“How’s that working out for you?”
“Not great,” the photographer said, admitting defeat and placing the lens cap back on.
Twenty-eight degrees. Eighty-three per cent humidity outdoors. Eighty indoors.
In these conditions, the ice surface bleeds fog into the sticky air.
And so on Saturday night, in a game where the story was supposed to be Ben Higgins’ hometown debut with the Halifax Mooseheads, the story instead is a game stopped 12 minutes into the first period.
“Great ice down there, and that’s part of the problem,” said Rath Eastlink Community Centre manager Matt Moore, looking out over the fog as the crowd thinned out.
It was an uphill battle from the start. Faced with a weeklong heat wave and humidity terrorizing the facility, the ice crew worked to keep the game a go for Saturday night. Unfortunately, a cold slab of ice in the midst of a humid space tends to emanate fog.
At game time, the panes of glass all around the rink were covered in thick fog. The lower seats remained empty as people moved to the walking track for a better vantage point. At ice level, there were no good vantage points, however. It was a struggle for players to see past their own blue line.
“If I was standing in my own end, I couldn’t see anything in their end,” Higgins said after the game. “It was pretty bad out there.”
Three times, the referees called a stop to the game, emptied the benches and had the players skate around their own end to alleviate the fog. It was to no avail, however. After the Charlottetown Islanders scored to make it 2-2, the officials gathered between the benches and decided to delay the game. Contact was made with Quebec Major Junior League officials while the rink staff flooded the ice. The league made the call. The game was over.
“It’s a league decision and it came down to player safety,” Moore said. “I think the players want to be on the ice, themselves, but you don’t want to risk anything at that level of hockey.”
The staff did everything they could do, said John Kelderman, chair of the board of directors for the RECC.
“With the crowds coming in and the doors being opened, you’re letting in all that outside air. There’s 85 per cent humidity and it can’t be controlled. There’s nothing we could do. Even if we had additional fans, we’d just be moving humid air around.”
While much of the crowd was understanding of the safety issue and left the arena with a mere shrug of the shoulders, others were not so diplomatic. One fan wearing a Mooseheads hat stood up and threw a towel on the ice, letting out a loud “Boo” as the arena announcer brought an end to the delay.
The game, in its third year running, is a major fundraiser for the Truro Minor Hockey Association. If fans would like a refund on their ticket, they can do so at the RECC front desk on Monday.
“It’s just too bad minor hockey had to be on the receiving end of this bad luck,” Kelderman said. “But the crew here has spent hours and hours and hours working their hardest, and I can attest to that. We have done everything we could have done.”
Kelderman and Moore said plans are already in the works for a follow up minor hockey fundraiser.