The Specialist: Ice Guy

May 3, 2018

Our specialist this week is Richard Rocha, Director of Operations for the San Jose Sharks’ practice rink — otherwise know as the “ice guy” for the Bay Area’s only professional hockey team.

I first heard about ice guys from my friend Eric Simons, a journalist and avid player of Monday Night Hockey, an amateur hockey night which has taken place at the Dublin Iceland hockey rink in the East Bay city of Dublin every Monday night since 1974.

Eric told me that there’s nothing worse than bad ice. Another hockey player compared good ice approvingly to “a baby’s ass” — smooth and unblemished.

 

The world of ice rinks is a world of agony and ecstasy. There are good ice rinks and bad rinks. There is complaining and complimenting and critiquing. I had no idea.

It’s Richard Rocha’s job to have an idea.

In this episode, you’ll hear about the worst things that can happen on the ice (“Someone lays on the ice, and this has happened, your clothes will freeze to the ice and you’ve got to be peeled off”).

 

You’ll realize that there are many other people who also think in great deal about ice (trade publication RINK magazine comes out bimonthly).

 

You’ll meet original ice specialist Frank Zamboni, who invented the first ice resurfacing truck in 1949, and who also solved other extremely specific problems, such as the problem of how to lift and carry cement burial vaults (“Vault Carrier”).

 

You’ll find out the secret ingredient for perfect ice (“hot water”). And you’ll hear the sound of hockey players waiting for ice to dry.

 

This episode first aired on May 14, 2015.