Keeping the ice nice: LECOM Harborcenter prepares for upcoming hockey tournaments

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- The ice rinks at the LECOM Harborcenter see a lot of traffic. From NHL pro’s to pee-wee skaters, nearly 4,500 athletes hit the ice in 2019 alone.

“We have the Junior Sabres, we have Canisius, between both rinks we’re busy with about 12 or 13 groups a night,” said ice technician manager John Zlotek.

With all that action, the ice sees its fair share of scrapes and scratches.

” When we get the larger college kids and the pros in here, they make a mess. They get into it they dig into it. A lot of people think the ice stops at an inch but it’s actually about an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half,” Zlotek said.

Olympia ice resurfacers are used to smooth out any dings, using laser-guided technology to get the ice to the perfect height.

“We have a laser system that balances the ice sheet out as we’re driving. The back of the sled has a horizontal lager and a vertical lager. The horizontal one brings everything to the middle, shoots it into the vertical lager and throws everything into the snow tank,” Zlotek said.

The machines make fast work of the rinks, resurfacing the ice within minutes.

“If we use two machines, which we use for our college games and certain tournaments, it takes about four and a half to five minutes for a resurface and seven and a half to nine with one machine.”

With big events on the horizon scheduled like the Atlantic Hockey Tournament in March and the NHL Scouting Combine in May, Zlotek says they work as quickly as possible to ensure a smooth skate.

“We keep everything moving and try to keep the trains on time as best as we can.”

For information on upcoming tournaments and public skates, click here.

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