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Bird Arena staff and referees attempt to repair a piece of broken foam near Calvin's bench on Saturday

Hockey: A deep dive into how players, coaches and Bird Arena staff creatively solved a tricky rink malfunction

Bird Arena staff members scrambled to the ice during the first intermission on Saturday evening’s game against Calvin.

A piece of padding had fallen off the visitor's bench, and they had less than nine minutes before the second period began. If they couldn’t get it fixed, the game would be delayed.

During the break, Calvin's coach Mike Petrusma informed a staff member working one of the doors to the ice that his team was not going to play until the padding on the left side of the bench was fixed. 

The initial solution to the problem was quite the cliche: Where's the duct tape?

"I feel like if the rink was properly equipped and we had, you know, a roll of duct tape around, we could probably just figure out something," said Kaden Ferguson, Bird Arena's supervisor and maintenance specialist.

After Ferguson and the staff realized that duct tape was not an option, they had to race to find a solution before the period began. The maintenance staff used every type of solution they could think of, and tape was the most popular option. The staff tried double-sided tape and hockey tape.

"At first I was thinking that double-sided tape could probably do it because I've seen everything hung up with it,“ Ferguson said. “But just the fact that (the pad) was a weird nylon material, it just didn't work very well.”

With each failed attempt, the clock continued to tick down. The players came back on the ice, but it became clear that the issue was going to delay the start of the second period.

Once the repairs spilled over into game time, another issue popped up. Now, the teams had to find a way to keep focused on the game at hand. To do so, players from both sides stretched and skated around the ice.

"You see guys skating around just trying to keep your head in the game," junior goalie Mason Koster said. "Maybe talk to people, get a little loose don't tense too much about it."

The coaches had more than one tough task during the delay. Not only did Ohio's coaches have to make sure the players were staying focused, but they helped come up with a solution to the problem at hand.

They eventually came up with an unlikely solution. Instead of using tape to hold the pad up, they used skate laces tied together. The officials put the skate laces through holes that were poked in the padding and tied the laces around the glass to hold it up. 

"Someone else came up with the idea of going through the seem in the glass to wrap it around," coach Cole Bell said. "Emily Salatin had a few pairs of skate laces with her. So we ran one of those over, and it ended up working out good enough, I guess."

Once the skate laces were delivered to the officials at the opposing bench, it didn't take long before they had the pad in place and play could resume. Even though the game continued, the padding wasn't the most secure.

"It got back up, but it wasn't the prettiest thing," Ferguson said. "Definitely wasn't the most safe thing either. The top was still hanging off. If someone hit it with the puck, it probably would have fallen off."

The whole fiasco lasted around 25 minutes. As a result, of the repairs taking so long, the beginning of the second period was delayed by 17 minutes.

Both Bell and Ferguson have seen games delayed longer than this. Those delays, however, were due to issues with the ice or the glass breaking. Both agreed this should have taken less time.

"We are going to make a comment on record that, that this should have taken five minutes and no more," Bell said. "We should have been able to figure that one out pretty quick."

"Yeah, it definitely should have been shorter," Ferguson agreed. "I mean, for what we had on staff and what we had to work with, I feel like it's a little embarrassing, but we also made it work eventually."


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