ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The sun began its ascent in the blue Michigan sky Saturday morning, but NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig and his team were ready.
Half of Craig's crew, led by his son Mike, put all of the lines and logos on the ice Friday night into Saturday morning at Michigan Stadium for the Bridgestone 2014 NHL Winter Classic. The other half relieved them and went to work just after 4 a.m. at making more ice on top.
The objective was simple: Build as much ice on top as possible before the sun's rays reached the rink, and then cover the surface with tarps to preserve it.
"Everything was painted and sealed and ready to go," Craig said. "We split the crew and made sure everyone got food and got warm before their overnight shift. They were ready to put the markings in around 8 [p.m.] and I think the first lines started going down at about 8:30. I texted Mike at 1:20 [a.m.] just wanting to know the status and he said they were in good shape. The last logo went in at about 2:30 a.m.
"We're in good shape there. We just have to make sure we have enough [tarps] for the auxiliary rink as well as the big one. The sun is going to come down on the penalty box side first and then in the afternoon it will the other side. We'll make sure that side gets tarps first along the boards. We reversed the flow on the pipes on the floor last night to make sure that side is the colder side when the sun came out this morning."