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Graveyard shift

by Dan Rosen /
PITTSBURGH -- After spending a few hours at the hotel I am back at Heinz Field. No rest for the weary, right?

Don't feel for me. My job here is nothing compared to the guys from the ice crew and all the union workers that are laboring overnight to keep the rink build for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic alive.

It's Christmas Eve (Christmas morning now), but they're working just like it's any other night because, in reality, that's what it is for the good men who have signed up to be a part of this event.

They're out in the middle of the field right now laying down and connecting the ice pans so when all the kids wake up Christmas morning and immediately run to their brand new laptops to watch our webcam (that is what all you parents will tell them to do, right?) they will see aluminum running almost from one end zone to the other.

The ice pans, which make up the rink's subfloor and provide the freezing element for the ice, will all be down by the early morning (they're more than halfway finished now) so when the day shifters arrive they can get right to work on the next phase of this build-out.

The dasher boards will start going up and the piping that will connect the subfloor (ice pans) to the refrigeration truck will be built. They run a liquid solution called Glycol through the system to freeze the surface. Roughly 35,000 gallons of glycol is needed to bring the ice to NHL specifications.

I was able to bring my FlipCam out onto the field and catch them connecting one of the pans. The video will be up later, but suffice it to say that it's a pretty quick yet strategic process and everyone seems to be working in unison out there to get it done. When they put a pan down and they're happy with how the entire process worked they all cheer, hoot and holler.

One of the guys asked me if my video was going to make it to HBO.

I think we all know the answer to that.

In less than an hour the ice crew is going to take a break for dinner, or is it breakfast. It's a 1 a.m. meal for these guys (good thing they're not Gremlins) and I'll be there with the Flip trying to capture some of the spirit of the thing.

Christmas Eve? So what.

The Winter Classic takes precedent.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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