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NHL Winter Classic officials battle December warmth to maintain ice rink at Gillette Stadium

Dry and chilly weather is forecast for the 2016 NHL Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens on Friday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

The annual outdoor event has, with the exception of one game, been a New Year's Day staple since 2008 when the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in a snowy contest at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

Bruins and Canadiens fans planning to attend the game will not have to worry about messy weather causing travel disruptions or postponements to the game. The puck is scheduled to drop at 1 p.m. EST.

"Chillier air will arrive at the end of the week, but temperatures are expected to be slightly above normal on Friday," AccuWeather Meteorologist Jordan Root said. "The air temperature at the start of the Winter Classic is expected to be around 40 F. While there will be some clouds around Thursday and Friday, it will likely remain dry both days."

A normal high for this time of year in Foxboro is in the upper 30s.

Dan Craig, the NHL's senior director of facilities operations, told the Bruins' website that the perfect temperatures for the game would be between 26 to 28. Even if temperatures reach around 34, the conditions would still be fine.

"If you're a little bit warmer, that's not a problem," Craig said. "We've got all the refrigeration and package we need to freeze everything solid, and we have an aluminum floor, which is the most efficient floor that we can have."

Temperatures are expected to settle in the upper 30s by the end of the game, Root said, adding that there will be a stiff breeze from the west reaching 10-20 mph.

Despite recent stretches of heavy rain and warmer-than-normal weather, the rink is still on track to be ready for the game, NHL.com reported. Temperatures have averaged about 12 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the month of December.

"We had so much rain we couldn't keep up with it; it was so warm," Don Renzulli, the NHL's executive vice president of events, told NHL.com. "But we caught up with it because we were working overnight shifts and they're in good shape right now."

Temperatures for previous Winter Classics have been higher than those forecast for Friday. On Jan. 2, 2012, the New York Rangers defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The high that day was 49.

The only time the Winter Classic was played at night was in 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh when the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1. The game was moved to the evening after rain was forecast earlier in the day. The average temperature on that date was 49.


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kevin Byrne at Kevin.Byrne@accuweather.com, follow him on Twitter at @Accu_Kevin. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.