RHINELANDER - Chris Sandstrom knows that, like hockey, his task is all about precision.
"Trying to guess this doesn't work too well," said Sandstrom, kneeling on the ground at Rhinelander Ice Arena on Tuesday morning.
Sandstrom and a small crew have spent the last two days carefully preparing every inch of the rink.
"You can't make a mistake. If you make a mistake, it can't be redone," he said.
In a few weeks, this winter's hundreds of hockey games on the ice will start.
But first, Sandstrom and other volunteers need to create the perfect surface.
On Monday, they transformed the arena's gray concrete floor to an icy white layer, using powdery paint and freezing mist.
They spent Tuesday putting in the faceoff circles, hashes, and lines.
"We have kind of like a cray paper-like material. We put it down, then we freeze it into the ice. [It's] a lot of measuring, a lot of making sure it's in the right spot," said rink manager Brett Aylesworth.
Dozens of rounds of misting, followed by a Zamboni finish, will have the ice slick and sparkling by the end of the week.
"It looks fabulous, like an NHL rink," Aylesworth said.
He takes pride in having a professional arena.
"We have 60, 70 teams from all over the state that come to our tournaments in January," Aylesworth said. "The main product for hockey is ice. The better product you can give them, the more likely they are to enjoy it and come back."
Sandstrom himself keeps coming back each fall, working to create that precise ice.
"By giving them an awesome sheet of ice...and you know you had a role in that, it's awesome," he said.
The first youth games will hit the ice at Rhinelander Ice Arena in two weeks. High school practice starts in November.