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Winter Classic officially underway

Posted by Kevin Paul Dupont, Globe Staff  December 10, 2009 07:33 PM

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Winter Classic sets up at Fenway

Greetings from Fenway Park, where the NHL's Winter Classic truck, lugging much of the equipment for the Jan. 1 game here between the Bruins and the Flyers, has rolled up to ballpark, just shy of 98 years since the Red Sox threw out their first pitch.

The NHL will hold a media briefing here in about a half-hour, and we'll report back with a couple of updates.

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Weather here: partly cloudy, blustery, 47 degrees Farenheit. With intermittent high winds, it feels more like high 20s or low 30s. A great day for hockey, as Bob Johnson would have said.

How many more days before pitchers and catchers report to The Fort?

Scores of NHL ice-makers, carrying all manner of panels and parts, flooded Fenway's green lawn today, putting in place the primary pieces of the rink that will be built for the Jan. 1 Winter Classic (puck drop 1 p.m.).

''It's fabulous,'' said the league's No. 1 ice expert, Dan Craig, standing along Van Ness St. early in the afternoon when the NHL's Winter Classic truck pulled up next to the old ballyard. ''You look up here and it gives you chills..,.just to be within the walls [of Fenway'], never mind bring a rink [to] it.''

According to Craig, who has been in the ice-making business for over 30 years, his crew won't begin making ice until the middle of next week. A full, firm sheet is expected to be in place by the end of next week.''

Don Renzulli, the league's Sr. VP of events and entertainment, noted that a Spectator's Plaza will be up and running by Dec. 31. The Plaza will be located next to Boston Beer Works, in the parking lot diagonally across Brookline Ave from the Red Sox ticket office.

In the event of rain or a blizzard, Mother Nature could play havoc with the game on Jan. 1. The league has a built-in makeup date of Jan. 2.

There won't be many warm spots at Fenway on game day. According to Renzulli, the concourse behind homeplate, fanning out ostensibly to both dugouts, will be heated. Otherwise, ''It's really like a football game,'' said Renzulli. In other words, be prepared to conduct yourself under Foxborough Rules (sans the tailgating).

According to Renzulli, Yawkey Way will be cordoned off for the game, similar to when the Red Sox play. Fans with tickets to the game will be able to roam freely from the stands to Yawkey Way for food opportunities and the safe haven of space heaters.

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