Mr. Freeze

Because Eugene O’Neill told us to stop with “The Iceman Cometh” nonsense….

The NHL’s ice truck rolled into Nats Park this morning, under just the type of delightful balmy winter weather we’re hoping to avoid on New Year’s Day.


The ice truck turns off South Capitol Street on its way to Nats Park.

A nice crowd of reporters and camera crews were on hand to greet the NHL’s ice man, Dan Craig, an Alberta native and veteran of many outdoor rink installations, and his 53-foot mobile ice plant. The 22-wheel truck left Toronto last Wednesday morning for its nearly 500 mile trip to Southeast DC.


Joining Dan Craig for the photo op were Caps alums Peter Bondra and Sylvain Cote. This particular truck built the sheets for last year’s Winter Classic at the Big House (18° f) and the Kings –Ducks Stadium Series tilt last January at Dodger Stadium (80° f). I’m no good at math or weather forecasting, but if we take the mean from those temps, that puts us right around 50°, the high end of Bill Daly’s sweet spot for an ideal surface.


Left to Right: Sylvain Cote, Dan Craig, Peter Bondra

Craig said his crews would begin the hard work starting later this week: positioning the truck, running the pipes & hoses, installing the deck, cooling trays (that circulate the 3,000 gallons of glycol coolant) then finally the boards. They aim for nearly 2 inches of ice come puck drop. A typical arena rink’s ice is 1 – 1.25 inches thick, but the rigors of outdoor play requires a deeper surface.


Dan Craig shows off the ice truck’s refrigeration plant to reporters

The surface will be built up in wee increments during the evening hours, when the temps around the ballpark start to drop. Water is added slowly in a fine mist, and each inch of ice requires 10,000 gallons of water, DC tap water, to be specific. After Craig’s team builds up the sheet, it gets 350 gallons of water soluble paint, lines and logos.

The surface will be under 24-hour monitoring ahead of puck drop with special sensors placed in various spots around the ice. If one spot gets too warm, more glycol is pumped to it. They hope for a uniform 22° across the entire sheet.

Rain is forecast for this Friday, so it’s obvious that Craig and his crew already have their eyes on the weather.




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