How an ice emergency was averted for NHL games in Toronto

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption One fan uses a snow scraper to keep the ball over the border

The race to get their winter games up and running in time for Christmas is over for some NHL teams – although games are continuing to be played in Toronto.

It was feared that the excessive cold in northern Toronto would have resulted in a break in rink schedules due to cold corrosion to some of the ice used in cold games.

However, the city moved swiftly to amend rules covering ice conditions.

It seems the Winter Classic – and the Toronto Blue Jays World Series – have beaten the threat of an ice emergency.

The damage from the last spell of unusually cold weather, said to have lasted for two weeks, was severe – leading to many of the hard surface having to be replaced.

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But on Monday evening – after 25 December, two weeks into the country’s polar vortex – the city’s mayor John Tory moved to try to save a few hockey goals from being broken.

There was outcry on social media that Mr Tory’s administration would water down rules that had recently been implemented to avoid a repeat of the 2014 incident.

But after a meeting of the city’s winter sports advisory committee, which has studied the issue, the mayor announced that alterations to the rules had been made to improve ice conditions.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption

The city is only required to be ice safe – so a test was not needed to ensure a rink would not crack on Wednesday – after Toronto Maple Leafs play the Ottawa Senators on New Year’s Eve.

Mr Tory told reporters it was all “about timing”.

“If we get in a period of over ice before we’ve had the chance to re-inspect the ice, all bets are off,” he said.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Ice breakages are still possible but now ‘very rare’

Mr Tory added that even if the Blue Jays lose their World Series game to the Houston Astros (who won 11-2 in game four), they will still be in the event of snow or extreme cold on Sunday.

Monday’s revelation came as it was also revealed that the number of potential ice sports activities this Christmas period had dropped.

Once the requirement to be ice safe was removed, many events were still scheduled to be played on Wednesday, ranging from ice skating to a man dressed as Santa Claus skating over the border into Quebec and two lone stuntmen flipping large ice blocks over the border into Ontario.

But things seemed to be gearing up for normal this week, especially as temperatures are finally set to rise towards temperatures comparable to those seen in December and early January.

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