Upland getting ice ready for 2012-13 skating season

The Ice Rink at Upland Country Day School is just about ready to open, with the first skaters expected on the surface on Sept. 29.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — The ice rink at Upland Country Day School opens this weekend and crews have been working round the clock to lay and freeze the ice for opening day. Upland students and teams share the rink with the Chester County Skating Club for hockey and figure skating from Sept. 29 through mid-March.

Making an ice rink isn’t as simple as flooding the floor with gallons of water, according to Bill Dreisbach, rink manager. Freezing the rink requires between 10,000 to 12,000 gallons of water applied and frozen in more than a dozen layers or stages. Some of stages require laying ice as thin as 1/16 of an inch.

Dreisbach and his crew of ten started preparing the rink for the ice last week by cooling the approximately five miles of steel pipe winding through the concrete beneath the rink to a chilly 19 degrees. Once the concrete was cold enough, the crew sprayed a fine mist of water to create the first three layers, each only  inch thick. Each layer has to freeze for at least an hour before the next one goes down.

The crew then mixed 100-gallon drums of white paint to spray on the next three layers. (The white surface of the ice allows for a strong contrast between the black hockey puck and the ice during games). After a couple more paper-thin layers of ice, they hand paint or apply the hockey markings, the Upland logo, the lines, face-off spots and circles.

Workers at Upland Country Day School hand spray water on the ice surface to create thin layers of ice on the school’s Ice Rink.

The crew has to apply the water carefully and slowly in order to ensure ideal thickness, Dreisbach said. Once the markings and logo dry, they gradually apply between 500 and 600 gallons of water an hour each for the final three sealing layers and smooth the whole thing with a Zamboni.

When it’s all said and done, after almost a week of round the clock monitoring and preparations, the 200 x 85 foot rink has a thick solid ice surface ready play. The rink at Upland Country Day has gone through the same process every season since it opened in the 1970s to prepare for ice hockey and skating season.  During a typical season, between students and teams from Upland Country Day and the Chester County Skating Club, more than 200 hockey games take place on the rink, including the 39th Annual Upland Boys’ Invitational Ice Hockey Tournament this January.  Upland’s tournament is the longest running middle school ice hockey in the country.

Go to www.uplandcds.org  for more information.

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