Is hockey rink glass technology as transparent as it seems?
Hockey is the contact sport we all know and love. We can watch our favourite players showcase their finesse and skill with their dribbling and shooting while at the same time checking their opponents and throwing down.
The adrenaline rush from watching hockey live is exhilarating, and we can get so engrossed in the action that we forget how dangerous the game can be. We forget how protected we are behind the hockey rink glass.
It’s hard to imagine today, but for the first half of the 20th-century, chicken wire surrounded the ice rink during hockey games. While it offered some means of protection, it made it difficult for fans to watch the games, and it was relatively easy for fans to interrupt games.
So, what is ice rink glass made of? Today, we see the glass version, which is a significant improvement from wire. Hockey rink glass serves several purposes, including:
- Protecting spectators from line-drive pucks flying at them, which can cause severe if not fatal injuries, not to mention protecting arena owners from lawsuits that result from injuries;
- Ensuring that the game is uninterrupted by keeping the puck within the rink and in play;
- Protecting both players and fans from each other and preventing physical altercations between them during highly-emotional games; and
- Insulating the arena by keeping the cold air in the rink (especially useful during flooding and set-up).
Have you ever stopped to think and wondered, what kind of glass is around a hockey rink? After all, we’ve seen how much punishment that barrier can take. Standard glass would probably break into a million pieces with just one hit from a puck flying at around 100 miles per hour.
In today’s market, there are two approved types of glass used in hockey rinks, tempered glass, and Plexiglas. Tempered glass goes through the process known as tempering, which involves the successive heating and cooling of glass to strengthen it.
You can find tempered glass along the sides of the rink, the penalty box, and the team benches. Tempered glass does two things well. First, it is built to withstand the impact from players slamming into it, and it is clear allowing the audience an unobstructed view of the action.
While it is called glass, manufacturing Plexiglas does not involve heated liquid sand, like your traditional glass. Instead, Plexiglas consists of acrylic plastic sheets. Plexiglas is mounted on the dasher boards around the arena and held together by supports. The acrylic glass absorbs impact better than tempered glass.
How high is the glass on a hockey rink? It varies according to the type of glass used. Tempered glass usually stands six feet tall while plexiglass’ typical height is eight feet.
Despite the increased safety that Plexiglas provides hockey associations, manufacturers continue to search for better ways and innovate technology to protect players and non-participants alike.
Now that you know how far hockey rink shielding has come to protect your safety while watching the sport you enjoy, take a moment next game to appreciate the unsung hero of the arena.
Athletica is a leader in the design, engineering, innovation, and manufacture of dasher board systems for all levels of hockey, from backyards to the pros. They also supply a full range of specialty products and services for sports facilities of all kinds.