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Special blankets will star as Craig makes ice in L.A.

by Dan Rosen

A common response from people when they hear about the National Hockey League planning an outdoor game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles is, "Won't the ice melt?"

It won't, promises Dan Craig, the NHL's Senior Director of Facilities Operations. The reason: reflective insulated blankets.

Those blankets and the refrigeration truck parked outside the stadium will be Craig's best friends when he and his crew of 10-plus members build the rink for the 2014 Coors Light Stadium Series game between the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, set for Jan. 25 at Dodger Stadium (10 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. PT).

"When the sun comes up in the morning we will put reflective insulated blankets on top of the surface," Craig told "When the sun goes down, we remove the blankets and then we will continue to make ice overnight."

The only difference between making ice in L.A. as opposed to any cold-weather city the League has visited for either a Winter Classic or Heritage Classic is the time of day the ice crew will be working.

The game in L.A. will be a night project because that's when its dark and the temperature will be somewhere in the mid-40s (Fahrenheit), far more conducive to making ice than it would be under the daytime sun, when the temperature is in the low-to-mid-70s.


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Craig said the refrigeration truck, which will be an identical twin to the one that will be used in Ann Arbor, Mich., for the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, won't have to run any differently in L.A. than it did in Philadelphia or Boston or Pittsburgh because of the reflective insulated blankets. They will keep the ice frozen during the day.

"What I'm anticipating to happen now is we would probably arrive at the stadium at 5 because I'm anticipating the sun will be off the rink by that time," Craig said. "We will remove the blankets, which will probably take about an hour, and we will start our flooding or spraying the water and building ice probably around 6 o'clock at night and work until 6 o'clock in the morning. It will take an hour for the last spray to set and then we'll put the blankets back on and everybody will go to bed. We can't risk doing it any other way."

The timing is key, Craig said, because he wants to be at the stadium working during the hours that the game will be played. It's currently scheduled for a 7 p.m. local time start.

"We will be doing our work exactly at the very same time we play our game, so we know exactly how the equipment [in the ice truck] is going to react when the sun goes down," Craig said. "We will know exactly how [the rink] is going to react when we turn the lights on and exactly how it's going to react when we take the blankets off."

One positive for Craig is the weather pattern in L.A. is actually quite predictable, which is far different from say Philadelphia, where the temperature along the boards was close to 70 degrees on the day of the Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park.

"You know it's going to be 72-74 degrees every day and you know it's going to go down to the mid-40s at night," Craig said. "That's the weather pattern in L.A. You can't get any easier than that."


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