x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Broken Zamboni threatens to cut Emirates Hockey League short

Now it looks like the best-of-three competition between the Dubai Mighty Camels and Al Ain Vipers will be reduced to a one-game championship tonight. Also, it will be played in Al Ain.

Dubai Mighty Camels will be heading to Abu Dhabi for their play-off against Al Ain Vipers. Satish Kumar / The National
Dubai Mighty Camels will be heading to Abu Dhabi for their play-off against Al Ain Vipers. Satish Kumar / The National

For want of a replacement part, the Emirates Hockey League championship series may be lost. Or shortened. It certainly has been delayed.

A broken-down Zamboni machine at the Dubai Mall rink has backed up the final chapter of the season, and may reduce it from a best-of-three competition to a one-game championship tonight.

The Dubai Mighty Camels and Al Ain Vipers had been set to begin a best-of-three finale on Sunday in Dubai, but the machine used between periods to clean the ice – quickly gouged by hockey skates – to a pristine sheen has been stalled because of a defective part. The country has as few as four Zambonis, so the breakdown of one is something of a disaster for ice hockey aficionados.

The Camels and Vipers will play at Zayed Sports City at 8.30pm tonight, and it may be a one-off for the championship. It could return to a best-of-three if the ice at Dubai Mall is ready tomorrow.

Players on both teams are eager to see the championship decided in the next few days; many have plans arranged at the end of the season, which was to have been tomorrow, before the Zamboni conked out.

The machine is an ingenious vehicle invented in 1949 by Frank Zamboni. The machine shaves the top of the ice, washes the shavings, applies a thin coat of water and is finished in 15 minutes.

No decision about potential Games 2 or 3 will be made until this afternoon, so hockey fans looking for one last game should plan on being at Zayed Sports City tonight, where the Zamboni is in working order.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE