benefits of keeping the ice intact after hockey games is consistency in playing conditions. As ice surfaces can vary from arena to arena and even game to game, maintaining the same sheet of ice ensures that players are accustomed to the surface they are competing on.
A consistent sheet of ice also allows players to hone their skills under uniform playing conditions. This creates an equal footing for all teams involved, ensuring that success or failure is down to skill rather than external factors such as uneven ice surfaces.
Cost Savings for Teams and Arenas
Melting the ice after every game would be incredibly costly for both teams and the arenas in which they play. It takes around 10-12 hours to melt the ice sheet completely, meaning that it would need to be done overnight at great expense. Furthermore, the cost of installing new ice rinks each time is exorbitant, with some estimates placing the cost at over $40,000 per installation.
The maintenance and upkeep of an ice rink is also costly, so by keeping the same sheet of ice in place for multiple games, teams and arenas can save money on these ongoing expenses.
“With refrigeration systems costing upwards of $500K along with electrical costs and staffing requirements to keep making and resurfacing ice; it just doesn’t make economic sense to build delicate ice that will likely require repairs after one use.” -John Sanful, Facilities & Operations Manager at Ice Den Chandler
The benefits of keeping the ice intact after hockey games are clear. It ensures consistency in playing conditions, helps players develop their skills under uniform circumstances, and saves both teams and arenas vast amounts of money.
So next time you see a hockey game taking place on what appears to be familiar ice, remember that this is due to careful maintenance rather than fresh installation!
How Do They Maintain The Quality Of The Ice During Hockey Games?
Hockey is a fast-paced and intense game that requires excellent ice quality for optimal performance. If the ice melts, it can cause interruptions in gameplay and impact overall player safety.
Regular Zamboni Runs
To maintain the ice’s quality during hockey games, local arena staff performs zamboni runs regularly before, after, and between periods of play. A zamboni is a machine that resurfaces and smoothens the ice by removing excess water from the surface, filling ruts with new snow made of finely shaved ice and hot water while leaving behind a perfect layer of uniform ice.
The zamboni driver uses different techniques to ensure proper production as they circle around the rink. Moreover, they adjust their blade settings based on the ice quality and temperature. This process also helps avoid any bumps or cracks that could make an athlete lose balance or fall on the ice.
“The ice needs just the right amount of moisture, which means keeping humidity low,” says Joe Louis Arena director of ice operations Al Sobotka. “High humidity makes the ice soft, slower, chippy.”
This quote by Joe Louis Arena Director of Ice Operations highlights how consistent optimum ice conditions are necessary because factors such as temperature and humidity affect gameplay, impacting athletes’ performances ultimately.
Ensuring Proper Temperature and Humidity Levels
Arenas have climate control systems to regulate moisture content and maintain the best playing conditions throughout the game. Area-specific sensors and computer technology assist the maintenance personnel when adjusting airflow, temperatures, and humidity levels to keep ice dry and hard.
The recommended temperature for NHL professional-level hockey blazed ranges anywhere from 16 to 21 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 to -6 Celsius), so it’s crucial to keep temperatures consistent with limited fluctuation and humidity levels between 30% and 50%. Anything above this range can turn the ice brittle, cause sudden breaks, create dangerous divots in the playing surface or reduce athlete performance.
Quality control takes a lot of planning, preparing, checking measurements, trial and error. The NHL’s regular testing has stronger humidity standards than most rinks around North America (i.e., Women’s professional hockey). Testing and controlling temperatures during games also have its’ challenges as body heat from players and more massive crowds contribute to fluctuations that require continuous adjustment for optimum ice conditions.
Maintaining optimal ice quality levels requires many efforts by multiple technicians and machines involved throughout gameplay and expert analysis based on temperature and humidity monitoring in arenas. As ice hockey competition evolves into bigger audiences and changing season circumstances, technological innovations in arena infrastructure and regulations must continuously adapt to deliver optimal ice conditions to ensure player safety, high-quality competition and entertainment experiences for all spectators.
Have Any NHL Teams Ever Melted The Ice Mid-Game? Find Out!
As an NHL fan, you might have heard about the ice conditions mid-game being affected by various factors. But have NHL teams ever melted the ice mid-game?
To put it simply, no, NHL teams do not melt the ice mid-game intentionally. In fact, they take several measures to prevent melting of the ice during games.
The ideal temperature for maintaining a good playing surface is around 22 degrees Fahrenheit or -5 Celsius. To maintain this temperature, arenas use powerful cooling systems that work continuously before, during, and after games. The arena staff also takes additional precautions like keeping the doors closed as much as possible and other measures to ensure that the ice remains firm through the course of the game.
While it’s possible for the temperature of the air in the arena to increase due to any external reasons, such a sudden power outage affecting the HVAC system, it’s highly unlikely for teams themselves to cause any issues with the ice. It should be mentioned that if any unexpected situation like this would occur, players, officials, and fans’ safety would always come first.
In rare cases where the ice melts midway through a game, several problems could arise. First, it would affect the experience of watching and playing hockey since skaters rely on balanced and smooth ice throughout the game. An uneven ice surface could lead to frequent slips, falls, and even injuries.
“An inconsistent surface can impact the way the puck bounces off the boards, how it moves across the ice, and how easy or difficult it is to control in general,” says Mark Messier, retired NHL centerman. “The only worse thing than playing on bad ice is having to watch it.”
Secondly, a heavily used sheet of ice can negatively impact the arena’s refrigeration system and increase operating costs. An NHL-sized ice rink requires approximately 10,600 gallons of water for each inch of depth; you can imagine how difficult and expensive it would be to replace so much water mid-game.
Lastly, melting ice could have an effect on the outcome of games. An uneven surface or “shoddy” ice could give one team an upper hand based on their experience with handling such situations while putting others at a disadvantage.
“Even if players want to continue after warm-ups, they’ll never compromise on ice quality during a game,” says Dave Tippet, head coach of Arizona Coyotes. “It’s not just about avoiding injuries, but also the way hockey should ideally be played – on good, solid ice.”
Even though melting ice in an NHL game is unlikely, the consequences could be severe if something like this happens. It might affect the gameplay, safety, cost, fairness, and overall experience of the sport. So, rest assured that the staff takes all measures necessary to keep the ice cold enough throughout any game.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do hockey rinks always melt the ice after games?
Yes, hockey rinks always melt the ice after games. This is to ensure that the ice surface remains in good condition for future games and to prevent any damage to the ice from skate marks or debris.
Why do hockey rinks need to melt the ice after games?
Hockey rinks need to melt the ice after games to resurface the ice and remove any skate marks, debris, or imperfections. This ensures that the ice remains in optimal condition for future games and provides a safe and smooth playing surface for players.
Is it expensive to melt the ice after a hockey game?
The cost of melting the ice after a hockey game varies depending on the size of the rink and the method used to melt the ice. However, it is generally considered a necessary expense to maintain the quality of the ice and ensure a safe playing surface for players.
How long does it take to melt the ice after a hockey game?
The time it takes to melt the ice after a hockey game depends on the size of the rink and the method used to melt the ice. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day for the ice to completely melt and be resurfaced.
What happens to the melted ice after a hockey game?
The melted ice from a hockey game is usually drained, filtered, and stored before being reused to create a new ice surface for future games. Some rinks may also use the melted ice for other purposes, such as watering plants or cleaning the rink area.
Do all hockey rinks have the same process for melting the ice after games?
No, different hockey rinks may have different processes for melting the ice after games. Some rinks may use hot water or specialized equipment to melt the ice, while others may use a more manual method such as scraping or chipping away at the surface.