There’s plenty of ice at McMahon Stadium.
Not just because of all the hot and cold weather in the city the last couple of weeks, but in addition to the slippery walkways, there is now a rink right at the 50-yard line thanks to NHL facilities operations manager Dan Craig — otherwise known as the ice guru.
“And while he was making ice, we were in the parking lot chopping ice all weekend for Spectator Plaza,” said Don Renzulli, the NHL’s senior vice-president, events.
“Based on all the great weather we’ve had the last few days, we’ve got a lot accomplished.”
None more important to the game than the ice surface, which sits at 11/4-inches thick as of Tuesday evening, ready to be whitewashed before another half-inch or so is added by crews working almost around the clock with sprayers.
“Over the last two days, the build went really well,” said Craig, who started Sunday evening and was back at it at the crack of dawn Monday.
They let the ice temper Tuesday night — keeping it around minus-10 degrees with their inline heating system — but planned on starting the spraying again before the sun rose Wednesday.
It will be ready for skates by Thursday.
“We’ve got a couple of days of nice cold weather coming at us for our night shifts,” Craig said with a grin. “We’ll all enjoy it.”
Shifts are a little more grueling than they were for the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, which took place at Heinz Field on New Year’s Day.
There were two water outlets to work with during that build. There is only one in Calgary.
“It’s just a matter of our guys working long hours,” Craig said. “It’s just a matter of guys being outside a little bit longer at night and us being out a little earlier in the morning.”
With one eye on the forecast at all times.
Short-term, that means flurries and low temperatures.
On game day, more snow could fall. But that’s fine with Craig.
“It says flurries. I think that’s what we want,” said the man who should know what works best for the ice. “A little light snow would be nice.”