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Only finishing touches left for Winter Classic rink

by Dan Rosen

PHILADELPHIA -- The work accomplished in the last 24 hours here at Citizens Bank Park has been as important to NHL Senior Director of Facilities Operations Dan Craig and his crew as anything else they've accomplished since arriving on scene nearly two weeks ago.

Finishing touches to any outdoor ice sheet, especially one as technical as what Craig created on top of the Philadelphia Phillies' home field, requires tender care and long hours.

The first official event on the ice is Saturday's Molson Canadian 2012 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game (1 p.m., Versus). The Rangers and Flyers are slated to practice here Sunday, and the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic is scheduled for Monday at 1 p.m. ET (NBC, CBC, RDS).


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"The logos got finished up (Thursday), we sealed them up, and we put our insulated tarps down until the sun went off the field," Craig told Friday afternoon. "As soon as the sun was off, about 2 o'clock, we pulled all the tarps off and we started sealing up. The guys were here for a solid 12 hours after that. I think they finally fell into bed about 3 o'clock (Friday) morning and another group arrived here at 6 and continued with what we see here today."

What everyone saw at the ballpark Friday was the sun shining brightly on the ice between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. A media game scheduled for noon had to be pushed back along with the regular media skate because the insulated tarps were back on the ice to protect the lines and logos.

Craig said the crew still has to do edging along the boards and he wants to build another quarter- inch of ice, but with the sun holding up the scheduled skates, including a game involving Philadelphia policemen early Friday evening, the crew will have to wait until Friday night before it can tackle those tasks.

"Mother Nature will let you do what you can do and that's about it," Craig said. "When the sun goes down we'll pull tarps and we will do what we're supposed to do.

"We have a couple of good skates here (Friday), and then the guys will do a little bit of work (Friday night) and again (Saturday) morning. We'll be ready for the alumni game."

Craig did test the ice himself, along with some staff members, shortly after 10 a.m. His skates were the first to touch the ice.

"It's good. It's always good. It feels solid," he said. "It was starting to warm up a little bit so one end had a really nice glide to it and the other end, because at 10 o'clock is when the sun comes out and hits it, it was a little bit sticky. But it's nothing we haven't dealt with before. It feels good to get out there. I had some of the staff come out there and go for a little tool-around, as well."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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