‘Kick in the pants’: Unsafe ice conditions cause Bogart Cup game cancellation in Smiths Falls

Maverick Welk douses himself with water before the start of the game Sunday as the Smiths Falls Jr. A Bears hosted the Hawkesbury Hawks in a CCHL afternoon tilt on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2024. The Bears were to host the Cornwall Colts in Game 5 of the Bogart Cup semi-finals, but the game was postponed to Sunday, due to unsafe ice conditions, specifically, in the goalie creases. Photo credit: Laurie Weir.
Posted on: April 15, 2024

The Smiths Falls Jr. A Bears were looking to punch their ticket to the Bogart Cup finals in their CCHL matchup against the Cornwall Colts at home on Friday, April 12. 

There were some 1,200 fans in line to get into the Smiths Falls Memorial Community Centre to watch a potential deciding semi-final matchup.

But the ice had other plans. 

It was at 8:15 p.m. the game was cancelled – it was supposed to start at 7:30 p.m. — sending the Colts back to Cornwall and fans back home.

“It was a kick in the pants,” said Pat Malloy, the Bears head coach and general manager. “The financial blow alone … it’s a real black mark on our club.”

Malloy said they found out about the ice conditions before their warm up that night. The referees made the call to cancel it. 

“It was real slushy in the goalie crease,” Malloy said. “A kid could have broken an ankle, or worse. Better safe than sorry.”

According to the town’s director of parks and facilities, Stephanie Clark, the ice was “not sufficiently hard enough to play.”  

“Soft ice can cause an injury to players during the course of a normal game. The issue was resolved and ice was of sufficient quality to facilitate safe play by 8:30 p.m., however by this time, the game had already been cancelled.”

Clark said there were several factors that led to the issue – weather being one of the culprits, and a dehumidifier under repairs was another.

“The start and the end of the seasons are particularly challenging times of year to make artificial ice as temperatures climb outside, high humidity (as we experienced last week) plays a particularly important role,” Clark said. “One of our core facility systems is currently operating at 50 per cent capacity while we affect repairs to the dehumidifier unit. This, combined with heavy use during the day did not allow us to properly identify the full extent of the issue with enough time to react and resolve it ahead of the scheduled puck drop.”

What time were the teams notified? 

“Referees advised the staff of the facility that they were calling the game off at approximately 8:15 p.m.,” Clark said. 

How quickly did the situation get sorted out? 

“The issue was fully resolved at or about 8:30 p.m.,” Clark said. “In such cases as this, time is required to allow additional floods to rectify the issue. Flooding the ice warms the floor temperature, which then causes additional delays in achieving optimal ice temperature. While the area was small in size, it was in an area of high traffic on the ice surface; as such additional precautions were taken to ensure that the ice was in above optimal condition prior to sanctioning use again.” 

When asked about a backup plan, as the Bears subsequently eliminated the Colts on Sunday during their rescheduled match at home. Smiths Falls earned the series win with a decisive 6-1 upset in front of 600 fans – half of what was expected on Friday night. 

Clark said the operations supervisor is working with the town’s contractors to rectify the issues with our dehumidifier as quickly as possible. “When these units are repaired, the outside temperature and humidity will have less of an impact on the ice surface quality,” Clark said. “We have decreased the programmed fluctuation of the ice pad temperature that occurs in occupied and unoccupied modes, to maintain a consistent overall cooler pad temperature throughout the day.”

Clark added, “Operators have also increased the number of ice thickness checks throughout the day, and at this time, ice thickness will be kept on the higher side of recommended specifications. Operations staff and department management are reviewing the log books to better understand the identifiable trends and existing correlations between ice surface quality, rising outdoor temperatures, and humidity so that we can better predict potential issues ahead of time.” 

The arena is open annually into May as a standard practice, Clark noted. 

The Bears will meet the Navan Grads in the Bogart Cup finals beginning Friday night in Navan at 7:30 p.m. 

Smiths Falls’ first home game is Sunday at 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 24 it’s back in Navan at 7:30 p.m. and Friday, April 26, the teams are in Smiths Falls for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop. Sunday, April 28, game five will be in Navan at 3:30 p.m. 

“Friday nights are our best nights,” Malloy said. “I hope the fan support continues. They’ve been great all season.”

The coach said he’s looking forward to a tough series with Navan, the team that won the league pennant, and just ousted the Rockland Nationals in five games. 

“We’re excited,” he said. “Navan is a great team. We’ve had a lot of close games. It will be a great series … great hockey for the fans to watch.”

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News