Ice, ice baby: Steelheads a good fit for Aces' international rink
There are two standard sizes for hockey rinks. The NHL size (200 feet by 85 feet), which is used in most North American arenas, and the international size (200 feet by 100 feet), which is used in the Olympics and almost everywhere outside of the United States and Canada.
International sized ice is also used at Sullivan Arena in Anchorage, Alaska, where the Idaho Steelheads open the Western Conference Semifinals Thursday.
According to Steelheads coach Brad Ralph, an extra 15 feet of ice surface can be a game changer.
"A couple feet doesn't sound like a lot, but when you combine all of them it makes for a much different playing experience," said Ralph. "It's not as physical, and there's a lot more room to skate."
"Brad Ralph the player preferred smaller arenas," he added with a chuckle. "As a coach, it's irrelevant. It's what type of team you have, and I like the way our team plays on big ice."
Ralph knows a thing or two about coaching on international ice. He is 12-6-1 against the Aces in his coaching career (5-2-1 in Anchorage). Of course, the Aces are accustomed to the larger playing surface, and Ralph said that makes them a dangerous team.
"They're conditioned on this big ice. They skate well, and they're a puck possession team," explained Ralph. "It's certainly daunting to go up against them in a seven game series, but we stacked up well against them (this season), so hopefully we can find that same magic and have our legs here tonight."