The Carolina Hurricanes’ game against the Detroit Red Wings was postponed Monday because of an issue with a PNC Arena cooling system that was repaired for leaks a few months ago.
According to Centennial Authority documents, ice-plant repairs were made for refrigerant leaks on the CIMCO cooling system and three compressors in late August and early September. A total of 1,250 pounds of R-22 refrigerant – at a cost of more than $34,000 – was added to the CIMCO system.
The system was first tested for leaks in July, then the repairs were made. The total cost of testing and repairs was $81,145, according to the documents.
Hurricanes president Don Waddell said Monday night that a broken seal on a compressor that operates the main ice chiller resulted in freon “shooting out” from the system. The loss of freon caused the temperature of the ice at PNC Arena to rise, making the ice unplayable.
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Waddell said Tuesday that the problem was not related to any of the previous repairs, calling it “completely new, a freak thing that has never happened before.”
Authority executive director Jeff Merritt said Tuesday that Johnson Controls handled the repairs a few months ago and were at the arena Tuesday inspecting the damaged part of the system.
Waddell said there are a few options for rescheduling the game, although not naming the proposed dates. Both the Canes and Red Wings are in a scheduling crunch because of the NHL’s condensed schedule this season that allows for the NHL All-Star weekend, four off days per month, plus a “bye week” – five off days in either January or February.
N.C. State plays its men’s basketball games at PNC Arena and the venue hosts other entertainment events.
The Centennial Authority, an appointed body, is the landlord of PNC Arena. Gale Force Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Hurricanes, handles the day-to-day operations of the arena.
Merritt said authority members quickly contacted him Monday night to be updated on the situation.
“It’s very concerning,” Merritt said. “The question now is what do we do next? There will be due diligence to see what happened. We will diagnose it and then put a priority on making sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We’ve got to get it fixed. This is the area’s arena. This can’t happen again.”
The CIMCO system is common among NHL teams. According to the company’s website, 18 of the NHL teams have the cooling systems in their rinks. It said the NHL has designated CIMCO as the preferred supplier of refrigeration equipment for ice skating facilities.
Merritt praised the work of those with the Hurricanes and the arena staffers who sought to get the system operational again and lower the ice temperature enough so that the game could be played.
“It was a race against time and we just ran out of time,” Merritt said.
The ice was eventually made ready Monday night, but not in time to play game.
The NHL has a policy that a 22-hour window must exist between back-to-back games, and the Red Wings were scheduled to play a 7:30 p.m. road game Tuesday against Tampa Bay. With no chance of Monday’s game starting by 9:30 p.m., the decision was reached to postpone the game and look to reschedule it.
The problem was not expected to prevent the Hurricanes from playing the Boston Bruins in Raleigh on Friday.
Having an NHL game in North Carolina called off because of faulty ice conditions is not unprecedented.
A preseason exhibition game between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers scheduled for Charlotte in September 1991 was canceled. Media reports said the ice at the Charlotte Coliseum was deemed too hard to be safe for play.