Yesterday’s AHL game between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Albany River Rats, which was scheduled to be played at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, was postponed due to unsafe ice conditions.
During pre-game warm-ups yesterday, Penguins players noticed dark colored spots on their side of the ice. Several players began to try to touch up the patches with their sticks or skates to no avail. They then called over members of the training staff, who alerted arena management. With about six minutes to go in warm-ups, Penguins and Devils players were asked to leave the ice.
Members of the ice crew tried covering the patches, and two Zambonis went around the ice several times. Another area of ice became flooded, and despite the Zamboni continuing to circle, the flooded spot did not dry up. Arena staff also dimmed the lights, hoping that the lack of light would dry the ice.
The problems were believed to be the result of an ice skating show that was held at Boardwalk Hall the night before. Ice conditions for figure skating and ice hockey vary greatly.
Eric Tangradi of the Penguins confirmed this with Penguins beat writer Jonathan Bombulie.
Tangradi told Bombulie that when the players came on to the ice, they had trouble starting off on their skates and noticed they were stepping on concrete. He also said the ice was only an inch thick.
It was speculated that the ice crew did not shave down the ice enough after Saturday’s figure skating performance the night before.
The fans in attendance at the game were given an update by the public address announcer, who alerted fans that there was a problem with the ice and the ice crew was working to fix it. He said that as soon as there was an update, the crowd would be notified.
The fans, who were already well aware of a problem, booed the announcement.
After the Zambonis circled the ice again, coaches and training staff from both teams came out to inspect the ice. They were met by other arena personnel. The Penguins and Devils general managers were contacted by phone, as was the league office in Springfield, MA.
Tom Grace, the Penguins radio announcer, was taken on and off the air to provide updates on the situation to Penguins fans tuning in on the radio and Internet. Although he said a decision would be made at 5 p.m., fans were left waiting even longer without any further updates from the public address announcer.
At about 5:15 p.m., 75 minutes after the game’s scheduled start time, training staff came out to take away pucks, water bottles and extra sticks. The fans began to figure that the game would be postponed, but still, no official announcement was made.
Eventually, when 5:30 p.m. rolled around, the Boardwalk Hall announcer came back on the intercom. He announced that the game would be postponed to a later date, and fans could redeem their tickets for a refund or a voucher to a future Albany Devils game. The arena was then darkened, and fans began exiting.
Today, the AHL announced that the game will be made up on Monday, February 7 at 7 p.m. at Boardwalk Hall. All tickets from yesterday’s game will be honored, and any fan unable to attend the make-up game will receive refunds.