Hockey in the Snow

They go together, ice and snow, and in hockey country you get plenty of both. It’s a bit strange, then, to think that yesterday was the first NHL game ever played in the snow. That’s because it was the second NHL game ever played outdoors.

Even on television, the outdoor game amid the swirling flakes was fun to watch. The players, apparently, enjoyed it as well, as it took them back to childhood games at the local outdoor rink or on a frozen lake. It was also the highest attendance ever for an NHL match; the football stadium they played in was packed with more then 71,000 enthusiastic fans, few of whom could see the action very well.

The ice itself was a problem, though. The rink was constructed over plywood laid out over the grass of the stadium field, and there were bad areas that required repeated attention. In general the ice was soft and the pace of the game relatively slow (for hockey). Note to the NHL: Take a cue from the Czechs. Ice babes. Several Czech teams have attractive women whose job it is to rush out onto the ice to repair problem spots. All we got in this game was a batch of guys in parkas. Judging by the results, the ice babes may be more skilled as well. Perhaps an enterprising individual can start an ice babe agency over here, and bring some of the czechs over here as instructors. It’s a win-win!

Still, it was fun to watch the game being set free from the confines of buildings constructed to hold at bay the very elements that created hockey in the first place. The game ended in a shootout, which I dislike in principle but grudgingly admit is pretty exciting. The Penguins won, and I imagined that somewhere Rose was smiling.

4 thoughts on “Hockey in the Snow

  1. A couple of years ago, the Scorpions had an exhibition game in Los Alamos.

    The players thought it was a blast — nearly all of them remembered childhoods playing hockey on outdoor surfaces, and they had no idea that there was outdoor hockey in New Mexico.

    According to research I did when I worked at the Monitor, the Zamboni was invented in Los Alamos … the second Zamboni ever built, and the oldest one still in existence, is supposed to be in somebody’s collection thre.

  2. Being somewhat the hockey afficianado, I too delved into the lore of the Zamboni (a registered trademark) ice resurfacing machine. I found that horror of horrors, the Zamboni was invented in LA.

    (from wikipedia) – Frank Joseph Zamboni, Jr. (January 16, 1901 – July 27, 1988) was a U.S. inventor whose most famous invention is the modern ice resurfacer.

    He was born in Eureka, Utah to Italian immigrants. His parents soon bought a farm near Pocatello, Idaho, where he grew up. In 1920, he moved with his parents to the harbor district of Los Angeles, where his older brother George was operating an auto repair business. After attending a trade school in Chicago, he and his younger brother Lawrence opened an electrical supply business in 1922 in the Los Angeles suburb of Hynes (now part of Paramount). The following year, he married, and eventually had three children. In 1927, he and Lawrence added an ice-making plant and entered the block ice business. They sold their block ice business in 1939, seeing little future in that business with the recent advent of electrically operated refrigeration units. However, they kept their refrigeration equipment because they planned to open an ice rink nearby.

    In 1940, the brothers, along with a cousin, opened the Iceland rink, which proved very popular, in no small part because Frank had devised a way to eliminate rippling caused by the pipes that were laid down to keep the rink frozen. (The rink still operates, and is still owned by the Zamboni family.) He obtained a patent for that innovation in 1946. Then, in 1948, he invented a machine that transformed the job of resurfacing an ice rink from a three-man, 90-minute task to a one-man, 10-minute job. In 1949, he applied for a patent, and set up Frank J. Zamboni & Co. in Paramount to build and sell the machines. He obtained his patent in 1953. In the early-1950’s he built them on top of Jeep CJ-3B’s, then on stripped Jeep chassis from 1956 through 1964.[1] Demand for the machine proved great enough that his company added a second plant in Brantford, Ontario and a branch office in Switzerland. Though the term Zamboni was (and remains) trademarked by his company, the name is now commonly used for any brand of ice resurfacing machine.

    /I would be interested to hear of CA’s research

  3. PS. I too saw the al fresco game and while it was certainly interesting, The distance of the field to the stands would have kept me in the bar. That and the fans were unable to pound on the glass. I however forgive these slight annoyances in the spirit of “old time hockey.”

    Anyone here ever see “Slapshot?”

  4. The archives in the attic of Fuller Lodge have historic photos, including one of a Jeep-based Zamboni that, according to the documentation accompanying the photo, was the second Zamboni ever built. It’s rather primitive. The background of the photo is a steep canyon wall, consistent with Los Alamos’ ice rink.

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