Recounting the Best Zamboni Stories in Crimson History

Published by Michael D. Ledecky on January 16, 2013 at 10:12PM

Today, Google is celebrating the 112th birthday of Frank Zamboni, the Italian-American inventor of the ice -resurfacing machine that bears his name, with an interactive doodle. Zamboni filed a patent for the "Model A Zamboni Ice Resurfacer" in 1949, 51 years after Harvard played its first intercollegiate game versus Brown. While The Crimson does not seem to have the Zamboni's Cambridge debut on record, the ice resurfacer's name has appeared in more than 70 Crimson articles. Many of these references are merely corny figures of speech, such as "Zamboni-sized goose egg," "Zamboni-sized thighs," and "Zamboni of the mind," but the Zamboni has enjoyed a colorful history at Harvard. Here are the top three Zamboni-related Crimson stories to celebrate its creator's birthday:

3. December 5, 1973: Zamboni-induced ditch foreshadows Dartmouth comeback

A Zamboni stalled in the middle of the ice during the second intermission of a closely-contested Harvard-Dartmouth men's hockey game at the Crimson's old home, the Donald C. Watson Rink. In an effort to get the ice resurfacer moving again, the Zamboni driver revved up the engine, which released ice-melting exhaust that created a substantial ditch in the rink. Before the third period's opening faceoff, the two teams agreed to trade sides of the ice 10 minutes into the final frame so that each team defended the defective area of the ice for an equal amount of time. While there is no indication that the ditch affected the game, the Big Green mounted a third period comeback, scoring two unanswered goals to win, 5-4.

2. Jack Kirrane, Zamboni driver and Olympic gold medalist, retires

Jack Kirrane served as the Bright Hockey Center's rink manager for 15 years. Before that, he was the captain of the U.S. Olympic hockey team. Kirrane led Team USA to its first Olympic hockey gold medal at the 1960 Games in Squaw Valley, Calif. The defenseman notably played alongside ‘Miracle On Ice’ coach Herb Brooks, who was cut from the U.S. Olympic roster a week before the 1960 opening ceremonies. Kirrane also served 38 years in the Brookline, Massachusetts Fire Department, and he was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987. But he may be best remembered by Crimson hockey fans as the Zamboni driver.

1. November 5, 2000: Two Zambonis go up in flames

Well, not quite. One of Harvard's Zambonis appeared to catch fire before a Sunday afternoon women's hockey game against Minnesota. Despite a smoky Bright Hockey Center, the game could have started on time, but the Crimson's backup Zamboni also malfunctioned, apparently leaking battery acid or antifreeze onto the ice. After Harvard obtained a replacement Zamboni from the Massachusetts District Commission ice rink, the Crimson and the Gophers were able to play two days later. Unfortunately for Harvard, the Curse of the Zamboni struck again as Minnesota erased an early deficit to win, 3-2.