by Audie Murphy

Any true Comets fan can recognize the sound of skates stopping on the Adirondack Bank Center ice from a mile away. Instantly, he or she can see the explosion of snow rising through the air as steel blades cut into a rink that is as white as a Central New York winter. But what many do not consider is just how this ice was created.

Enter Rick Redmond, the Adirondack Bank Center’s general manager. For the past four years, Rick and his “second to none staff” have been responsible for the creation of the Adirondack Bank Center ice, working meticulously to ensure that the ideal playing surface is constructed for all of the building’s teams.

Before Rick and his team can begin constructing the actual ice layer, the arena staff must first ensure that the dasher boards and the glass are properly installed. Then, a deep cleaning of the concrete floor that the ice sits on occurs to ensure sure that it is free of dirt, oils or any sediments that may prevent the water from freezing. Once this step is complete, the staff will turn on a chiller system to lower the temperature of the concrete floor to approximately 15 degrees in order to prevent the ice from melting once it is built.

After these steps are completed, the staff can finally start building the ice. This is done by using a copper wand (or mister) attached to a hose and misting the floor to create a very thin sheet of frozen water. After repeating this process six to eight times in a four-hour span, one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch of ice is built up.

The ice is then given its characteristic white glow by using the mister to spread three coats of liquid white paint over the existing ice sheet. Afterwards, another three to five coats of water is added with the mister to seal the paint in, raising the ice thickness to three-sixteenths of an inch.

This thin sheet of ice comes closer to resembling an actual hockey rink when Rick and his staff measure the circles, lines, dash and tick marks, and paint the ice with the appropriate color for each feature. Another three to five coats of water misted over the paint allows the ice sheet to approach about a quarter of an inch of thickness.

The sheet is then transformed into ice that is uniquely Utica’s when the arena staff lays down the logos (including the Comet’s center ice logo) and places them to ensure that they are straight and aligned properly. Once the logos are perfect, they are then sealed in place with another 15 to 20 coats of water added with the mister, bringing the ice to approximately five-eighths to three-quarters of an inch of thickness.

Once the ice reaches this size, the staff is then able to switch over to a garden hose to add water instead of the mister for three and a half days to make the ice thick enough to support a Zamboni. The Zamboni is then brought onto the ice to lay additional water to get to the ice thickness between an inch and an inch and a quarter, making the ice ready for hockey!

The arena staff’s construction of the ice sheet is even more incredible considering that 10,000 gallons of water, two gallons of red ice paint, two gallons of blue ice paint and 225 pounds of white ice paint are required to create the Aud’s frozen masterpiece. So when you come to the Aud this season and hear the sound of skates stopping, know that it is the sound of steel blades cutting into a masterful work of art