(WGHP) – We are less than a week away from the National Hockey League Stadium Series game in Raleigh as the Carolina Hurricanes host the Washington Capitals at an ice-covered Carter-Finley Stadium. 

The outdoor hockey game will host a sold out crowd of 57,000 at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18. It was also announced that “on the field” seats will be reserved for 1,000 N.C. State students, something that has never been done before. 

The game at Carter-Finley will be the 37th NHL regular-season outdoor game, the first in North Carolina and for the Hurricanes.

Setting up and maintaining an outdoor ice rink

Since the game is taking place outdoors as part of the stadium series, crews are working to transform Carter Finley from a college football stadium to an ice hockey rink. 

The transformation began on February 6 and crews will continue working to maintain the ice even after the puck drop. 

Football fields typically have a slight slope away from the center for drainage which means the first thing crews have to do is cover the field in tarps and construct a level stage out of plywood. This elevates the rink about six inches off the ground. 

Once the stage is built, crews install a built-in refrigeration system that consists of 240 aluminum panels and pipes that circulate around 3,000 gallons of coolant. The coolant helps transfer heat away from the ice, to keep it from melting. 

After installing the refrigeration system, 20,000 gallons of water are used to build several layers of ice. For reference, the average swimming pool takes 18,000 to 20,000 gallons to fill.

This amount is nearly double what is used for standard indoor rinks to ensure extra protection against the weather. The 20,000 gallons of water turns into a 200 foot by 85 foot rink with ice around 2 inches thick. 

Once the construction of the rink is completed, 3,000 gallons of coolant are pumped from the refrigeration truck which is then recirculated through the aluminum panels to keep the ice temperature at 22 degrees. To protect the ice rink against the sun, the NHL often uses inflated tarps and the ice work is done at night. 

Each of these steps helps ensure the ice remains in good condition whether it’s cold or warm. 

The NHL has to be ready for just about anything during their outdoor games, so the ice is set up to withstand almost all weather conditions. 

One of the only conditions that could put a damper on an outdoor game is heavy rain. If it rains hard enough to produce puddles and standing water on the ice, it can be hazardous for the players and could lead to the ice melting.

Puck drop forecast 

Rain is in the forecast on Friday, the day before the game, which is when the two teams are scheduled to practice on the ice. 

While Friday’s rainfall could put a damper on the scheduled practice, the game day forecast is looking perfect. 

Saturday morning temperatures will likely be in the low 30s with afternoon temperatures reaching the low 50s. Sunshine will dominate all day with light winds. 

For those planning on tailgating before Saturday night’s game, be sure to bundle up as temperatures will drop after sunset. Mostly clear skies remain with temperatures in the low 40s by puck drop.