When the first puck drops in the Stanley Cup finals, much will already have happened behind the scenes to make the game possible. And one of those behind-the-scenes elements, will be the contributions of petrochemicals to today’s game. True story.
Stories, actually – since petrochemicals are all throughout the game.
Take hockey sticks for instance. There are a few players who still use an all-wood stick, but more likely you’ll find today’s slapshots fired off combinations of carbon fiber, fiberglass and urethane – petrochemical-derived all.
Test your knowledge by taking the “How well do you know your hockey?” quiz.
Question 1 – The first hockey pucks were made from:
B. Old tires
C. Road apples
D. Congealed maple syrup
And on the other end of those slapshots, goalies are a mighty fortress these days – wearing masks (though for many years, they did not. Ouch!) made with carbon fiber and fiberglass (again), and Kevlar© (yeah, the same stuff in bulletproof vests. Because the fastest shot on record was a frozen piece of rubber going 114 mph.) A goalie’s gloves? Synthetic leather and nylon on the outside, and foam (for those 114 mph slapshots) on the inside. Altogether, a goalie’s gear can be about a quarter of his body weight (but if it weren’t for materials made from petrochemicals, maybe a goalie’s gear would weigh MORE than a goalie.)
Question 2 – To make the ice for a hockey rink, you need enough water to fill ____ bathtubs:
For the rest of the team, a helmet is standard equipment these days (though that was many years in coming too) – a thermoplastic shell on the outside, often vinyl nitrile foam inside). Skates? A tough nylon covering on the outside, and memory foam inside (so they fit just right). Pads? Check – various synthetic materials. And the uni? Polyester fabric. Petrochemical-derived products make it all possible.
Question 3 – In hockey, the Zamboni is:
A. An award named for the first NHL player from Italy
B. The traditional after-game sandwich
C. A machine for cleaning and smoothing the ice between periods
D. A deke the forward puts on a goalie before shooting.
And Lord Stanley? How did his cup get into this?
That would be Frederick Arthur Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby, which makes him a Britisher, but back in the days of the British Empire – so the Earl of Derby was ALSO the Governor General of Canada. And Lord Stanley fancied the sporting life, so in 1892, he donated the Stanley Cup as the award for the best amateur hockey club in the country. In 1926, it became the award for the NHL champion, as it is to this day.
Each year, the names of players, coaches, everybody, of the winning team are engraved on the cup. And if you’re wondering whose name appears on the Cup more than anyone else’s, that would be Henri Richard, the Pocket Rocket – a legendary Montreal Canadien.
Now, our quiz answers:
C: The first hockey pucks were actually balls. The first flat pucks, were made from either wood or rubber (not from old tires though). But the Native American version of the game, which came first, they used frozen road apples (you’ll have to look that one up for yourself).
B: The typical bathtub holds 50 gallons of water, and since a typical hockey rink needs about 10,600 gallons to make one inch of ice all around – you’d need 212 bathtubs. Filled with water.
C: And the Zamboni – that’s the work of Frank Zamboni, who invented a machine that smooths the ice and resurfaces it.