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Posted at 7:14 AM ET, 12/28/2010

The challenge of building an outdoor rink

By Katie Carrera
Morning Roundup

As anyone who has ever tried to make a rink in their backyard knows, building a hockey-worthy ice surface outdoors isn't an easy task. Constructing a playing surface for the best hockey players in the world is a little more stressful and requires even more precision.

On Monday, NHL Facilities Operation Manager Dan Craig discussed some of the difficulties of building the rink for this year's Winter Classic at Heinz Field. The stadium along Pittsburgh's North Shore has notorious wind patterns because it is open on one end, and the swirling has made things a little more difficult for Craig and his crew as they spray water to form the ice.

"It's a challenge," Craig said of the wind. "When you're spraying here and it ends up on that back wall...we'd like it to land and freeze where we point it, not 40 feet away. That's why it's a challenge. We're trying to make this thing, the ice surface, as dense as we possibly can. That's why we use fine sprays, but when the wind is pushing it everywhere we have to expand the flow of the water a little bit."

At the time of the press conference, Craig said they had an inch and a half of ice down. According to Dan Rosen from, the surface was painted white and sealed with another layer of ice last night and the lines and logos will be added Tuesday.

Craig and his crew also had to create a platform of sorts in order to build the rink on a level surface -- something Heinz Field is not.

"Because of the turf here, it really was the crown of the field and that's why we have decking here to alleviate that concern," Craig said. "Once the stage went down we put a plywood layer on top of it so we could put ice pans on top of it. We had three crews working side by side and basically leap frogging each other down the field."

Check out the time lapse of the rink construction at Heinz Field below:

Rain is in the forecast over the weekend in Pittsburgh, but NHL officials remain optimistic that the Winter Classic will take place as planned on New Year's Day.

All eyes might be on the Winter Classic weather, but the Capitals have business to attend to against Montreal tonight first.

Japers' Rink on the constant switching between Capitals' goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth.

Five possible headaches for this year's Winter Classic. (Puck Daddy)

By Katie Carrera  | December 28, 2010; 7:14 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Roundup, Winter Classic  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Winter Classic ice crew bracing for rain
Next: Center Keith Aucoin recalled from Hershey


Uh, don't we have a game tonight?

Posted by: griz0615 | December 28, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse


Congrats on the mighty two 1st's in a rows! As you were typing did you do the horn coming out of your forehead?

Posted by: FLDave | December 27, 2010 4:30 PM

@FLDave: Yes, I did.

However, if you must know, I got the nickname during 10+ years of mostly inline hockey because:

1) I play mean--lots of PIM's but no fighting majors.
2) My uncorrected eyesight is very poor--hence the lack of fighting majors.
3) Bigger, faster, younger, and stronger skaters--i.e. the folks you might expect would easily knock me down...well, let's just say that they can't

...just like a Rhino.

I'm not a great athlete--never have been--but every sport I try, I go all-out. Hockey rewards "no-quit" like no other sport I've tried--even when skill is lacking...which is why I love watching it and playing it.

My main regret is that I didn't start playing until age 38, so I definitely feel you on that bit where you wrote: "It makes me want to beat my parents for not getting skates on me at an earlier age!"

Posted by: Rhino40 | December 28, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

If a player gets seriously hurt at the classic due to ice conditions, the NHL is going to get blasted. They better not put these guys in danger just to please fans and make a few bucks.

As for Montreal tonight...they look pretty decent this season. Should be a tough game. I hope the Caps just keep focusing on team play.

I was watching the Detroit game last night, and their PP looked AMAZING! I mean every player on the ice was moving. It seems like the Caps are trying to make the other team move, but it would be better if every player were moving his feet and subsequently FORCING the other team to move.

Posted by: capscoach | December 28, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Why was Aucoin recalled? Thats not good.

Posted by: capscoach | December 28, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

"If a player gets seriously hurt at the classic due to ice conditions, the NHL is going to get blasted. " - capscoach

Uhhhh, you think they really care? Do you remember Verizon Center ice all last 2 years?

The boys are big boys, they will be fine. Plus, from what I hear the players (as in all NHL players) want to play in the Winter Classic. It's a fun thing for them as well.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | December 28, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I think because Perreault is not ready to come back yet.

Posted by: robostop10 | December 28, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

It's been freezing cold and snowy all of December in Pittsburgh - too bad they're predicting rain with a high of 50 on Saturday - just in time for the winter classic.

Posted by: rikkirat | December 28, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

An outdoor rink for a NHL game makes about as much sense as a Formula-1 race through the streets of Rome.

Posted by: mehrenst1 | December 28, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

An outdoor rink for an NHL makes about as much sense as an Indy car track in Indianapolis.

Every hockey fan who grew up with outdoor hockey has tears in his eyes when they see an outdoor game. The players love it.

The NHL OWNS New Year's Day now. College Football fumbled it and the NHL jumped on it. It simply wouldn't be New Year's Day without The Classic!

Posted by: bflorhodes | December 28, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

beer n hockey!!!!!!


Posted by: nall92 | December 29, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

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