PITTSBURGH -- Construction of the rink for the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Heinz Field is on schedule.
The boards are currently being built around an ice surface set atop a deck made up of interlocking plastic squares. The construction crew will continue to work on the walls before spraying the ice with water Thursday night and taking Friday off, said Dan Craig, NHL vice president of facilities operations/hockey operations.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will play the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field, home of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 25 (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2, NHL.TV).
The construction crew hasn't experienced complications during the past few days, which can be partially attributed to the relationships Craig built when leading up to the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field.
"The thing that's helped is all of a sudden we came across a couple of friends we made the last time we were here," Craig said. "All of a sudden, they're back on the crew and it's kind of like, 'Hey, Mr. Craig. How are things?' So, the relationship has already been done from last time. That really helps moving forward.
"They know what to expect. They know the personalities around the group that we have. Coming to Pittsburgh, I love coming to Pittsburgh with the crew from (PPG Paints Arena). It's a great group."
Video: 2017 Stadium Series Heinz Field Time-lapse
A blanket will be pulled over the ice during the day to ensure it doesn't melt before the crew continues to spray the three days following its day off Friday. Craig plans to spray 10-12 hours each day after uncovering the ice at around 4 p.m.
"If you put an ice cube on your table, what's going to happen?" Craig said. "So, we have an insulated blanket, a reflective foil blanket that we put on top of it during the day and we'll come back at night and start spraying again. Everything's good."
Craig plans to have the surface fully painted Monday, including all lines and logos.
The crew worked in below-freezing temperatures on Pittsburgh's North Shore on Friday, with snow flurries circling through Heinz Field's open end and lower bowl. Working in that environment is preferable, Craig said.
"This right here is ideal," Craig said. "The truck doesn't even really have to work. It just helps us a little bit. … Other than that, Mother Nature is going to be doing it all anyway."
The temperature is expected to rise significantly over the weekend with highs near 60 degrees, which isn't expected to hinder the crew's progress.
"We'll work at night when it goes back down into the mid-40s," Craig said. "It's all good."
No matter the forecast, Craig said the crew would provide an NHL-quality rink for the Penguins and Flyers.
"The pressure is on and it's self-imposed as much as anything else," Craig said. "Now the expectation is there because of the equipment that we do have. The players understand it. They know. Guys who have played on our outdoor surfaces, they've come to expect top-of-the-line.
"If you've watched some of the events as the game has grown, competition is faster and harder. It's points on the table and guys know, especially at this time of year, I mean that's very, very crucial in the last few weeks."
With that understanding, Craig expects no critical ice issues during the game.
"I don't take any chances on anything," Craig said. "Our expectations are the best of the best in the world, bar none."