Derek King affects the way every team plays at the 2007 IIHF World Women’s Championship, whether they realize it or not.
King is the senior ice maker/building attendant at the MTS Centre, the venue in which all but three World Championship games are being played, and he is in charge of keeping the ice as fresh as possible throughout the tournament. It’s not a new role for him, though, as it is also his responsibility for the hometown Manitoba Moose during the American Hockey League season.
As of Saturday night, nine games have already been played at the MTS Centre, on top of countless team practices that have taken their toll on the ice surface. But King said the ice is holding up well.
“Things have been pretty good,” King said. “The [cold] weather has held up for us, so it’s been good throughout the tournament so far. At the start, it was a bit of a challenge because the ice was fresh. This is brand new ice, so it was covered up for about a week prior to that. Once it was skated on for a couple of days, it really settled down, so it’s been good.”
King and his staff have been working tirelessly to ensure that ice conditions are prime throughout the Championship, but with so many games in so little time, there have definitely been a few added challenges along the way.
“I think it’s more just been trying to keep a consistent ice temperature in the building,” said King. “We’ve had practices throughout the mornings, so that’s sort of been a challenge with all the practices up until game time. But once we’ve gotten into game time, the ice has been pretty good.”
There have been no complaints from teams regarding the ice surface, and King intends on keeping it that way. The MTS Centre is known for its consistently smooth ice, but oddly enough fans are hoping that the ice is a little bumpy around the face off circle this year.
Rumours are swirling that Team Canada’s traditional “Lucky Loonie” is once again buried somewhere in the ice, but King is keeping his lips sealed on the topic.
“Yeah, I’ve been asked about that a few times, but I think we’ll wait until the gold medal game and just see what happens.”
The legend of the “Lucky Loonie” has grown by leaps and bounds since it was revealed that Canadian icemaker Trent Evans buried a loonie under centre ice prior to the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Both the Canadian men’s and women’s teams won gold in the tournament. The men's came 50 years to the day after their last gold medal victory, and it was a first for the women.
“[The ‘Lucky Loonie’ is] something that I think was started a few years ago, and I don’t know if it necessarily works, but I think it’s been a great tradition for all those Team Canada games.”
“Lucky Loonie” or not, King has the ice ready to go, and this year’s IIHF World Women’s Championship is better because of it.