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Brad Preston on The Ice Girls
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Recently the NHL mandated that during each break, team ice personnel must shovel excess ice shavings and snow from the front of the benches and the goal crease.

Islanders Manager of Game Operations and Events, Brad Preston joins us to discuss the New York Islanders solution: The Pepsi Ice Girls. A clever solution that answers the league mandate, creates sponsor inventory, and enhances the entertainment value of an Islanders game.

Gameops.com
: Who are the Pepsi Ice Girls?

Brad Preston
: The team is a response to a new league rule that was implemented in the Summer of 2001. The league mandated that every team shovel the excess snow from the benches and goals during every TV time out, which is about 9 times per game and overtime. Most arenas use the ice staff and arena workers. Here at the Islanders we wanted to do something more. We have been focusing on providing our fans with more fun and a better overall presentation so this was our response. We found a team of talented figure skaters who could do the ice and we have found them to be really beneficial in additional ways as well.

Gameops.com: Explain how else they are used.

Brad Preston: In addition to the shoveling, they have been used to help collect hats that are tossed after hat tricks, they ride the Zamboni and shoot t-shirts to the crowd. They are our interactive team on skates.

We have also been using them to help with intermission contents and presentations. They are a great tool in this aspect as well.



Gameops.com: How did this get started?

Brad Preston
: Our Director of Game Operations, Tim Beach, came up with the idea to use it here. It just grew out of the idea that we wanted to take the mundane task of shoveling the snow and make it something fans would look forward to.

Gameops.com
: Where did you find the Ice Girls?

Brad Preston
: We started by putting up posters at ice rinks and colleges. Our only requirement was that they could skate. After the first half of the season we have decided we need a few more so we are having a second audition so we have some alternates and the women don't have to make every game.

Gameops.com: What are you looking for when you audition?

Brad Preston: We wanted women who can skate, so what we found was there are a lot of former competitive figure skaters who still like to skate and perform but have no outlet for it. They are a great resource for a team.

Gameops.com: What has been the response?

Brad Preston
: Overall it has been outstanding. The first time they appeared you could hear a slow roar building through the stands. The fans enjoyed the surprise. It was really loud the first game, and our fans still appreciate them each time they come out.

The first week we got a lot of email, asking who they were and if they would be at every game.

I also got a great note from a woman who said her daughter wanted to be an ice girl for Halloween, and her son was a hockey player.

Our fans are about 2 to 1 males, so of course they are popular with that group as well.

Gameops.com: Any complaints?

Brad Preston
: A couple, the same complaints some people have with dancers and cheerleaders. We have been very aware of how the women are presented. All the costume decisions are made with the women involved in the process. We don’t want them wearing anything they are uncomfortable with. Their input has been really important to the success.

Gameops.com: What should a team know when considering implementing something like this?

Brad Preston: Know your market. This may not play in some places as well as it does here. Find the best team you can who will all get along, we have been really lucky in that our team all really enjoy each other and get a long. This really works well when everyone looks like they are having fun.

And then the same rules that apply with dance teams; keep them low key, first names only and use women who are 18 and older.

Thanks to Brad Preston (Manager of Games and Events) and Tim Beach (Director of Operations) from the New York Islanders.

Ice Girls Introduction

(Oct. 23) Since their debut in September, inquiring minds have wanted to know about the new crew of ice cleaner-uppers during the TV time-outs at Islanders home games. So let us introduce you to the Pepsi Ice Girls.

The Islanders decided to jazz things up a bit this season, instead of the usual pail-and-shovel crew mandated by the NHL’s Hockey Operations staff in an effort to maintain good ice quality. The primary function of the Ice Girls is to remove excess snow from the goal and bench areas during games. Snow removal occurs during the three TV time-outs each period, as per NHL requirements.

The crew also assists in on-ice and in-crowd promotions. These promotions include firing t-shirts into the stands during both intermissions while perched atop the Zambonis, and delivering prizes to winning contestants, among others.

The Ice Girls, all of whom hail from Long Island, were selected from a large group of hopefuls by way of a summer tryout and interview process, and all are highly accomplished figure skaters. A few other NHL teams, including the Panthers, have also started ice crews of their own this season. (Source: NY Islanders web site) Bart Rogers on Using Celebrities
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