While it's warm outside, work is ongoing to get the Amherst Stadium ready for the winter season. The ice should be ready for Saturday' QMJHL game and the opening of training camp for the Amherst Ramblers.
AMHERST – While it’s a balmy 20 C outside, a group of individuals is working long hours preparing the Amherst Stadium for another season of skating.
Work began moments after the Amherst Police Department’s Cops for Kids graduation ceremonies were held there Friday afternoon and the ice will be ready for Saturday when the Moncton Wildcats host the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League exhibition game.
“It’s wasn’t long after the Cops for Kids program wrapped up that we went to work cleaning the floor and getting ready to cool down the building,” Parks and Recreation supervisor Ray Gouchie said. “The first thing is we had to do was clean the floor thoroughly because if anything is left on the floor the ice won’t bond to it. After that we have someone from Black and MacDonald come in and turn the compressors on.
“We let the building cool down for a couple of days and then we start making ice.”
There was a time, Gouchie said, when putting ice in the stadium in August would have been impossible, but renovations to the arena several years ago, coupled with new technology make it possible.
While the process of making ice hasn’t changed much over the years, Gouchie said the technology has. When the town completed multi-million-dollar renovations to the stadium several years ago it included insulating the roof and the floor and installing new computer technology that allows staff to monitor ice conditions, most importantly temperatures, at any time.
The goal, he said, is to get between an inch-and-a-quarter and an inch-and-a-half of ice on the surface before it’s ready for skating.
He said the building was cooled down overnight Friday and into Saturday before the first layer of ice was made. The lines, faceoff circles and goal creases were painted on Sunday.
It’s on top of this that artist Daren White is painting 36 logos.
“I always know summer is over when I get the call to paint the logos,” said White, who has approximately 34 hours to paint the logos.
Besides a few breaks, he will be working around the clock painting the logos, using photos of the logos and sketches as his guide. From Amherst, White will move to Springhill the first week of September to paint logos at the Richard Calder Arena at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre.
Once White finishes his logos, additional sprays will be completed to get the ice ready for game time on Saturday.
“We’ve got a really good crew working here and they’ll go the extra mile to ensure we have the best sheet of ice possible,” he said. “During the year we’ll also be talking to the users quite a bit to get their feedback on the ice to make sure it’s not too soft or not too hard. Their input is very important.”
Gouchie said stadium staff have received training from Jet Ice and the people who make ice for the National Hockey League.
“All our staff go to courses and what we learn what they do, only on a smaller scale,” he said. “We have good people here and they know their stuff.”
Gouchie said it generally takes 80 to 100 man hours to create an inch of ice.
Following the major junior game on Saturday, a full season of activity will begin with a hockey school and the Amherst CIBC Wood Gundy Ramblers training camp to follow, along with the Fundy Hockey School, a skating school and then minor hockey, high school, Junior C and rentals.