PHILADELPHIA -- The ice held well throughout Saturday's Molson Canadian 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game at Citizens Bank Park despite getting a direct blast of sun more intense than anything NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig had encountered.
"Everybody had fun, and that's the thing because right now I don't want to be too serious about the way it was," Craig told NHL.com roughly an hour after the Flyers alumni finished off a 3-1 win against the Rangers alumni. "We had a good game, everybody was safe, nobody was in a dangerous position, and 45,000 people enjoyed themselves. That's where I'm at."
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Craig, who called the ice "solid," was in a far different place in the hours leading up to Saturday's alumni game, which began at 3 p.m. ET. The sun that drenched the Philadelphia area throughout the early afternoon caused the boards along the players' benches to heat up to 92 degrees before the stroke of noon, Craig said
The ice crew responded with the placement of insulated tarps along the edges of the ice, as well as on top of all the lines and logos.
"I have never had to deal with it before and I wouldn't wish it on anybody to have to do that," Craig said of the type of heat the ice sheet absorbed before they began removing the tarps at 2 p.m..
The alumni hit the ice 30 minutes after the last tarp was removed from the ice. Craig would have liked to have had more time for the refrigeration truck to catch up, but was still able to make everything work.
"We pulled tarps off while the sun was still on it, so the truck couldn't ever catch up," Craig said. "This truck is not built for 70 degree weather out here."
"I've never had to deal with this, but before Edmonton (2003 Heritage Classic), I didn't have to deal with ice at minus-22 degrees either. You just try to see whatever else is in the magic bag and deal with it."
Following the game, the crew was back tending to the ice sheet. They did a dry cut with the Zamboni to clear all the snow before bringing out the hoses to give the ice some hot floods "to get this thing to settle down so the truck has something to work with."
Craig said the crew would be leaving the ballpark by 9 p.m. Saturday night, but he gave the assurance that the ice will be ready to go for the Flyers 9 a.m. practice Sunday. The Flyers moved their practice time up two and a half hours so they don't have to worry about the potential presence of sun Sunday morning.
"I'm here at 6 o'clock in the morning, so if they want to practice at 6, I'm here," Craig said. "We'll load up the machine, do a trim, take a look at the ice sheet and get us ready for practice."