A frigid evening in Oakville, ON provided a fitting backdrop for the official launch of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic Ice Truck sponsored by York. Toronto Maple Leafs legend Darryl Sittler, a crowd of hockey fans and a scrum of media huddled outside Canlan Oakville Ice Sports on December 10 to get a firsthand look at the one of a kind truck.
The Ice Truck – which contains a 53-foot, 300-ton capacity Cimco refrigeration unit and rink system – will build and maintain an outdoor NHL-calibre rink at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI for the Winter Classic game on January 1, 2014 between original six rivals Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings.
The primary function of the world’s largest mobile refrigeration unit inside the Ice Truck is to remove heat from the ice surface and stabilize the temperature. That process involves pumping up to 3000 gallons of glycol coolant through hoses from the truck into custom-made aluminum trays configured on the field in order to keep the ice surface at its ideal temperature of -5.5C (22F).
Once the ice trays and rink boards are put in place, the next step is making the actual ice surface. Using a spray wand with a fine mist, workers spread water as slowly as possibly to ensure an even freeze. (Normal NHL rinks are about 1-1.25 inches thick, but the outdoor rink needs to be up to two inches because of the harsher conditions. Each inch of thickness requires about 10 000 gallons of tap water.)
The ice surface is then whitened using 350 gallons of water-soluble paint, and the lines and logos are painted and placed on the surface, with more ice built on top.
The last step is monitoring the rink: a 24-hour job using the Eye on the Ice system embedded in the ice surface. The high-tech system monitors the ice’s temperature at various points and send alerts to pump more glycol or engage the in-line heating system if the weather drops too much.
The Ice Truck arrived at Michigan Stadium (The Big House) on December 12 and will begin making the ice for the Winter Classic next week.