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Somebody's Gotta Drive the Zamboni

We profile the crew that works so hard to maintain the best ice rink in the entire North American Hockey League.

All throughout the Olympic games in Sochi about fifteen ice resurfacer operators will be hard at work and we have a crew of men right here in Texoma who know exactly what it takes to get the ice ready for competition.

In fact, the crew at the Kay Yeager Coliseum is known for having the best ice in the entire North American Hockey League.

Dale Morris and Joe Lange, better known as Zamboni Joe, have both worked for the city about a decade. 

The men say they have great jobs if you don't mind the hours.

Dale Morris says, "Our days start out at 7 in the morning and then goes to 10 or 11 at night, just to make sure this ice is ready to go for the games."

It takes 48 hours alone to get the ice in place and that is if they work straight through.

Joe Lange says, "It's a long process you have to get a nice little coat of ice on the floor then we paint it white, about three coats of white and then we go in and freeze that over.  Get about three coats of ice over that, then we start the painting process and it is an all day thing."

Everything except for the logos in the ice is painted by the crew.

Dale Morris:  "Whenever there is an event going on here it is all hands on deck basically.  Everybody is cross-trained to do all the jobs."

That includes driving the Zamboni ice resurfacer.

As players skate they cut the ice, so that is when the machine rolls out and takes out the imperfections in the ice and puts down a new layer of water.

The water freezes on the back side of the machine, so just how difficult is it to maneuver the nearly 9,000 lb. monstrosity?

Dale Morris: "It is very difficult to operate when you first start, but when you have been doing it for a long time it is just like driving a car."

Joe says they usually train folks for a couple of weeks before letting them hit the ice by themselves.

He says once you get your straight lines down it is all about hitting the ice during the games to greet who these city veterans say make all those long hours worth while.

Dale Morris:  "Dealing with the people that you come in contact with just being able to serve the community in that way."

Joe Lange:  "It's great!  I get a lot of high fives when I am driving around the glass... it is pretty neat.  Or I will be out to eat and they say, "Oh you are the Zamboni driver!"  So it is pretty neat.  Everyone loves the Zamboni driver."

Although the ice is very time consuming the maintenance crew has a lot of other jobs as well. 

They take care of everything from making sure the stands are clean and ready for fans to fixing things like the air conditioning units on the roof of the KYC.


 

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