Saturday, February 28, 2009

2-27-09: A Night Of Imperfection

Those of you at the game on Friday February 27 know that it was a night of imperfection. Our Cyclones showed their imperfection as they were out-skated, out-smarted, and out-worked by the Elmira Jackels. Elmira played with more passion; they won the little battles; they played smart.

This year, the Cyclones team is human. They are more playing at their level, rather than way above like last year. Still, they are an excellent team. They are .591 after 55 games and second in the division. Johnstown definitely has a leap over them with two more points in the standings and two games in hand; but Elmira is tied in points and has played one more game than the Cyclones. Our boys really need to win tonight and not let Elmire have those two points; but we are strongly in second place.

At this point last year I was really worried that the Cyclones were over-achieving and would fizzle out. Of course they did not and they brought home the Kelly Cup. Since this year they are proving themselves to be human, I'm not worried. They are in good standing to have a strong finish and possibly go all the way again.

Your humble Zamboni driver was rather imperfect last night as well. If you were there and watched me in the first intermission, you saw my crash into the boards on the west-end. Wow, it scared me. I thought I was going through the boards. I was so mad at my self that I felt like I could vomit until I finally fell asleep last night.

What happened? Well, put simply, I screwed up. I make no excuses. As I give the analysis of what happened, understand that I am not trying to minimize my mistake - only explain it. As mentioned in previous posts, the Zamboni has a hydrastatic transmission. It is all hydraulic and there is no "neutral" like in a car. In a hydrastatic transmission, neutral is all wheels locked instead of all wheels spinning freely. When I let off the pedal (which is not a throttle, it is a transmission clutch control) the wheels lock up.

While driving, smooth is the key. Smooth acceleration and smooth deceleration. I was running a little late getting onto the ice and I was slow in my first lap. The rest of the time I was rushing, trying to make up time or at least not lose any more. So, I was not very smooth. I was going full-out in the straight stretches, and not slowing down until the last minute.

On the lap in question, I waited too long to start slowing down so I let off the pedal almost completely. Well, that caused the wheels to lock up. Like slamming on car brakes on an icy road, that put the Zamboni into an uncontrolled skid. I'm pretty good at driving on ice (rink ice and road ice) and I can usually recover from a skid and control a vehicle.

But in this case, I simply did not have enough time nor enough space to recover. I put it in reverse and gunned it; but it was too little, too late. It did take the edge off, so to speak, but I still crunched the boards pretty hard.

Fully loaded with water, the Zamboni weighs over 8700 pounds! That is a lot of mass sliding at the boards, even if only at 9 miles per hour. That's over 20,000 ft-pounds of energy, out of control! It's about the same as a small economy car losing control at almost 20 miles per hour.

Shew. I was just sick. Thank goodness it did not damage the boards and delay the game.

I'm human. I'll bounce back. So will the Cyclones!


Blogger WendyB said...

Whoa... I can see where that would have gotten your heart going! Thank goodness you (and the boards) were okay! There is a reason they only let trained professionals like you drive the Zamboni, and we are certainly lucky to have you out there, doing just that.

3:10 PM  

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