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Despite winter weather, outdoor ice remains elusive

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MASSENA - Temperatures have dropped into the below zero range this week, but that hasn’t been enough to sustain outdoor ice in Massena.

Massena Recreation Superintendent Richard A. Boprey said they’ll need more freezing days before they’re able to lay a solid sheet of ice at the rinks on Bridges Avenue and Howard Street and at Alcoa Field and the Massena Arena annex.

“It hasn’t been cold enough to produce high-quality ice rinks. We’ve had a small period of cold, cold weather, but it hasn’t been enough. With the wind blowing and a lot of the snow, it’s been more of a deterrent,” Mr. Boprey said Friday, a day after his crews began flooding the outdoor rinks.

“This happens every year, as soon as it gets cold for a day or as soon as it snows once,” he added.

On Friday there was a thin sheet of ice at the Massena Arena annex, and the Bridges Avenue and Howard Street sites, while plowed, weren’t ready for skaters.

“We won’t be flooding tonight unless things change. Right now it’s really windy and the snow is blowing around,” he said.

The problem, according to Mr. Boprey, is that the ground is still too soft for them to use a village water tanker to flood the rinks.

“We’re a long time with an extended autumn season. We’ve had one little hit of cold weather. We just need cold, freezing days that we haven’t really had,” he said.

Fresh snow doesn’t help. Instead it keeps the ground soft and prevents the truck from being able to flood the area.

Once recreation department employees are able to start a rink, it’s a continual process, according to Mr. Boprey.

“We do it every night. We do it in the wee hours of the morning. If there’s any speck of sun out that’s not good and it won’t freeze as well,” he said.

Once they get a base, it’s a matter of maintaining it during the cold weather.

Outdoor ice will become more important as Jan. 18 and 19 roll around. That’s when the Massena Arena annex will be the site for the annual Massena Cup outdoor hockey tournament.

With 20 teams participating in the tournament held last January, rain turned the outdoor rink into slush and the decision was made to bring the games inside.

This year organizers have already made arrangements over the summer for indoor ice inside the arena if it comes to that.

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