What’s up Pens fans? My name is Daniel, one of the Pittsburgh Penguins Ice Crew members. This being our second year as part of the Penguins family, we decided to add this blog to give you a behind the scenes look into one of the small facets of an NHL game – the fifteen members of the Penguins Ice Crew.
While a lot of what we do looks like fun (and trust me, it is), most of what we do is the kind of manual labor that all Western Pennsylvanians are used to – shoveling snow. During an NHL ga
me, the sharp blades that propel our favorite players around the ice scrape against that very ice and the result is the snow you see fly up whenever players stop in front of the boards. That snow accumulates over a period of time, and as anyone who has ever played hockey before can tell you, that snow can greatly affect the way a game plays out. Of course, the greatest weapons against the threat of the excess snow are our two beloved Zambonis. But while the game is being played, the Ice Crew takes up the task.
Now for those of you who watch on TV wondering why you never see the Ice Crew, it’s very simple – we work during the TV timeouts. There are TV three timeouts per period and they usually happen after the 14:00, 10:00, and 6:00 minute marks of each one. As soon as those minute marks have passed and the whistle blows, we take the ice. There are seven on-ice positions that the Ice Crew executes during the TV timeouts. Once those Zamboni doors open, we quickly and precisely move about the ice like a well-oiled machine. The Ice Crew has less than two minutes during a TV timeout to effectively clean the excess snow off and get off the ice in time for the next face off.
Our practices started on August 14 and already we are all excited to get back on the ice! We practice as a team once a week at a nearby rink after the ice has been used and untouched by the Zamboni so that we can practice on the type of ice we work on during each game. Practices include a lot of speed skating drills, perfecting the seven on-ice positions and concluding with conditioning and practicing tricks to perform during intermission games. Many of us keep in shape outside of practice by playing in an adult hockey league, while other team members attend a fitness boot camp or personal gym several times a week. With five new additions to the crew this season, we have a lot of work ahead of us getting ready, but we’re all up for the challenge!
Here are some photos and footage of our practice from last Sunday:
During the season we not only work the games, but participate in a number of off-ice events as well. Last season, to name a few, the Ice Crew attended the Ronald McDonald House Charities Bike Ride, the Winter Classic Rally in Market Square, skating at the PPG rink, and Operation Troop Appreciation 5K Race in Allison Park.
We look forward to this season and for the familiar anthem as the Pens take the ice for the first time. Until next time Pens fans, make each day a great day for hockey and we’ll see you in September!
LGP = Let’s Go Pens