An alarm blared at 2:32 in the morning. Dan Craig awoke in his bed in Ann Arbor, Mich. halting what was already going to be a short night's sleep. There was no time to hit the snooze button, only to roll out of bed, both feet hitting the floor and heading off to work.

Craig already knew the source of the alarm: The ice was too cold.

The ice, which covered the football field at Michigan Stadium, technically could have sounded an alarm for being too hot, but the temperature was below freezing and snow was in the forecast. Sure enough, the ice had fallen to 8 degrees Fahrenheit. It was supposed to be 22.

For suffering a sleepless night on the eve of the Winter Classic, Craig had no one but himself to blame.

“I set the parameters where I want it,” he said, “whether it's too warm or too cold.”

Like many, Craig is a man who proudly suffers for his craft. Like no one else in the world, he is the foremost authority on constructing outdoor ice rinks. He'll be responsible for overseeing the Dodger Stadium rink on Saturday, when the Kings play the Ducks as part of the NHL's Stadium Series.

How does one ascend to the station of World's Best Ice Maker?

Craig got his start in Jasper, a small town (population 4,000) in western Alberta, Canada. He was 15 years old when he groomed his first rink for a Junior “B” hockey team.

“I started in the indoor rink,” he said, “but there was an outdoor rink out there as well.”

Jasper is almost too picturesque to be believed: leaves that change to brown and gold in autumn, the majestic Rocky Mountains towering over reflective lakes. The setting seems divined to inspire, and it might be no coincidence that Craig is a self-described perfectionist.

For years, the Edmonton Oilers gained a reputation for having the best ice in the NHL. That was Craig's handiwork. He began honing his craft at Rexall Place in 1987, just in time to cross paths with one of hockey's greatest dynasties.

The Oilers' ice was so well maintained, the league plucked Craig out of Edmonton in 1997 to work with all the NHL stadiums. Craig's actual title is “Senior Director of Facilities Operations,” and he goes from building to building – supervising, monitoring, teaching and advising the resident ice guru at each stop.

Craig is loathe to take credit for his work in Edmonton, or even call it a feather in his cap.

“The feather is the crew that I had,” he said, “and it's the same as the crew that I have here. You surround yourself and encourage the guys.”

Make no mistake, Craig is a rock star. He first took center stage in 2003 when the NHL held its first regular-season outdoor game in Edmonton, the Heritage Classic. The temperature fell to minus-22 degrees Fahrenheit, accounting for wind chill. Craig says he got frostbite on both of his big toes that day.

The NHL staged its first Winter Classic outdoor game on Jan. 1, 2008. The tradition has been reprised every year since, with the exception of 2013 when the league was mired in a lockout. At every game, Craig is thrust into a spotlight he'd rather avoid, taking questions about the intricacies of his craft and meteorological threat levels at each site.

With a thick Canadian accent and a thicker beard, the 57-year-old looks like what an ice maker should look like – that is, not a rock star.

He's also a vampire. This week, Craig and his crew will perform its tedious ice-laying task entirely at night while a tarp shades the rink from the heat by day.

“The number-one thing that our crew is, is patient,” he said. “We are very patient in what we do. Our guys probably won't be getting a whole lot of sleep. I know I won't be getting a whole lot of sleep.”

It's not just this game that keeps Craig up at night. The Stadium Series includes games at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 26 and 29. If the temperature in the Bronx takes any twists or turns during construction in California, Craig knows.

The league scheduled six regular-season outdoor games this year, easily the most ever. Maybe that's overkill or maybe it's a blessing – either way it's a tribute to Craig's work ethic. As soon as the game ends in California, he'll be on a flight to New York for the next one.

The job has already taken Craig to Italy and Japan for the Winter Olympics. Now, most improbably, he's in sunny Southern California. For this ride, he brought along Rob Block, one of his friends and original crewmen going back to their days in Jasper.

“Rob and I talk about it all the time,” he said. “Even today I just said, 'back in 7'74, who would have thought?”