‘It was like trying to play with a football’: Poor ice conditions at SAP Center lead to some awkward bounces

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As the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks found out in Game 3, playing hockey in California in June will make ice conditions problematic.

The puck was bouncing unpredictably throughout Game 3 because of the poor state the ice was in. It’s not really anyone’s fault, but it definitely affects the way each team plays.

“It’s hard to make a lot of lateral plays when the puck’s bouncing,” said Pens head coach Mike Sullivan. ” As the game wore on, we talked to them about just simplifying the game, playing forward, putting pucks at the net, not looking for the extra pass.  I think anytime when you play this late in the year, I think a lot of times the ice breaks down, no matter where you are. Just simplifying the process, playing straight ahead, not looking for that extra pass.  A lot of times when you do, the puck bounces, it bobbles.  Sometimes you can feed the opponent’s transition game.”
With outdoor temperatures approaching 90 degrees in San Jose on Saturday, it’s no wonder that the ice didn’t hold up very well.

“It was like trying to play with a football, [the puck] going everywhere,” said Pens defenseman Ian Cole, per Yahoo’s Puck Daddy blog.

“Ice was  … not good. Not the best. I saw the pipes outside when I walked in. I guess they’re trying to get the temperature down, the humidity down. But the ice wasn’t great,”

Although some players admitted that the ice played a factor in the game, others, like Pens captain Sidney Crosby, weren’t making excuses after Game 3.

“Nah, both teams are using the same ice,” said Crosby. “I think that’s to be expected this time of the year. In San Jose, you kind of expect that at this point.”

Now that the Penguins have experienced the ice conditions, it’ll be interesting to see how they adjust in Game 4 on Monday night.