After dipping to nearly -25 C overnight, the temperature in the Edmonton area soared to the freezing mark Tuesday morning. While the warm winter weather was a welcome reprieve for the players at the World’s Longest Hockey Game, it made for somewhat challenging ice conditions.
“It’s not good particularly for the ice because all we can do is dry scrape,” Mike Mesi said of the weather. Mesi is one of the zamboni crew members working around the clock to keep the ice in tip-top shape out at Saiker’s Acres.
“We cannot add any water to the ice because it won’t freeze. So once it gets cold again we’ll start building ice as we do our floods, but right now we’re dry scraping to keep the conditions as good as we can for the players.”
Rain also added an interesting element to the game on Tuesday. Organizer Brent Saik said in the past six editions of the game, they’ve never played in rain.
“We’ve played in -51 C, we’ve played in 10 C but it’s never rained for us yet. So we’ll check off every box. We’ll probably have hail soon, who knows,” Saik said with a laugh.
Mesi said the ice will hold up, as temperatures are expected to take a dive again overnight.
“It will stand up. If we had two or three hot days, the ice condition would deteriorate very badly and we have had that in previous years where we’ve had to start putting cones out for hazards, if you will, where the ice is melting.”
The team of volunteers that works on the ice operates two to three zambonis 24 hours a day. Each zamboni holds about 945 litres of water, and each time the volunteers flood the ice they typically put down two zambonis’ worth of water.
Crews flood the ice every hour.
“We run on an hour-and-10-minute cycle,” Mesi explained. “They have to play for one hour, then we come on and we have to be off and completed our flood within 10 minutes and they have to be dropping the puck otherwise the record will fall.”
The ideal temperatures for the game are between -5 C and -15 C, Mesi said.
“If it’s (colder) than -15 C it gets a little tough on the players, but you’ll see a lot of the players will have what look like little tea cozies on their skates to keep their feet warm.”
Forty hockey players have been on the ice since Friday morning. The players are attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest hockey game. The game also raises funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.
This is the sixth edition of the World’s Longest Hockey Game, which was held for the first time in 2003. Since then, the event has raised more than $3.4 million for the cause.
The game wraps up on Feb. 19 after what will end up being 251 hours of non-stop hockey.
To donate to the team or to a specific player (like Global’s own Kevin Karius!) click here.
The game is held in Sherwood Park, just off Wye Road. Here are directions in case you’d like to go cheer on the players in person.
Watch below: Ongoing Global News coverage of the 2018 edition of the World’s Longest Hockey Game
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.