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Rink at Dodger Stadium almost ready for use

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- The surface of the outdoor rink at Dodger Stadium almost has all the bells and whistles. In a few days, it should be ready for some referee whistles.

With all the other ice markings in place, the center-ice logo and other branding logos were about to be painted Monday night for the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series game, the first regular season West Coast outdoor game in NHL history, on Saturday between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks.

Dan Craig, the NHL's Senior Director of Facilities Operations, also said his crew will build another quarter-inch of ice and then another quarter-inch to get to the required 1½ inches by Tuesday night.

Wednesday will be the first time the rink will be used, when the media game is held, and Craig said he's curious to see how the first run goes.

"You're always curious just because you know the hard work that the crew has put together and you always want great results," Craig said. "You're never ready for disappointment."

Craig and his crew have been keeping the ice under thermal wraps during the day to protect it from the heat. They might catch a slight break later in the week as temperatures are supposed to drop slightly, although it is still projected to reach a high of the upper-70 degrees Saturday.

"It's still warmer than the seasonal average, but we've been able to handle to the 80-plus [degrees]," Craig said. "You give me a 75 or a 72, I'll be fine."

Friday could pose a challenge because the Kings will practice at 4 p.m., when the ice will still be exposed to sunlight.

"I think we'll be fine," Craig said. "It's one of those things where the next two or three days will really tell us how tight we're going to be, but I think right now we're going to be in good shape."

The venue was otherwise coming along. Almost all the glass is in place and the netting behind one goal was being erected. The stadium's two giant television screens were being tested out, as were the digital game clock and scoreboard that rim the second level. Decorative banners lined the outfield walls and dugout areas.

With six days to go until puck drop, Craig was looking forward to the spectacle.

"I'm always excited for these games," he said. "It's one of those things … we're taking it outdoors. This is where it began. I would have loved to have been able to talk to guys who did our job that we have right now back in the old outdoor games when the NHL played outdoors. I would love to be able to talk to those guys, because they did it in March. They did it in February. They had barrels and they had shovels. We think we have it tough? I'd love to talk to those guys."

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