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RUTH: For the love of hockey

It’s a new year, one full of promise and innovative sensations. But one must wonder if some events are a little too far-fetched – even for 2014.

In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings triumphed over the New Jersey Devils and brought glory to their hometown. In the midst of all of hype, some people in the City of Angels were still unaware that their hometown National Hockey League team even existed.

On Jan. 25, the National Hockey League took on the unimaginable — an outdoor ice hockey game between the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings in Dodger Stadium. My reaction was quite similar to King’s defenseman Drew Doughty—“isn’t it too hot?”

Having an outdoor hockey game isn’t an implausible idea. The Winter Classic, an annual National Hockey League event, has taken place at baseball stadiums in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Michigan since 2008. Of course, all of these locations are quite frigid in the winter.

Flooded — I mean Frozen — Fenway is another annual event that takes place at Fenway Park in which college teams compete against one another on a rink in the infield. This is at the leniency of the elements, especially on Jan. 11, when the event received more rain than originally bargained for. Fortunately, Los Angeles is known for its stable temperatures.

For the NHL, this was the southern-most outdoor game ever played. An outdoor ice rink in the midst of palm trees was the perfect way to weasel the California natives into becoming avid ice hockey fans. But the assemblage of this event was more than simply plopping an ice rink into the infield.

A 53-foot, 300-ton capacity refrigeration unit was needed to construct the outdoor hockey rink. But of course, with big dreams to complete a seemingly impossible feat, it’s not easy being green. This refrigeration unit pumped out 3,000 gallons of glycol coolant into aluminum trays. In order to keep the ice at a glacial temperature 22 degrees Fahrenheit amidst the balmy Los Angeles weather, hoses with glycol coolant that connected the unit to the field chilled the trays persistently. And the fun doesn’t stop there. The ice was gently coated with nearly 350 gallons of white paint before more ice layers were added and it was concealed with an insulated blanket.

An average National Hockey League rink ranges between one to 1.25 inches, but that’s typically for indoor rinks. In order to withstand the unpredictability of Mother Nature, the ice must be two inches thick, which translates to 20,000 gallons of water.

The NHL is overcoming a lot of obstacles to captivate the attention of Californians. Some people might even view this event as crazy. Either way, this game was a sellout and a huge success. While I was shivering in Boston, it was fantastic to watch this attempt to bring the joys of winter to Los Angeles from the comfort of my television.

If an outdoor hockey game can occur in 70-degree weather, anything is possible.

Jennifer Ruth is a CAS junior. She can be reached at jennifervruth@gmail.com

 

 

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