Skip to Main Content
The Official Site of the Washington Capitals

Stadium Series Ice Plant Rolls into Annapolis

The NHL officially took over Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium to set the stage for Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs on March 3rd

by Washington Capitals @Capitals /

Countdown to the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ continued as the National Hockey League officially took over Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium with the arrival of the 2018 NHL Stadium Series™ Ice Plant on February 20.

The 53-foot NHL Ice Plant trailer, the world's largest mobile refrigeration unit, houses the state-of-the-art ice-making and ice-monitoring equipment used to create an NHL-caliber sheet of ice.

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, Washington Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan, Washington Capitals Alumni Peter Bondra, Rod Langway and Craig Laughlin, United States Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Walter E. "Ted" Carter and NHL Senior Manager, Facilities Operations & Hockey Operations Derek King were all in attendance as the Stadium Series crew began their final 10 days of preparation before the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs come to town.

Video: Stadium Series Ice Plant Press Conference

Capitals senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan met with the media to talk about his team's excitement to be so close to playing hockey outside.

Video: Brian MacLellan talks Stadium Series from Annapolis

More photos below from what was a beautiful day in Annapolis plus an outline of what goes into building a NHL outdoor rink. See you on March 3rd! Click here for more information about the 2018 Stadium Series.

Constructing an NHL-caliber ice rink outdoors at a facility designed for a sport other than hockey is a unique challenge. Much more than taking a garden hose into your backyard and flooding an area, for its outdoor games, the National Hockey League uses special equipment, expertise and technology to create an ice rink fit for the best hockey players in the world.

The most important aspects of making outdoor ice for an NHL game are ensuring the conditions meet all of the safety standards required for the players and providing all of the tools necessary for an NHL game. To accommodate its outdoor games, the NHL designed and built a one-of-a-kind mobile refrigeration unit and rink system. The main function of the 53-foot, 300-ton capacity refrigeration unit is to perform the key function of making a great sheet of ice - to remove heat from the surface and stabilize the temperature.

To do this, the unit pumps as much as 3,000 gallons of glycol coolant into custom-made aluminum trays that are configured on the field of the stadium. Running through a series of hoses from the refrigeration unit to the field, the glycol chills the trays in order to keep the ice near its ideal surface temperature of 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Following the placement of the ice trays, the rink boards are installed.

Once the boards are up and the ideal surface temperature is attained, the actual process of building the ice begins. In an NHL arena, the ice is built to a thickness of approximately 1-1.25 inches. An outdoor rink, however, requires up to 2 inches of ice thickness to help withstand the more extreme elements. While many speculate that it takes special water to create the ice, the water used is the same tap water provided into everyone's homes.

Water is added as slowly as possible, in as fine a mist as the process will allow. Workers pass the spray wand over the ice rink hundreds of times, providing a more-even freeze and better-quality playing surface. Each inch of ice thickness requires approximately 10,000 gallons of water. For finishing touches, the ice surface is whitened using approximately 350 gallons of water soluble paint. The lines and logos then are painted and placed on the surface, with more ice built on top.

Once constructed, monitoring the status of the ice is a 24-hour job. To help this process, a high-tech system called Eye on the Ice is embedded in the surface. The technology provides updates on temperatures at different areas of the ice, signaling an alert prompting the need to pump more glycol or engage the in-line heating system in case the weather gets too cold.


View More