Friday, January 03, 2014

Still bad about posting...

Hello readers. My most recent-drop off from contact may appear to be the most inexcusable. I figured that in my quasi-full time role as Ice Meister, I would have more time to dedicate to blog entries. I was mistaken. Add a dose of general procrastination, and this is what you get. My apologies.

There is a lot I could cover over the four months of the 2013-14 season so far, so I will try to make some general comments and observations.

First, Coach Ben Simon. I am very impressed with Coach Simon, in every respect. He has the grit and presence of Coach Weber, while being affable and approachable, more like Coach Skalde. The players have bought in to his ways, and a few who did not have been given the chance to be successful elsewhere. There was no particular player reference that should be inferred there. It is just a general statement about transition of coaches.

Coach Simon’s record speaks for itself. Starting the season 7-0 was a fantastic testament to his leadership and systems. Then the team showed that they are human but have still managed to stay in first place in the division.

Around the building, Coach clearly has a graceful but commanding presence with approachability and sense of being at ease with others of all positions within the building. Certain circumstances, which are unworthy of the time it would take to type them, put me in a position to work with him directly more already than I ever did with Weber and Skalde combined. Again, he was just great to deal with. It felt like collaboration, which was cool.

Next, speaking of being in first place, those pesky Evansville Icemen are worth mentioning. I have to give them credit for coming on strong in only their second year in the league. They went from whipping boy to contender in one season. That is respectable. It is always cool when they play and Cincinnati and we get to see Terry Ficorelli, the original “voice of the Cyclones.”  For the past several weeks, the Cyclones have held first place while the Icemen actually had a better record but have played fewer gains to earn the points. They even passed the Cyclones momentarily.

The game that was postponed, and now will be played as late season, could very well come down to deciding who wins the division. I like our goals for/against ratio against them. And I like our team, overall, but they cannot be taken for granted. Both coaches are well aware of this fact. They just prepare the team for each game and try to keep improving.

Finally, the ice. The primary reason for this blog’s existence. It has been an interesting but positive year in terms of ice operations. Our former Zamboni mechanic is Michigan became ill and was unable to work on our machine this year. We finally found an outfit out of Virginia, LSK Enterprises, and they came to the arena with a fully equipped service van. They are an Olympia dealer (Zamboni’s only real competitor) but have good experience with Zamobni machines. We put about $5000 worth of new parts on the machine, with a complete overhaul of the conditioner - the part that lowers down to scrape the ice, collect the snow, and disperse the water. This has made a huge difference in the quality of resurfacing we can do.

They also set up a plan for some maintenance next summer, routine things that are not necessarily needed annually but can’t be ignored. Our machine, while old, is in really good shape and will be in top form for next year.

As is customary, we had Disney On Ice early in the season, prompting a long Cyclones road trip. Disney requires the ice to be painted white, with no lines or logos showing. We have to apply the white paint then seal it with clear on top. We add up to an inch in depth to the ice, which makes it softer like figure skaters prefer. Even with the added depth, some of their landings dig all the way through to the concrete! We have to patch regularly while they are here.

Then when they leave, we have to cut that extra inch back out to reveal the lines and logos, then add some clear depth back on top. It is a painstaking process that takes a couple of days to do right.

This was a good dry run, because when the NCAA regionals come in the spring, we will have to do the same thing. They also do not allow any logos to show so we’ll have to paint a whole new layout on top of the Cyclones ice just for their games. The ice making crew will be busy because the ice comes out completely for the circus, then the Cyclones sheet will go down for a couple of games, then the NCAA lines will go on top of that, then cut back out for the remaining Cyclones games.

I foresee several days when a core of us will not leave the building.

You may have noticed that I missed a few games in November and December. New Operations Manager Jeremy had to take care of the ice while I was away for Thanksgiving. Then I missed Tuesday night games because of a night class.

As we are now officially in winter, the ice is a little easier to maintain. We are not fighting outside temperature and humidity as much, so we have a more consistent sheet of ice. Jeremy and I have been more active this year in maintaining the ice depth than in years past. We we regularly measure the depth at about 25 points and keep a log, then use that information to cut out high spots and flood in low spots. This is more energy efficient and helps the ice to feel more consistent to skaters.

I will try to post more regularly, even if they are just short “what’s happening now” type of posts. As always, if you have any questions please ask. It helps me with content!



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