THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Nothing - but rain - would dampen spirits

December 10, 2009

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Snow? Not so bad. In fact, encouraged if it’s the light-falling variety that shook its way onto a snow globe-like Ralph Wilson Stadium two years ago as Sidney Crosby closed out the inaugural Winter Classic with a shootout goal.

Heat? Nothing to fear, as the refrigeration system could deal with mid-60s temperatures before the ice is affected.

Cold? More an annoyance than a problem. If temperatures dip below 18 degrees, the ice will become brittle and flake away from skate blades. This could require additional sweeping and Zamboni appearances during stoppages.

Rain? The ultimate bugaboo.

The rink would be able to withstand sporadic raindrops over Fenway Park for the Winter Classic Jan. 1 between the Bruins and Flyers.

“Because of how good the system is, as the rain falls, it could be freezing as fast as it falls,’’ said Dan Craig, the NHL’s facilities operations manager.

However, the refrigeration system would have trouble standing up to heavy showers. If the rain falls faster than it could freeze, puddles could form on the ice. In Buffalo two years ago, snow and deteriorating ice conditions prompted the rink crew to wheel the Zamboni onto the sheet several times per period. But the Zamboni would not be able to tackle standing water.

In the worst-case rainfall scenario, the Winter Classic would be postponed to Jan. 2.

FLUTO SHINZAWA

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