ON THE ICE BESIDE THE CCGS AMUNDSEN – On the world’s largest outdoor ice surface – the entire Arctic Ocean - the scientists and crew of the Amundsen icebreaker put on the world’s cleanest hockey game this afternoon.
It must have been clean because there were no penalties during the two-and-half hours of spirited play. No referee nor linesmen either. Or blue lines or a centre line.
Yet there was a good-sized playing surface after the Amundsen’s plows had shoved snow off smooth ice that’s at least a metre and a half thick. As well there were creases and nets (wood frames with poly plastic) and a frozen orange ball that stung like blazes if you were hit.
Right beside the marathon hockey tournament, a smaller but equally energetic group mounted a virtuoso soccer display. An utterly unscientific survey suggested that the Europeans aboard the ship gravitated to the soccer while the Canadians preferred hockey.
But there was no curling, Canada’s national winter sport (pace lacrosse). This omission was especially unfortunate since in far-off Vernon, B.C. Canada’s Jennifer Jones was at the same time clinching the women’s world curling championship. Of course everyone knows that the Canadian rink is also favoured in the men’s world championships next month.
Well, maybe not everyone. There were quite a few quizzical expressions among the scientists when a former Ontario schoolboy curling champion (long since retired from competitive curling) proposed adding a sheet of curling ice to the snow-clearing chores.
The rocks? Fill some large discarded tin cans with water and insert a wooden handle as they freeze. Coloured circles for the house? There’s red hydraulic fluid and something called alcian blue that stains the lab glassware. Brooms? Plenty of those aboard, and not those new-fangled push ones either.
Adding pebbles to the ice surface would be a cinch. Even in today’s relatively balmy minus 22 C water drops would have frozen in minutes.
About the only serious problem is the lack of a sponsor. Hurry hard, Tim Hortons.