Rink staff used two rolls of duct tape to save the ice from melting in advance of the Canada Russia hockey game.
One of the refrigeration pipes burst between second and third periods of the high school Mariners’ home opener Sunday afternoon, Oct. 28 in Digby.
Danny Harvieux, facility supervisor, was flooding the ice with the Zamboni when employee Justin Wood came to tell him the pump was making an awful racket and the compressors weren’t running.
The compressors are set up so they usually turn on when the Zamboni goes on the ice.
Harvieux checked the big barrels at the back of the rink that holds the brine for the refrigeration—it was empty.
“I knew then it was a major leak,” he says.
They lifted up the wooden floorboards to find a 6 ½” pipe broken right in two.
“The brine was gushing out,” says Harvieux.
He called the refrigeration company in Halifax and they told him: “Danny, you know you’re going to lose your ice.”
The Digby rink is scheduled to host a World Junior A exhibition game between Russia and Canada East this Sunday, Nov. 3.
Harvieux and the organizing committee have spent the last year planning and preparing for the game—not to mention they sold out all 1200 tickets.
Harvieux says his only thought was “I can’t lose my ice, I can’t lose my ice.”
The refrigeration company put three men on the road right away with 183 bags of calcium chloride—the salt they would need to charge the system again.
Meanwhile Harvieux was looking for a way to stop the leak.
“I was thinking of a big metal clamp that would hold it for now and I was thinking who would have one.”
He called town public works employee Kevin Mackin who suggested putting duct tape on the leak for now.
They put two rolls of it around the leak and waited for the refrigeration guys to arrive.
Mackin also had a clamp rated for 100 pounds pressure that the town uses for water leaks.
Harvieux says the rink’s refrigeration plant operates at 35- 40 pounds.
When the refrigeration guys arrived they agreed the clamp should work. They had to cut off about 6 inches of the clamp so it could fit between other pipes.
Volunteers from the high school hockey team meanwhile had unloaded the salt.
When the calcium chloride first mixes with water it creates heat—raising the temperature to about 90°C.
When they first began to charge the system, the heat was making puddles on the ice surface but then they started adding the salt very slowly to the system.
Harvieux said Wednesday, Oct. 31 they would need another week to get the system fully charged.
Harvieux is grateful for everyone’s help. He says he even had a team ready to make new ice if it had been necessary.
“I’ll tell you if it wasn’t for Kevin there wouldn’t be any ice in Digby right now,” says Harvieux. “He stayed with us the whole time, and so did Justin and Ken.
“It sounds corny but this just shows you one of the things I love about Digby,” says Harvieux. “I made two or three calls and I had all kinds of help here—people here pull together when they have to.”
Harvieux says this is the first time in his 13 years at the rink they have had a pipe break and he isn’t sure what caused it—he says the building might have moved just enough to crack it, and sometimes frost builds up on the pipe and that could have moved it as well.
“It was the worst feeling in the world,” says Harvieux. “I was scared to death. I came to work for 8:30 a.m. Sunday and never went home until Monday at 3:30 p.m. and I didn’t fall asleep until 8:30 that night.”
He says they are confident the clamp will hold for the season and they will fix the leak permanently next spring.
They are also installing metal grates over the pipes so it is easier to keep an eye on any frost forming on the pipes.