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Heritage Classic

Preparations underway for Heritage Classic

NHL crew, ice trucks in Winnipeg to begin rink assembly

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer

The official ice truck for the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic between the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg is on the job.

The 53-foot, 300-ton capacity truck, which arrived Sunday, features the world's largest mobile rink refrigeration unit. It will be used to make the rink for the 2016 NHL Heritage Classic Alumni Game on Oct. 22 (4 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN) and the Heritage Classic on Oct. 23 (3 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

NHL senior manager of facilities operations Mike Craig said his crew started installing piping off the truck and preparing the pipe run off the refrigeration unit. In addition, construction of the stage that supports the ice pans in the rink began Tuesday and is about halfway done.

"We have our ice pan going down [Wednesday], and then on [Thursday] we have our dashboard install, and then probably by the evening of the 14th we'll be starting to spray and making ice that afternoon," Craig said. "Once you start spraying, there we'll probably do our white on the 18th, and then possibly lines and logos on the 19th, but that's all weather-dependent. So we should be somewhere in there getting our lines and logos into the ice.

"Everything is going very well. Everything is right on schedule and right where we should be. Weather is in our favor, timetable is in our favor. We're just excited to get everything prepared the best it can be and putting on a great event."

It's been cool and cloudy in Winnipeg, with temperatures in the low 40s and projected to rise to the upper 50s by the weekend, but Mother Nature hasn't impacted preparations.

Video: Check out a time lapse at Investors Group Field

"It's been a good setup so far," Craig said. "It's supposed to get a little bit warmer, which shouldn't impact [us] at all. It's all stuff that we've dealt with in the past at other venues and events. I think everything is right on track."

One such venue was Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, which hosted a Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 25, 2014, when the game day temperature was 75 degrees under clear skies. Other warm-climate hosts were Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., for a 2015 Stadium Series game between the Kings and San Jose Sharks, and Coors Field in Denver for the Detroit Red Wings against the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 27, 2016.

"It's definitely not as warm as some of our California or our Denver setup last year," Craig said. "But we have some good sets of weather here and I think that's why we chose the day we did in October in Winnipeg. I think that we should have a very good few weeks."

The 2016 Heritage Classic will be the fourth outdoor game played in Canada since Nov. 22, 2003, when Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton hosted the first NHL regular-season game played outdoors. The Heritage Classic was played at Calgary's McMahon Stadium on Feb. 20, 2011 and Vancouver's BC Place on March 2, 2014.

"I think that being in Canada is always special," Craig said. "I think Winnipeg is a great Canadian city and we have two very young talented teams coming in here, and I think it's going to be a great hockey event."

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