New York Islanders – January Dr. Rocks Blog Post

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January Dr. Rocks' Blog!

Why was the ice-smoothing Zamboni invented?

Answer: Ice with ruts can cause a player to be bounced out of balance.

The "Zamboni" was invented by Frank Zamboni in 1951. He wanted a machine to smooth the surface of ice in hockey rinks. Why? Even small chips in the ice can cause a payer to lose skating balance.

Chips in the ice hockey rink are caused by sudden stops, and turns, by players. Play causes the rink ice to become rutted, and lumpy, and led to player falls. Even small ruts in the ice, or small objects thrown on the ice, can cause serious accidents for players skating at high speeds. We experience this when an auto at high speed goes over a small rut in the road.

 The Zamboni machine scrapes the ice, and lays down a fresh surface of water that freezes into a smooth surface. Before the Zamboni men with shovels and pales of water would smooth the ice by hand. The Zamboni does this job much faster and much better.

 The puck also has more "bounce" when traveling over ice with ruts, making aiming it to a player, or the goal, difficult. True flight of the puck depends upon the ice being smooth.

 The best ice for a hockey game, known as "fast ice", is ice that is rut and snow free. For ice hickey, fast ice is ice that is not too cold, it should be about 18 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to water freezing at 32 F. The best ice for figure skating is a few degrees warmer, because at higher temperature ice is more "slippery".


Picture: Player's skate hitting a rut in ice.