There will likely be no need for Plan B during the RBC Cup tournament in Lloydminster, but it’s nice to know there is one for contingencies.
Plan B is for the what ifs of the national junior A championship, covering everything from what if the Zamboni breaks down to what if there’s a big hole in the netting.
“We have a back up Zamboni on site as well as our refrigerator contractor of 28 years,” said Heather Dow, the city’s arena manager and facilities chair on the organizing committee.
She is no nervous Nellie with plans in hand.
“I lose sleep over all the things we have to do, but I am also always very confident it always comes together because I know the crew we have and the committee is fantastic,” Dow Said.
“Lloydminster is famous for putting on national events and we always seem to make it happen.”
She noted the refrigeration contractor has volunteered to be onsite throughout every game and will be there all week at no cost to the city.
“We’ve been upgrading for the last two years – the ice plant – so the capital has been in place for two years, so I feel confident going forward we have a great contingency plan,” said Dow.
She said arena staff are also old hats at stringing nets that come with a new set of bare posts.
“So we have a new set of nets sitting in the back waiting to go,” said Dow.
“Everything will be crisp, white and bright and up to snuff at that national level.”
Dow and her committee have ran through all sorts of potentially problematic issues.
Foremost is ensuring there is adequate staffing at the Centennial Civic Centre where all 13 tournament games will be played to sellout crowds.
With most of the other rinks in town shut down in May, Dow can pull in extra staff for the tournament just like they did when the city hosted the Allan Cup a few years ago.
“During the winter they cross train so they are already in that facility,” said Dow, who notes it’s still a hockey game that her staff are familiar with.
“There’s going to be a lot of cleaning and a lot of turnaround time in between,” she said.
Dow said her crew will get some help from the city’s parks staff with the parking lot and cleaning up garbage where needed.
“But other than that it’s mainly arena staff in place for all three arenas to come forward and help with that process,” she said.
Dow is hoping the rink maintenance crew never has to crank up the backup Zamboni in the event of a mechanical failure given the intensive inspection program the machines are put through.
The machines are sent to Zamboni in Edmonton every year for end to end servicing.
“They’ll go through emissions, the conditioner, the snar dump augers, the bearings, belts, radiator – you name it,” said Dow.
“We get that done every year and this year is no different.”
Some Zamboni operators are also crossed trained by Zamboni mechanics to troubleshoot issues on their own.
While most fans will be cheering for teams and players on the ice, the work that Dow’s rink crew does shines when everyone has left the building.
“We’‘ll be doing extra ice maintenance at night at peak hours and after hours we’ll be bringing out our ice edger and making sure our ice is up to snuff,” said Dow.
“When everyone goes home that’s when our ice crew will go to work – it’s very long days for our guys but they are also a very good crew and very experienced.”
Dow said the Zamboni crew has over a 100 years of experience together.
“I think as a team it will be a great tournament,” she said.
She also said it won’t be out of the ordinary if the Zamboni operator wears a tux while flooding the ice for the final game.
The championship game that could involve the host Lloydminster Bobcats will be televised by TSN.
Crews will also be helping TSN set up their cables and make room for cameras and broadcast personnel.
“Just for that final game we have seat kills to make accommodations for the camera stands and the announcer’s booth which we did for the Allan Cup – same style scaffolding platforms,” said Dow.
Dow’s role throughout the tournament is to make sure that everything is coordinated and goes as planned – ever mindful of Plan B in her back pocket so to speak.
She noted her role as arenas manager and facilities chair are basically one and the same.
“So I lay out the schedule of how things are going to happen with our staff and operations, the set up of the events, the parking lot for the tournament including the takedown,” she explained.
Arena and city staff will be identified by wearing special uniforms just like they were with the Allan Cup with the word Arena Staff on the back of their shirts.
With the puck drop rapidly approaching, Dow, like most hockey players, is experiencing those positive pre-game butterflies in her gut.
“We are ready for this,” she said.
“We’ve been sitting on this committee for over a year but we’ve been preparing since they won the award.
“So I think we are well in place and everyone is anxious to get down to the nitty gritty and make it happen.”