By Michael Abeyta

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – The Colorado Avalanche will be taking to the ice outdoors Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs as part of the NHL Stadium Series. And thanks to a few recent snowstorms in Colorado Springs area, there’s still a lot of snow and ice at the academy. Despite the recent cold snap, crews from the NHL have been busy all month making more ice for Saturday’s special hockey game.

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To create ice that you can play a professional hockey game on takes some skill and knowledge.

“Building ice takes a long, long time,” says Mike Craig the Senior Manager for Facility Operations with the NHL. He says getting Falcon Stadium changed from a football field to an ice rink takes a lot of work.

“There are hundreds of people that are involved,” he said.

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While crews were hard at working transforming the stadium on Wednesday, dozens of kids got a tour hockey fans dream of. The NHL and NHL Players association gave students from Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Colorado Springs a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to put on a professional hockey game outdoors.

“You could only do this once in your lifetime,” says student Jace Mathenia “We learned how the players get ready. We learned how they make the ice online and then we saw it come to life.”

It’s part of the NHL/NHLPA Future Goals Program; An online course that teaches kids how science technology engineering and math is used in the NHL. Wednesday the kids got an up close look at how they make the ice for the rink the players will play on Saturday.

“It felt really cold and wet and slippery,” said student Isabella Sinclair. She and her classmates were impressed by how much work was being done.

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“I think they do a good job,” said Jalen Pack.

As if the tour wasn’t enough, before the students left, the NHL gave them a parting gift.

“We have tickets for all of you guys,” said Craig, pulling out a handful of tickets for the students and their parents.

They weren’t just tickets to the game on Saturday but also tickets to an Avs indoor game at the Pepsi Center in Denver. That way they can see the finished product in action.

“It’s really exciting to see how excited they are,” Craig said.

After a tour like this and free tickets, it’s no surprise that the NHL created a bunch of new hockey fans.

“I was thinking of taking my mom because my mom is a pretty good hockey fan,” said Isabella.

This is the second time one of the NHL’s outdoor games is being played at a military service academy.

Michael Abeyta


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