GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Winter sports are, by definition, cool. Actually cold.
At the Bon Secours Wellness Arena this time of year, that “cool” is felt in the arena temperature. There’s ice to keep frozen.
That’s something Ryan Lindsay, the ice maintenance supervisor at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, keeps an eye on.
”We like to keep the ice between 17 and nothing over 24 degrees, so there’s kind of a sweet spot of ice temperature.”
”If it gets too cold, your gonna chip out the ice, and if it’s too warm, it feels like they’re going to be skating in sand.”
In order to make sure the ice is playable, they have to factor in our ever-changing Carolina winter weather.
Greenville Swamp Rabbits Head Coach Andrew Lord also has to be aware of the ice conditions.
“If the ice deteriorates, in some buildings seven or eight minutes into a game or into a period, it can certainly change.”
”We’re aware of that, you definitely have to simplify your game as the period goes along. You can see that in the NHL, right; 20,000 people in the building it’s difficult to maintain those ice conditions.”
Yes, getting fans in and out of the arena can change the arena temperature; and the ice. That’s one of Ryan’s concerns.
”Those temperature changes can kind of shock the system sometimes, but it mainly stays pretty well as long as we’ve got doors closed and there’s not a big event where we’re loading in and loading out and it drives in more humidity.”
If we see a more Spring-like weather pattern, that humidity can be a problem. Much as water condenses on a cold beverage glass on a humid day, it condenses out when it hits the cold air of the rink, leaving a steady supply of water that turns the ice slushy.
”If the humidity gets too out of control we turn on some dehumidifiers”
Water on the ice is a good thing in small amounts. That’s where the Zamboni comes in.
“It takes out all the grooves that the players put in, collects the snow so the puck can slide across with as little friction as possible. Just lays down a bunch of water, tries to fill in those gaps as much as it can, and it keeps the ice fresh.”
This contributes to a fast-paced game, one that a growing number of area kids see and want to get involved in.
That’s something that the Swamp Rabbits are trying to grow according to Mark Shelley, manager of media relations for the Swamp Rabbits.
”Over at the Pavilion, the Greenville Hockey Association, they do a great job…especially starting those youngsters off and getting them out there.”
”We send players out and our coaching staff as well to help with these youth camps on these hockey days that they have.”
“Hopefully one day being able to produce a professional hockey player, maybe even a Swamp Rabbit that grows up here in Greenville, I mean that’s the ultimate goal.”
Now that would be as cool as the ice.