After two straight dreary, rainy days, the sun shone brightly on the rink build for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
"This is probably the best weather we could have for a set-up," NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig told NHL.com. "Can't ask for better than this."
"It's the spirit of the guys," Craig added. "Especially when you're on your hands and knees putting panels together, putting boards together, your legs are wet, your feet are wet, you're getting rained on. Today it's a lot brighter. You get a suntan coming off these panels."
"This is probably the best weather we could have for a set-up. Can't ask for better than this." -- NHL Senior Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig
"The boards are all completed now," Craig said. "We got a couple small sections that need a couple adjustments and we're ready to put the Zamboni gate on the back end. We're ready to load up the refrigerant into the truck later this afternoon. Hopefully, if everything goes well, we'll be up and running probably by the end of today; if not, first thing tomorrow morning."
The hoses from the truck, which will run approximately 450 feet and with an elevation change of about 30 feet, need to be completely hooked to the ice trays and cleared of air, a process Craig said could take 10-12 hours. Once that's done, Craig said the glycol being used to freeze the ice trays can be pumped down to the rink.
Once the coolant is running through the ice trays, Craig said things go out of his hands.
"The sun will go off the panels probably 2:30 this afternoon," he said. "Once the truck is running, we'll let Mother Nature take the temperature down and we'll start working on it. Once it gets down to the high 40s, low 30s, we'll be fine."
Depending on the temperature change, Craig said he hopes to begin spraying water on the rink late Thursday night or -- more likely -- early Friday morning.
"I'm hoping to do tomorrow morning as a test," Craig said. "It looks like we're supposed to get a lot of rain tonight, so that may slow us down again. But we just do what we do any other day -- we wake up, and whatever we have (weather-wise), that's what we work with."
What he had to work with on Thursday was bright sunshine and temperatures in the high 50s; many of the workers wore T-shirts as they went about their tasks. Taking advantage of the beautiful weather, the entertainment stages in left and right field doubled in size from Wednesday, a smaller round stage was built in center field, and the broadcast positions for the game-announce crew were built. Signage went up on the roof of the chalets the NBC and CBC studio teams will use for the broadcast, and other signage continued to be hung throughout the ballpark, as it continued its transformation to an outdoor hockey oasis.
"It feels good, it feels warm," Craig said. "Doesn't feel like Christmas."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK