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Arena makes quick transition to get pink ice ready

Staff Photo by: Brendan Sullivan The ice operations crew Bob Caswell, bottom left, Glenn Skyles, top left, Juan Enriquez, top right and Ryan Guley paint the Gwinnett Gladiators rink the color pink in honor of cancer awareness at the Gwinnett Arena on Thursday. The ice will be pink for the Gwinnett Gladiators hockey games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The crew used 200 gallons of pink paint to cover the rink with two coats.

Staff Photo by: Brendan Sullivan The ice operations crew Bob Caswell, bottom left, Glenn Skyles, top left, Juan Enriquez, top right and Ryan Guley paint the Gwinnett Gladiators rink the color pink in honor of cancer awareness at the Gwinnett Arena on Thursday. The ice will be pink for the Gwinnett Gladiators hockey games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The crew used 200 gallons of pink paint to cover the rink with two coats.

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Staff Photo by: Brendan Sullivan Ice Technician Bob Caswell, left, and Ice Operations Manager Ryan Guley, mix a 100 gallons of clear pink paint prior to painting the rink pink in honor of cancer awareness at the Gwinnett Arena on Thursday. The ice will be pink for the Gwinnett Gladiators hockey games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The crew used 200 gallons of pink paint to cover the rink with two coats.

DULUTH -- Between the circus and the ECHL schedule, Ryan Guley had less than 48 hours to put in a fresh sheet of ice at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

The transformation started as soon as the last show ended Sunday night and was ready in time for Gwinnett Gladiators' morning skate Wednesday.

It began before the elephants and acrobats were done packing up with the engineering team bringing the temperature of the cement floor down to 16 degrees. Then Guley, the Gwinnett Center's ice operations manager, and his staff got to work on a job that usually takes three days.

"It took a little over 25 hours to get the ice sheet just under and inch thick," Guley said.

It wasn't just building a new surface from scratch. After the Gladiators played Wednesday night, the ice had to be painted pink in time for Friday's game. The Gladiators' fifth Pink in the Rink weekend starts Friday against Trenton and runs through Sunday.

The time schedule was obviously compressed -- it was done in about a day. But there weren't a lot of options.

"This is the only three-day weekend (of home games) and we're done with regular-season home games in mid-March," Guley said. "We were here about two hours after the game (Wednesday) getting the sheet of ice nice and smooth. We started this morning around 9 and it took about 2-2 -1/2 hours to paint. Then we've been flooding it all day.

"This is probably the quickest we've done pink ice. We've usually got a week break to get it done."

In four years, the Gladiators' Pink in the Rink event has raised more than $225,000 for local cancer-related entities in north Georgia. This season, the Gladiators teamed up with The Sport of Giving and the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life as the primary beneficiaries for the three-day event.

Gwinnett plays Trenton Friday at 7:35 p.m.and Sunday at 4:05 p.m. In between, division rival South Carolina is here for a crucial battle at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

Fans can stop by any of the tables on the main concourse to make donations and the Gladiators are featuring commemorative Pink in the Rink merchandise throughout the weekend.

A portion of the proceeds from the annual specialty jersey auction -- set for after the team's final regular-season home game on Feb. 17 -- will also go toward the Pink in the Rink fundraising effort. The players will wear the one-off design jersey featuring a tartan-plaid St. Patrick's Day theme that night and then conduct a live auction.