A snazzy new protective barrier has been installed at Queenstown’s indoor ice rink.
The Queenstown Ice Arena owners have erected a $200,000-plus dasher board and glass shielding barrier around the ice surface, ready for the rink’s reopening on April 15.
It replaces the wooden dasher boards and netting which had been in place since the rink was built 20 years ago.
The 164 metre-long, 2.85m-high barrier, erected specifically for ice hockey, greatly improves the safety of spectators and players.
“It’s a very durable system,” co-owner Ted Graham says.
The 15 millimetre-thick glass can withstand massive blows, he says - ice hockey pucks are fired at about 160kmh.
“Visually, it’s a marked improvement on the netting,” Graham’s brother, co-owner Dan Graham, says.
The higher glass also helps maintain a better ice surface by providing a cold air well.
The barrier includes four doors onto the ice and six players’ gates including two penalty boxes.
Canadian-born Dan says he and Ted were adamant about installing a new dasher board system after their family bought the rink in 2010.
Ted: “Basically, you’re not a real rink in Canada till you have this.”
Other improvements, however, had to be made first.
“First, we had to seal the building, and the next step was a dehumidifier to keep the moisture levels down.
“We couldn’t put this glass shielding in until all that was done, because the glass would just fog over and nobody would be able to watch the games.”
Dan adds: “Every year we’ve made improvements but this may be one of the first ones that people really notice.
“It’s also our single biggest investment since we bought it.”
It’s also appropriate timing - this year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the original Gardens outdoor ice rink.
The Queenstown Ice Hockey Club is holding its 2016 registration day at the ice rink this coming Tuesday from 4.30 till 6.30pm.