Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Oh What A Night! May 13, 2014

All that really matters is CYCLONES WIN! and advance to the 2014 Eastern Conference Championships. 8 wins away from bringing the Kelly Cup back to Cincinnati.

Secondarily, what matters is that I have fodder for an interesting blog post.

Other than that, my day was pretty crappy.  I got to the arena this morning for the Cyclones morning skate. Somebody said the fire alarm had gone off but they did not know why. Then as I walked through the building, Ft. Wayne was also there set up, so they would also have a morning skate. No problem, really, just a layer of complexity to the day. I had hoped they skated up there and drove down for the game.

Come to find out, there was a problem with one of the building's air conditioning unit. It would not be fixed by game time, and the building was heating up. Making it worse, several of the doors were open due to the construction inside the building. "We can deal with this," I thought. Might have to run "Blast Mode" on the ice plant and we'll be fine.

Silly me.

Turns out some components are shared between the building chiller and the ice plant. When I did my morning walk-through inspection of the ice plant, I noticed an alarm and notified the engineers. They would send somebody down later.  When I did my walk-through after the resurfacing for Ft. Wayne, there were more alarms and some audible detection of problems. Called the engineers back, they needed to get there right away.

The first problem led to a cascade of other problems. Some fail-safe did their job and relieved pressure before damage was done - but parts still failed and the chilling capacity of the ice plant was cut significantly. They had to shut it all done for the band-aid repairs, and by the time they got it running we were losing ice temperature and getting behind the 8-ball. Since the building was too warm and the ice chilling capacity was reduced, we were in trouble.

Did did dry cuts after practices to take some mass off the ice and take off the soft top layer. No water was put down to save energy/chilling demand. The ice was left until just before doors opened for the game. Then I did another dry cut to take off the soft top, and a regular resurface cut but with barely any water. Just enough to glaze over.

Same thing for the cut after warm-ups. We closely monitored the ice surface temperature and the temps of the brine solution going out to the ice and coming back. Much higher than normal. Still below freezing, but too warm for comfort.

On-ice intermission activities were cancelled to give me the full 18 minutes to work on the ice and give it extra time to freeze. I lowered the Zamboni blade until I could visually see a perfect deep shave all the way across the Zam. Normally I am limited to collecting one tank full of snow but this time I did not care about the rate of snow accumulation. I only cared about how the ice looked. With it perfectly shaved, I could use just barely a drizzle of water.

As expected, I filled the tank about halfway through the cut. Perfect. Taking off as much as I can in two tanks. Any less and the ice is not as good as it could be. Any more would mean another exit to dump and cut down on freeze time.

If you were there you could still see some wet spots. As the game ran on, the heat from the lights and the crowd built up and our strained capacity to keep it frozen was more and more strained. The ice was definitely soft and surface temperature was between 25-29 degrees, and getting slightly warmer over time.

But, we went the extra mile and did the best we could to give the best possible ice under the circumstances. It was not good ice by my standards, but we made the best of the situation. Outstanding teamwork between operations, marketing and administration, the engineers, the officials, and even both coaches and teams. We tried to keep everyone informed so at least they knew we were doing all that could be done.

I'm proud of the job everyone did and I truly appreciate everyone's understanding.


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