KENSINGTON – Robert Wood never thought he would be driving a lawn tractor instead of a Zamboni around the ice surface at Credit Union Centre.
But that’s what the arena manager was doing Tuesday, cleaning the floor after the ice had to be removed earlier in the morning. The Kensington rink was scheduled to open Monday evening, but with the town losing power as a result of post-tropical storm Dorian from early Saturday evening to Monday night, the original sheet of ice was lost.
The ice had been painted and the logos, lines and circles were beginning to run.
“We had two options,” said Wood. “One was to risk it and try freezing it again, or take it out and start again.
“With us being so busy we did not want to take that risk and end up losing our ice later when it’s much busier.”
Wood added the plan was to restart the plant on Tuesday and begin the process of cooling the floor down. He was hopeful flooding could begin again Thursday and, if everything goes as hoped, was eying an opening of between Sept. 19 and 21.
Wood said there was three-quarters of an inch of ice when the power went out. He noted that would have been built up to an inch and a half before opening, adding the timing could not have been worse.
“If we had a little more ice it would have bought us a little more time,” he said. “But we are staying positive and going to work hard to get ready as soon as we can.”
Kensington was not the only Island arena impacted by Dorian.
The Evangeline Recreation Centre in Abram-Village altered its ice plans after hearing the expected severity of Dorian’s storm.
“We were hoping to have ice ready for Monday, but we ended up holding off until the storm passed,” said arena manager Joel Bernard on Tuesday afternoon.
“We were supposed to start painting last Wednesday and when the forecast came out I told the boys we were going to sit it out for a bit. We just got our power back (Monday) night around nine.”
Bernard, who added there were some puddles of water, explained the decision not to paint before the storm may have saved the ice.
“The reason I didn’t paint is because if the paint runs into your base coat, when it refreezes often enough it doesn’t bond as well and then your ice starts chipping off and breaking apart,” said Bernard. “It just doesn’t freeze as well after.”
Bernard “flooded a couple of times” Tuesday morning and was planning to flood again in the afternoon. If all went well, he hoped to be painting Tuesday night. He added the ice is currently a quarter of an inch thick and that would be built up later in the week. He hoped the arena could open Friday.
In Summerside, community services director JP Desrosiers noted “we were spared.”
The ice has been in Eastlink Arena since August and the Ice Pad’s surface will be installed next week.
“A lot of the (electrical) circuits all around the city obviously went out, but the circuit that has Eastlink Arena stayed on the entirety of the storm, which we were lucky,” said Desrosiers. “Now Phase 1, which is the aquatic side (of Credit Union Place), went down, but that didn’t impact the arena.”
Eastlink Arena’s ice was covered for the Grassroots and Cowboy Boots fundraiser for the Prince County Hospital Foundation on Saturday night. It’s interesting to note that had power been lost, there would have been a three-hour window to try and get all the seating, tables, staging and sub-floor removed before the sub-floor would start melting into the arena ice.
Timing was on the side of the O’Leary Community Sports Centre.
“We actually did not have our plant turned on when the hurricane hit,” said Dr. Wade Sweet, president of the rink board. “We switched it on Sunday evening when the power came back on.
“Fortunately, for us, we weren’t affected. We didn’t have to scrap our ice or repaint anything.”
Sweet noted the original plan was to turn the plant on Sunday morning, but with the power coming back on Sunday evening, he believes everything should be on schedule to open this Sunday, Sept. 15.
“We are just really happy the storm arrived before we switched our plant on,” said Sweet.
Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre almost lost its ice, said arena manager Greg MacLaren.
“We were close to losing it, but we lucked out. We saved it.”
If the power hadn’t returned when it did, they would have lost it for sure, he said.
“If it had been another half-hour we would have to have taken it out.”
A Charlottetown Islanders v. Moncton Wildcats QMJHL pre-season game scheduled for Sunday night was cancelled due to the power outage and bridge restrictions keeping the away team away, but operations resumed as normal with regular rentals on Monday.
MacLaren is already in the early stages of planning ahead, he said.
“In the future, we are looking into putting a generator in.”
Arenas operated by the capital city were unaffected, with the exception of the Cody Banks Arena.
A power outage from about 2 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday caused a slight increase in the floor temperature, said Jennifer Gavin, communications officer for the city.
Parks and recreation staff decided to cancel ice times on Sunday so the floor could return to normal, which was the only impact on services.
The Pownal Sports Centre suffered only sporadic power outages, so its ice remained unaffected, said arena manager David MacDougall.
“(Power) just went there a couple times. That’s about it.”
An alarm system at the arena notified MacDougall when the power went out, so he was able to react quickly to ensure systems were restarted each time.
MacDougall considers the rink one of the lucky ones.
“We knew (Dorian) was coming and just hoped the power wouldn’t go off.”
With files by Michael Robar