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NHL CREW BEGINS CONVERTING RALPH WILSON STADIUM

Wednesday, 12.26.2007 / 9:39 AM / 2008 NHL Winter Classic News
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NHL CREW BEGINS CONVERTING RALPH WILSON STADIUM
Fighting heavy wind and blowing snow, NHL work crews completed the initial phase of converting Ralph Wilson Stadium into a hockey rink for next week's Winter Classic outdoor game.

"The process of building the ice has begun," NHL spokesman Jamey Horan said Monday. Crews spent the past 24 hours surveying and protecting the field, unloading equipment and establishing refrigeration lines in preparation for the Buffalo Sabres' game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Year's Day.

The game will be the NHL's second played outdoors, and first in the U.S. after the Oilers played the Montreal Canadiens at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium on Nov. 22, 2003.

The field's conversion began within hours of the final whistle of the Buffalo Bills' home finale, a 38-21 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday.

Crews began by removing the goal posts, and laying large tarps, held down by wooden boards, to protect the field. The initial work was completed despite wind gusts of over 50 kilometres per hour and a steady and sometimes blinding snowfall.

The wind posed a near-dangerous problem on Sunday night.

With workers standing nearby, a heavy gust picked up one of the tarps - 30 yards long and covering the width of the football field - and lifted it into the stands of the east end zone. Several workers managed to duck beneath the tarp in time, and nobody was injured.

Numerous all-terrain vehicles and golf carts, as well as one SUV, were driven out on to the field to provide additional weight to hold down the tarps.

Horan said the next step is levelling the field, which is crowned, to begin erecting the temporary rink.

Organizers, who plan to work round the clock, hope to have the rink built by Wednesday and begin making the ice a day later. The two teams are scheduled to practice at the stadium next Monday afternoon.

The game has been sold out since tickets first went on sale in September. The 42,000 tickets made available to fans were scooped up within half an hour. In the event of bad weather, the NHL has the option of postponing the game to Jan. 2.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82