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Ice crew handles fresh snow, prepares for even more

by Corey Masisak

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- After a couple of days with balmy temperatures and then one a little cooler, it was definitely colder and windier Tuesday morning at Michigan Stadium as NHL Facilities Operations Manager Dan Craig's crew continued to put the final touches on the ice for the Bridgestone 2014 NHL Winter Classic.

There was also a fresh coat of snow through the night leading into Tuesday morning, but Craig said that wasn't an issue.

"No, we've dealt with snow before," Craig said. "It just took like a four-degree drop between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. That's what threw us a little. We had the heaters set on a certain stage and we needed a little more juice the first thing this morning. Other than that, we're pretty good right now."

The weather forecast for the game Wednesday between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs has changed in the past 24 hours or so. It's possible more snow will fall than originally expected. It is not expected to be as windy Wednesday as it was Tuesday morning.

Craig's staff will have to make some audibles based on the weather, but that's not anything new for them, either.

"Always, always," Craig said. "I don't know [what] yet. We change on the fly. It is like playing a hockey game in itself. You are going to get put into a situation and you just have to adjust as you get up in the morning and you just go. You read and react. That's the biggest part."

Should there be steady snow during the game, which is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., Craig said that won't be a problem. Ten guys from his crew will be ready on skates with shovels if the snow needs to be cleared during a stoppage of play.

If there is a lot of snow between now and the game, it could mean for less sleep for the guys who have been building the surface at the Big House.

"That just means that guys will get wake-up calls a lot earlier," Craig said. "That's all. No earlier than me, because they don't want that."

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