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The Official Site of the Buffalo Sabres


by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
The 2008 NHL Winter Classic is rapidly approaching, as is the hype. To give updates on the event, specifically the progression of the rink and the ice-making process, the League is holding daily press conferences. NHL officials Don Renzulli and Dan Craig discuss the challenges, development and status of the playing surface being built at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Don Renzulli
NHL Senior Vice President for Events and Entertainment

"We actually started placing trailers and equipment here about two weeks ago. We were ready as soon as the game ended. As soon as the game ended we removed goal posts and tarped the field. We were probably done with that around 5:30 p.m.

"At that point, most of you have seen the weather, we got a little gust and lost a piece of the tarp. We decided to change our timetable around. We did a few other things so we didn’t get anybody injured or hurt that night. We unloaded a number of trucks, the mats, moved the plywood down to the field.

"We got everything prepared so we were ready to go. We had guys working all night doing that and then yesterday morning Dan and his crew got out there, starting setting up what you see down on the field right now. As far as weather goes, down on the 50-yard line, you’ll see a weather station that we have set up and it’s been stet up since following the game. We can monitor that in our office, anything we need to know about that coming in. Obviously Dan, is watching that and he can update you a little bit more on the build up."

Dan Craig
NHL Facilities Operation Manager

"It’s a privilege and a great honor to be here in Buffalo to do what I classify as my third outdoor game; seeing as I was involved in the Michigan State and Michigan game as well as the Heritage Classic.

"Each one of these is a creature of it’s own. As you are very much aware of, being at the Bills game on the weekend, it made for a few challenges the first night. But as Don said, we worked our way around it, reshuffled our timetables, got our guys a little bit of extra rest on that first day and then pushed very hard for the last 48 hours.

"The number one thing that we did, as you know there is a crown on this field that is nine inches sideline-to-sideline and where the rink is a six-inch lift. So the number one thing that we had to do was level off that crown, which is leveled off with Styrofoam. As our first layer we built a box to enclose the Styrofoam. To do that full entire box probably took us eight to 10 hours to get that all together.

"Seeing as we still had to deal with some wind gusts in here to try to keep our Styrofoam down in place, you can’t see it because of the plastic, but right over top of the Styrofoam is three-quarters of an inch of plywood, which gives us a solid base to run our machines on. Then we cover it up with the plastic and as you see right now, the mats- what we call ice mats- that’s where the coolant for the refrigeration goes in. As we’re right up here right now we’re pressure testing the system, we’re ready to fill the mats within the next three to four hours.

"As you look out the windows, you can see crews out there putting sand down. As soon as the sand is down we go out here with the hose and make sure the sand is totally saturated right down to the plastic. When our system is full, the refrigeration compressors get fired up, and between the compressors and Mother Nature, we’ll make ice.

"Hopefully by this time tomorrow, we won’t have an inch of ice, but I hope to have a half an inch of ice out there, by this time tomorrow. At the same time, as you’ll notice, the boards are going up. By the time you get back here tomorrow, the boards will be a fully-enclosed hockey rink."

Watch Wednesday's full press conference by clicking play below.

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