Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ice Edger Between Periods

First, WOOHOOO BIG WIN CYCLONES!!! They boy's took the Gwinnett Gladiators to school tonight on fundamental hockey. The Gladiators have a lot of talent, but the Cyclones played good solid, blue-collar hockey. It may have taken a shootout but a win is a win!

Cyclones are back to a .500 record, climbing from the league cellar to 1-point away from first place in the division. Yahooooo!

Now, to the ice. You may have noticed Drew the Operations Manager going around the boards with a lawn mower looking machine before I go out on the Zam. That's an ice edger and is a lot like a lawn mower with blades to shave the ice. The edges always build up frozen muck from the snow being pushed up against the boards and the Zamboni going slower around the boards and leaving more water unless the operator is careful and reduces his water on the first lap.

Also the shaving blade is tapered on the ends so it doesn't leave grooves out on the ice. Between the length of the taper and the space of the side of the conditioner, it's about 5 inches in from the edge before the blade is cutting at full depth. On all the rest of the laps, the overlap takes care of the depth; but around the boards the blade is simply not cutting as deep.

So, the edger serves the purpose of cutting down that recurring high spot around the boards. Typically this is only done after-hours and the fans don't see it. But, right now we have a little problem. I've mentioned before that Zamboni machines get treated a lot like a boat - they are either sitting idle or running at full power most of their lives. They shake, vibrate, and occasionally parts fail.

In this case, part of the board brush broke early in the season and we're still waiting for the replacement parts. The board brush comes out between the front and back wheels on the driver's side, sort of like a street sweeper brush, and whisks the built up ice and snow out and under the Zamboni. It is then retracted after the first lap.

With this being broken, we're running the edger around very lightly just to blow the bulk of that frozen muck out away from the boards. This is also why you see the maintenance guys with shovels running around the corners because the conditioner dragging at the back of the Zamboni simply can't fully follow the curvature of the boards in the corners. Again, usually the board brush is my best friend here, but until it is repaired, we're doing it "Old School."

Whatever it takes to help the team win. That's our job, to make their playing surface as good as it can possibly be (which may not be perfect) to give them their best chance at victory. That's the only reason I have a job. To help them win if I can.

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