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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Everybody loves the Zamboni at Icecats games

    Tucson Convention Center Zamboni driver Norm Rendfrey rides by fans during the first intermission of the Icecats game against ASU Dec. 8. Rendfrey has driven the Zamboni for more than 20 years.
    Tucson Convention Center Zamboni driver Norm Rendfrey rides by fans during the first intermission of the Icecats’ game against ASU Dec. 8. Rendfrey has driven the Zamboni for more than 20 years.

    In basketball a ball boy quickly mops the floor dry during games, in football someone runs out to grab the kicking tee and in baseball bat boys run after foul balls, but in hockey the Zamboni is a show in itself.

    Between periods of Arizona club hockey Icecats home games at the Tucson Convention Center, the Zamboni – the ice-resurfacing machine, named after its inventor – is at the center of attention.

    “”The Zamboni adds to the whole enigma of the Icecats,”” said Icecats head coach Leo Golembiewski. “”It’s just a neat thing, everyone wishes they can ride on it.””

    The driver, Norm Rendfrey, is a fan favorite between periods as he slaps hands of eager fans putting their hands up to the glass as he drives by.

    “”It takes a special guy to drive a Zamboni,”” Rendfrey said. “”I think you have to be almost crazy, because you don’t just have to drive, you gotta be comfortable interacting with the fans too.””

    Rendfrey has been driving the Zamboni for more than 20 years at the TCC and one day hopes to drive one in the NHL.

    The TCC uses the Zamboni for all of its ice rink events. Rendfrey said he has worked Disney on Ice all the way down to pee wee hockey at the TCC.

    Rendfrey started after two of the TCC’s drivers went down sick and he was asked to step up and drive for a pee wee hockey event.

    “”I was nervous because I had never driven in front of a crowd, but I just took a deep breath and went ahead with it,”” Rendfrey said.

    He’s never looked back.

    The TCC’s Zamboni is about nine years old and is a 1999 model. It has a top speed of 25 mph.

    It weighs about 6,000 pounds and can weigh up to 8,500 pounds when filled with water.

    A 63-horsepower Ford engine sputters the behemoth machine around the ice.

    In the back of the Zamboni is a little trailer where the water and a giant razor are placed.

    The razor cuts up the old ice so the new water can freeze evenly over the ice sheet.

    Every season the TCC goes through about two razor blades, which cost upwards of $200.

    Most Zambonis run on electric or propane engines, but the TCC’s Zamboni runs on basic unleaded gasoline.

    The Zamboni is surprisingly fuel-efficient for such a large vehicle and gets through an average of three games before refueling.

    The inventor of the vehicle, Frank J. Zamboni, started this revolutionary company in Southern California.

    He wanted to speed up the resurfacing time for his ice skating rink in Paramount, Calif.

    He tested it on his ice rink, the historic Iceland Rink.

    Before long the entire country’s ice skating parks were clamoring for his new invention, fittingly named the Zamboni.

    Before his invention it would take more than an hour to resurface rinks, but resurfacing time has since been cut down to 10 or 15 minutes.

    “”Everybody uses the term as a noun instead of an adjective. This just shows that the company Zamboni has become synonymous with ice-resurfacing machines,”” said Paula Coony, head of merchandising and product information at Frank J. Zamboni Inc.

    Zambonis also made frequent appearances in the “”Peanuts”” comic strip, usually driven by Snoopy.

    “”There has always been an infatuation with the Zamboni,”” Golembiewski said.

    So next time you find yourself at an Icecats game, you’ll realize why Rendfrey gets a standing ovation after his last drive on the ice.

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