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Play Maker

Meet the Colorado man (and Avalanche Zamboni driver) responsible for all things ice hockey at this year's Olympics.

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When the 2018 Winter Olympics begin on February 9, several Colorado athletes should be among those seeking gold and glory in Pyeongchang, South Korea. We say “should” because late-January qualifying events and last-minute injuries mean Team USA’s roster isn’t set until a couple of weeks before the games begin. One Coloradan has had his place secured for months, though: Olympic chief ice master and Colorado Springs resident Don Moffatt. Moffatt—a Zamboni driver for the Colorado Avalanche, former NHL referee, and ice technician for two previous Winter Olympic Games—understands the finer points of hockey ice maintenance better than most. He knows the 200-by-100-foot sheet (15 feet wider than an NHL rink) needs to maintain a temperature of around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Too warm and the puck might skim through puddles; too cold and the ice could become brittle and chip under the players’ blades. He also knows the ice needs to be at least four centimeters thick so U.S. forward Brian Gionta can slice through it without fear of it cracking. Fortunately, Moffatt will have a team of 16 experienced Zamboni drivers to oversee the Games’ two stadium rinks, which host as many as three games a day. Of course, if Moffatt and his team do their job, no one will even notice them—and that’s just the way he likes it.

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