Prince Rupert winter sports teams were practicing on ice at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre on Wednesday, Oct. 3 after a quick fix to the broken ice chiller has proven to be a success.
The city’s recreation department discovered an issue with the chiller in July while preparing for the arena start-up, which is typically in the second or third week of August.
The chiller was over 20 years old and experienced a mechanical failure. Ice chillers have brine that goes through pipes, and those pipes are surrounded by ammonia. Some of the pipes had rusted out and were allowing ammonia to seep into the brine.
Repairs on the chiller began a couple weeks ago, and after considerable testing and re-testing the patch job worked out. The chiller will be regularly tested for ammonia-in-brine levels, as there is a chance the patch won’t hold.
“It’s still, essentially, a broken chiller and it is going to be replaced,” said Rudy Kelly, Director of Recreation and Community Services.
“This patch job may only last a few weeks or it could survive the season – we don’t know. Current indicators are positive though and we may be able to hold off on replacing the unit until the spring.”
Terry Armstrong from Ocean Fish suggested a solution for the broken machine, with contractor Kevin Brown from Coastal Refrigeration performing the repair. Brown plugged the leaking pipes and the chiller is currently operating on fewer pipes.
The Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association and City of Prince Rupert are currently working out the bill, and in the mean time local winter sports groups are happy to be back on the ice.
“The Prince Rupert Minor Hockey executive and the players are very excited to have the ice up and running,” Pam Meers, public relations for minor hockey, said mentioning that the team is still accepting new registrations for the 2012/2013 season.
Sheri Pringle, head coach of the Prince Rupert Skating Club, is equally as thrilled about the repair.
“It’s fabulous to have ice back. The fact that people have come through and got it together is great,” Pringle said, adding the repair came right in time as three skaters, Mikayla Rose, Mickaela Ward and Cassidy Campbell, are scheduled to travel to Prince George to attend a high-performance seminar on the weekend.
“Even to have two days on the ice before they go is absolutely amazing,” Pringle said.
And Prince Rupert’s Central Interior Hockey League team the Rampage is also thankful they had a couple of days to practice before their first game of the season on Oct. 6.
Ron German, president of the Prince Rupert Rampage, said that it’s great that the team can practice on-ice again.
The Rampage will have their first practice in Prince Rupert on Thursday, Oct. 4, right before their first game of the season against the Kitimat Ice Demons.
The new chiller is expected to arrive on Oct. 26, and will cost approximately $120,000 before taxes. Kelly says that as long as testing remains positive the city may wait until the end of the season to install the new chiller, unless the old one breaks down again.