Ice issues halt practice

Hole forces delay during scrimmage

A hole in the ice at James Brown Arena delayed the Augusta RiverHawks' first scrimmage of the season Tuesday afternoon and will temporarily force the first-year team to move to a different venue.

The hole was discovered in the first period of the team's scrimmage and delayed play for about 30 minutes.

Arena staff responded to the problem, and the removal of cracked ice in and around the hole revealed a gash in the ice about a foot and a half wide.

"It was about the size of a shoebox and it went right down to the cement," RiverHawks forward Matt Auffrey said. "It looked like just slush at first, but then the puck went over it and I could tell something was wrong. You can't play like that. Someone could get hurt."

The RiverHawks resumed their scrimmage with orange traffic cones covering the hole.

Arena general manager Monty Jones Jr. said he wasn't sure what caused the problem. The hole developed along the boards in the same area where a previous hole delayed an Augusta Lynx game almost three years ago.

"It's the same spot," Jones said. "We're going to look at our tests and see what it could be."

The hole that delayed the Lynx's contest came on Jan. 12, 2008, and resulted in a half-hour suspension of play as arena and team staff worked to freeze the ice. A pipe underneath the ice cracked and leaked the brine that is used to keep ice frozen.

RiverHawks general manager Gilles Richard said "a large slab" will be cut out of the ice this morning to get a better look at the source of the problem.

Arena staff had already spent the afternoon replacing broken glass during the morning on-ice session. Defenseman Kirill Doronin laced a shot that flew wide right of the net and struck one of the glass panels.

The glass was replaced in time for the afternoon scrimmage.

Maintenance on the ice, however, could last through the end of the week, which will force the team to move its workouts to the Augusta Ice Sports Center.

Gilles said fans are welcome to attend the training camp's morning on-ice sessions at 10 a.m. at the Augusta Ice Sports Center free of charge.

James Brown Arena is scheduled to play host to a RiverHawks' exhibition game Saturday. The team's home opener is slated for Oct. 22.

NOTE: Head coach Brad Ralph added forward Neil Graham to the training camp roster Tuesday. The team had 23 prospects on the ice for its afternoon scrimmage.

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