Hours before cold steel hits the ice at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Chicago Wolves players and staff are heating things up preparing for the night's game against the rival Rockford IceHogs.
The staff of about 50 arrive hours before night games to attend a staff meeting and to prepare giveaways and activities for the fans. The Wolves plays 38 home games in the American Hockey League's regular season.
During the hours before the game, there are socks to be mended, jerseys that need logos, and skates that need to be sharpened. Head equipment manager Craig Kogut sharpens over 15 pairs of skates while Dan Mulligan, assistant equipment manager, repairs socks and sews logos on jerseys in team's equipment room. Each of the 28 team members has three game jerseys: for home, road and alternate, along with two pairs of skates at each game. Kogut also makes available 100 new rolls of colored stick tape for each game.
The four-time league champion Wolves players arrive early to tape and paint their hockey sticks, and to get loose for the upcoming game on exercise equipment.
Outside of the arena, television production staff member Mark Stencel checks over 20 video screens for the broadcast from inside the team's cramped television truck.
Back inside, the marquee and scoreboard have been lifted into place and the pyrotechnics team pushes their fireworks into place. The arena is finally ready for the puck to drop for another Chicago Wolves hockey game.