Even if you never played hockey, it’s hard to imagine a kid who hasn’t once dreamed about driving the Zamboni around the ice. There was something fascinating about the oddly shaped ice resurfacing machine that glided effortlessly around the rink between periods. The mystery of the Zamboni and it’s magical ice smoothing power sticks with a child, and the strange allure of wanting to drive it never fades.
Over time, “driving a Zamboni” usually becomes one of the many childhood dreams that never come to fruition, like going to space or becoming a NBA all-star. Eventually, you start to realize that “driving the Zamboni” is similar to mowing the outfield grass of a baseball field. Riding mowers were cool as a kid too, but mowing the lawn is never mistaken for being a fun activity. Now imagine you are 34 years old, cutting the ice between periods of a PeeWee hockey game for some extra cash a couple times a week, probably wishing you never got that Zamboni Power Wheels car as a kid. The once magical ice chariot has lost its luster, and you’re barely making rent. I bet you’d start drinking too.
Spectators, hockey players and parents pressed against the ice arena’s glass Monday night, watching as a Zamboni driver at the Hayes Arena in Apple Valley, Minn., weaved across the ice erratically and smacked the machine hard against the boards.
About 25 minutes into what should have been a 10-minute job resurfacing the ice, the driver — a part-time employee of the city of Apple Valley — tried to maneuver the unwieldy machine into the arena garage. By then, coach Bryan Dornstreich had called 911.
Officers arrested the 34-year-old Apple Valley man operating the Zamboni for allegedly driving while intoxicated. He failed field sobriety tests and was taken to police headquarters for a blood-alcohol test. The sample was sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis. Test results were unavailable Tuesday.
According to reports, Joel Bruss was considered a good and dependable employee. I have no clue if he ever dreamed of driving the Zamboni as a kid, or anything about his life for that matter, except for the fact that Bruss is now facing the possibility of a fourth DWI — his first on a Zamboni. I’m sure state-mandated AA classes probably aren’t the way most people imagine their Zamboni dreams ending.