The 2019 Tim Hortons Heritage Classic is more than a week away but it appears conditions will be perfect for the rink build and the outdoor game at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan.
"This week, that will make things easier for building ice," said Derek King, senior manager, facility operations for the game between the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 26 (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN1, CITY, TVAS2, NHL.TV). "Even if it's sunny during the day we'll cover the sheet during the day and we'll take advantage of that weather and do some other jobs around here. And then the night crew can work to build the ice."
The building of the rink began with the arrival the 53-foot trailer containing the portable ice plant and the generators that power it on Tuesday.
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Though King and his crew were welcomed by a cool, dreary day in Regina, daytime high temperatures are expected to be well into the 50s Fahrenheit (above 10 degrees Celsius), with nights near the freezing mark for the remainder of this week. Next week, daytime temperatures will be cooler, near 40 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius), with evenings near freezing, including on Heritage Classic game day. No heavy precipitation or storms are in the forecast.
"As far as the long-range forecast, it will be great for the game if it turns out that way. We like to keep (the ice) around 24 or 25 degrees Fahrenheit," King said. "We have learned throughout the years how to manipulate it to make it better. If we have to, we can back off with the (ice plant). We've done a number of these now and we actually have a heater running off the truck, so if it gets too cold out, we can actually warm the ice up if needed."
The enclosed stadium, which is home to the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League, will make for outstanding sight lines for the Heritage Classic, though its upper bowl design, open at one end of the field, might allow for variable wind conditions.
"Luckily for us we have a night game so the sun will not be a factor," King said. "When we had (the 2016 NHL Heritage Classic) in Winnipeg, we had a sun delay, but wind could be a factor, so if that comes into play, we'll make adjustments that are necessary and for the teams, they'll switch ends mid-way through the third period.
"But the long-range forecast looks good and as we go we'll adapt with whatever Mother Nature throws our way."
King's crew of 18 is an eclectic group from across Canada, all familiar with arena ice making. After the unpacking and surveying at the site on Tuesday, they'll be split into day and night crews and an intense building phase begins Wednesday with running pipes.
"What's nice about this crew is that we're pretty much self-sufficient," King said. "It's not all ice guys. I don't need 18 ice guys. I've got a mechanic on staff, an electrician, a couple of plumbers, a couple of pipe fitters, so it doesn't matter what city we go to, we have guys who can look after everything."
King said he hopes to be installing rink boards Friday and making ice that night. His most important goal is to have the ice sheet ready to go by early afternoon Oct. 24, two days before the game.
The Flames and Jets each have scheduled practices at Mosaic Stadium late in the day Oct. 25.
"For us, practice day is practice day for us too," King said. "It allows us to see how the sheet's going to react and it will allow us to get some feedback from the players, too, after their skates."
Video: The ice truck arrives at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, SK