MARQUETTE, Mich (WZMQ) – December 2nd, Friday night is the big game NMU vs. Michigan Tech at the Berry Events Center and there’s a lot of preparation that goes behind preparing this ice, in fact, twenty thousand gallons of water worth. Prior to these big game nights, teammates are preparing with warm-ups and getting amped up for the event. With the sound of the buzzer, another important position enters the ice.
“I’ve been doing the ice for northern since the building opened here in 97,” said Zamboni driver Rick Schwemin. Rick has been driving the Zamboni since the Berry Events Center opened back in 1997. These games, although exciting, take a lot of preparation starting at 5 AM to make the ice skatable.
“So we’re filling up hot water into this tank here this water is what’s gonna be coming out behind us”, says Technician Kevin Price. Driving around a machine that weighs over 11,000 pounds, there is a lot of preparation that goes into smoothing this ice.
“Once I got over here and worked with the athletes and the coaches and the fans it just seemed like something that I really was gonna enjoy for a long time”, said Rick Schwemin. Putting down over 20,000 gallons of water heated to over 100 degrees, there is much more to this job than meets the ice. On game days these drivers work over 16 hours to get the ice to the inch-and-a-quarter thickness.
Being a part of the team, these drivers have the responsibility to keep the ice safe for the athletes and raise his family out here with the team, Rick says he couldn’t imagine taking his next chapter anywhere else. “You know I’ll go on the road with these guys and meet their families and it’s just like I’m with my relatives I mean they’re so appreciative of what you’ve done for their sons”.
To catch your next hockey game and cheer on Rick Schwemin as he drives around the ice, click here.