When the Tri-City Americans aren't in action, the ice at the Toyota Center takes a backseat to the arena next door.
KENNEWICK, WA - When the Tri-City Americans aren't in action, the ice at the Toyota Center takes a backseat to the arena next door.
Billy Moffett is the manager at the Toyota Arena. The job comes with plenty of responsibility, but there's one task in particular that would have any hockey fan jumping at the opportunity to have his job.
"I've been working, driving the Zamboni off and on, for the last 13 years,” said Moffett.
That's right, Billy is a Zamboni driver; he operates the machine that resurfaces the ice between periods. Billy played hockey as a kid, and it's the Zamboni he remembers most about those childhood games; he never thought he would make a career out of it though.
"You're the machine that goes out in between hockey games-you make the ice pretty, said Moffett as he explained the job in simply terms. “That's how I explain it to my 5-year-old niece…I make the ice pretty."
But there's a lot of work that goes into "making the ice pretty.” Operating the massive machine can be a challenge.
"You have to multitask very well,” said Moffett. “You have to know your surroundings, what's going on around you because one little slip up and you can go into the boards, you can cut too much, cut too little, use too much water. You could have a leak out there or you can have what looks like dry ice-it takes a lot of practice."
Zamboni drivers at the Toyota Center & Arena can resurface the ice in about 8 to 10 minutes. They like to keep the ice between ¾ of an inch to 1 inch thick and, of course, the goal is make sure the ice stays smooth and as leveled as possible.
There’s one thing you don’t want to do while behind the wheel of a Zamboni and that is to stop on the ice.
"If you stop on the Zamboni, you will melt a hole in the ice,” explained Moffett.
So maybe with time, practice and a little bit of patience, you too could have “the coolest job in the world."
Plus, the next time Martin Zeller's “Zamboni" song plays at the hockey game, you could say, “I know how to drive the Zamboni.”
The Toyota Arena offers two classes per year on how to operate a Zamboni. It's first-come first-served and is limited to only a handful of people. For more information just call the Toyota Arena and ask for Billy.