The NHL Winter Classic is an annual regular season outdoor hockey game played on or around New Year's Day. File photo by Tannen Maury/EPA
Jan. 1 (UPI) -- The weather is expected to be so cold for Saturday's National Hockey League's outdoor Winter Classic that the ice will have to be heated.
The Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues are to compete at 7 p.m. EST at Target Field in Minneapolis, where the day's high temperature is expected to reach -2 degrees F, with a wind-chill factor of about -20 degrees.
And it most likely will be even colder when the first puck is dropped.
So mechanics are preparing to make the ice warmer, even though that sounds like an oxymoron.
The NHL explains why: "When the air temperature is above the optimum ice temperature, the glycol and aluminum pans transfer heat away from the ice. But when the air temperature is below the optimum ice temperature, it transfers heat to the ice,"
And the solution: "The NHL has used a custom-made inline heater before to warm the glycol in the pipes on the way to the floor, but here it will use two inline heaters for the first time, one at the refrigeration truck and another in the outfield. The crew can calibrate the temperature to a half-degree."
Fans are being considered, too. The NHL ordered 40,000 hand-warmers. NHL executive vice president of events Dean Matsuzaki said the League is figuring out distribution plans, but if fans need some, they can request them from guest services. Blankets will be allowed.
Weather isn't the only problem irking the NHL. The league has had to postpone nine games, on top of another nine earlier this week. Most of those were related to attendance restrictions in Canada.
The NHL said it hopes to make up those games if and when the attendance restrictions are eased.