For the first time in nine months, there is a sheet of ice at Nassau Coliseum.
Arena employees began setting the playing surface shortly after a tentative agreement was made by the NHL and NHLPA in regards to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. By Monday morning, lines and logos covered the surface, with the Islanders orange and blue logo glimmering from the center faceoff circle.
“I am extremely excited to have hockey back, not only for the people who work here but for the surrounding vendors as well,” SMG Assistant General Manager Melvin McGregor said. “It brings a needed element of excitement here that was lacking for the last couple of months. So we are excited to have hockey back.”
While the new NHL season is expected to begin soon, Disney on Ice will be in the building first, with performances from Jan. 10-13. SMG, the arena’s management company, handles the construction of the skating surface. They will build the rink to be suitable for Islanders games, then paint it completely white for the Disney show. Once the three-day show is over, the Zamboni hits the rink, shaves the ice down and prepares it for hockey.
In the meantime, the process for creating a quality sheet of ice is one that the folks at SMG have down pat. The crew places a base layer of water inside the rink and allows it to freeze, then they seal a layer of white paint over the base. After that, the lines and logos are painted on and sealed with a fine mist. A final layer of water covers the paint and freezes over. At the end of the process, the ice stands a sturdy three-quarters of an inch to one inch thick.
“The quickest we can put a sheet of ice down is 24 hours, but normally it takes about three days to get good, quality ice,” McGregor said. “The less water you put down and allow to freeze at one time, the better quality of ice you have. You never want to flood it and then let it freeze because it’ll take a long time. You want it to snap-freeze.”
Come Sunday, Jan. 14, the puck will be ready to drop on Islanders hockey.