Winter Classic: Notre Dame Stadium Hosts NHL Hockey

Happy New Year’s Eve!! As you prepare for parties and ring in the new year, the NHL is putting the finishing touches to Notre Dame Stadium. The Winter Classic is just about here. Monday, the rain forced both the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins in Compton Family Ice Arena. Both teams hoped to get onto the manufactured ice surface but, Mother Nature had other ideas. Mother Nature had done her part up till New Year’s Eve. Rain on New Year’s Eve is better than rain on New Year’s Day.

It’s A Process

Prior to getting an actual playing surface, there is a lot that goes into setting up an outdoor playing surface. Mike Craig, NHL Senior Manager Facility Operations and Hockey Operations met with the media on December 19th and discussed the process.

The magic starts with a 53 foot truck that is responsible for the pumping of approximately 3,000 gallons of glycol from the refrigeration rig through the
piping that is actually run from the outside of the stadium to the field level. Glycol as a cooling agent brings the surface temperature to approximately 22 degrees Fahrenheit. The aluminum trays on the raised platform set the cooling.

After the glycol is piped in place, the three-foot high rink boards are installed. After the boards are installed and in place, the making of ice begins. An outdoor rink, requires up to two inches of ice to help in the fight of the outside weather conditions. Water is added slowly in a fine mist to help create an even playing surface. Each inch of ice thickness requires approximately 10,000 gallons of water. There is nothing special about the water, it’s tap water you use at home. It is just processed to remove the impurities.

After the ice layer is made, water soluble paint paint is used to make the lines and logos and more ice is applied on top. “The process of setting up the ice takes about 12-14 days and then it’s ready for practice.”

Pre-Winter Classic Press Conferences

Patrick Kane

Patrick Kane if he was an Irish Football fan at all? Patrick’s response, “I wasn’t really a Notre Dame fan but people on South Buffalo were Notre Dame fans they loved it. They would make trips up here to see games, people would walk around with Notre Dame hats and shirts.” He was then asked if he planned on attending college. Patrick’s response was actually quite surprising with a Notre Dame connection. “I considered college, when I was in college Coach Jackson called me and the first thing he asked me was, How were my grades. So, I knew I wasn’t coming to Notre Dame after that.”

Colin Delia

Colin Delia is 3-0 in his last three starts. He is also playing with high confidence. I asked him about is there a feeling when you walked into the stadium, that you are walking into a place with so much history? Colin’s response “i wasn’t privy to all that before hand. I know there’s a great deal, just to see this arena in general is pretty special, Touchdown Jesus, the campus is just beautiful, and to just be in here (Notre Dame’s locker room) is very special.”

Head Coach Jeremy Colliton

Coach Colliton has only been the Head Coach of the Blackahawks since November 6, 2018. I asked him being from Chicago, it’s only an hour and a half bus ride from Chicago to South Bend, you’re going to have a home team crowd here, hows that going to help the team out? Coach Colliton’s response “It won’t hurt. It’s extra energy, extra juice, we want to be flying out there and I am sure everyone’s going to have a lot of energy and enthusiasm, it can only help, it’s going to be a lot of fun for them and for me.”

Some Winter Classic Facts

2 – The 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® at the University of Notre Dame will be the second NHL Winter Classic played on a college campus (2014, Toronto at Detroit, Michigan Stadium, University of Michigan).

53 – Length, in feet, of the world’s largest mobile rink refrigeration unit, specially built for outdoor games conducted by the NHL.

84 – Number of Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey players drafted to the NHL, including four Stanley Cup Champions; Bill Nyrop (1976, 1977, 1978 with Montreal), Don Jackson (1984, 1985 with Edmonton), Ian Cole (2016, 2017 with Pittsburgh) and Bryan Rust (2016, 2017 with Pittsburgh) according to University of Notre Dame Hockey.

101  As part of the countdown to the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® Mike Craig, NHL Senior Manager of Facility Operations, hosted an Ice Making 101 field trip for students from Chicago’s Funston Elementary School as partof the NHL & NHLPA’s Future Goals program, an Industry Growth Fund initiative. The students saw the STEM Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) concepts they are learning in the classroom come to life during the Dec. 19 field trip at Notre Dame Stadium.

129  On New Year’s Day, Section 129 (as well as section 19) of Notre Dame Stadium will feature a signature dish — House Fried Pub Chips, with jalapeno cheese, barbecue pulled pork, pickled onions, scallions, barbecue sauce, all served in an Irish Gold Painted Hockey Helmet.

The puck will drop at 1 PM EST and can be seen on NBC.

ND GameDay has a link of good to know information prior to arriving at the stadium on Jan 1. Click here for the details.

Shake Down The Thunder Sports would love to hear back from you