Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ forward Ethan Jones is sprung on a breakaway during the second period of exhibition action at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Aug. 22. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Strathcona Gardens shuffles ice time to accommodate BCHL game ousted by ammonia leak at Port Alberni rink

Campbell River’s Rod Brind’Amour Arena will host a British Columbia Hockey League Alberni Valley Bulldogs vs. Trail Smoke Eaters game this Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been displaced from their arena due to a low-level ammonia leak that was discovered at the facility’s ice rink Sunday, Nov. 3. All programs and activities at the Alberni Valley Multiplex have been cancelled due to the unforeseen mechanical issue that lost the ice surface. This British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) team was scheduled to host the Trail Smoke Eaters who are currently doing the circuit tour on Vancouver Island.

Due to the hosting of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs game in the Rod Brind’Amour Arena, the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) has cancelled this Sunday’s afternoon public skate and pond hockey on Arena #2 from 3-5:30 p.m. to offer ice availability to the Campbell River Minor Hockey Association (CRMHA). Strathcona Gardens staff are in communication with the CRMHA to reschedule ice time accordingly. The leisure ice surface, however, will remain open for drop-in skating only from 3-5:30 p.m. (pond hockey cancelled).

“By opening up ice availability on Arena 2, our hope is that it allows our local minor hockey scheduled games to be reshuffled in terms of times and not displaced all together,” Strathcona Gardens Facility Manager Koreen Gurak says in a press release. “We fully understand the inconvenience to this schedule change, however, all efforts and ability to support the hockey community on Vancouver Island is truly appreciated.”

Bulldogs’ president David Michaud explained in a press release that due to Trail’s schedule, it would not be possible for them to return to Port Aberni later in the season.

“With no ice in the Multiplex, we were forced to balance our wants of playing in front of our fans and being good BCHL partners,” said Michaud. “We’re extremely disappointed to be in this position.”

Bulldogs season ticket holders and fans holding a game ticket for Sunday will have until 2 p.m. Friday to pick up complimentary vouchers for the game in Campbell River. After that, the seats will be made available to the Campbell River public. There has been no word on how that will be handled. Visit campbellrivermirror.com for more on this.

The unfortunate situation that occurred in Port Alberni highlights the elevated awareness around ammonia refrigeration plants operating in B.C. arenas, a SRD press release says. As of Sept. 21 2019, Strathcona Gardens became ammonia-free by switching to a carbon dioxide refrigeration system with the support of federal gas tax funding.

With today’s concern for the environment, energy efficiency and safety, CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) is now recognized as a much superior option over other synthetic refrigerants for these purposes. CO2 is a natural, non-toxic, non-flammable with no-net greenhouse effect.

The switch out from an ammonia-based refrigeration system to a CO2 has made the Strathcona Gardens Recreation Complex the first facility in the province to make this conversion.

– With files from Elena Rardon, Alberni Valley News