A Zamboni driver in Manitoba has been charged with impaired driving and resisting arrest after allegedly crashing into the boards of an ice rink between periods of a hockey game, according to police.
The crash happened during the second intermission of a game involving the Seine River Snipers bantam team in Ste. Anne, Man., last Saturday.
"On his first lap he struck the gate where the Zamboni drives onto the ice, and broke the boards and also broke pieces off the actual Zamboni," said Martin Kintscher, the team's manager. "One piece got stuck under the Zamboni, which left a ridge on the ice with every lap."
Kintscher, who was in the stands, said officials cancelled the game due to the damaged rink, despite being reassured by the Zamboni driver the ice surface was in fine condition.
"He got fairly angry and said that it was fine, and then he was upset that we called supervisors in," Kintscher said, adding he and others in the arena then helped fix and fill the gouges left in the ice.
RCMP eventually arrived and took the operator into custody, according to Kintscher.
Kintscher said they told the teen boys on the team, aged 13 and 14, that the Zamboni driver "had issues."
"There isn't a whole lot you can tell them. For one, we don't know, and we said maybe he is impaired, even though I spoke to him up close and couldn't smell any alcohol on him, couldn't see that his eyes were bloodshot or anything," Kintscher said. "I'm not an expert."
Kintscher added that he initially suspected the driver could've been diabetic and experiencing some kind of health-related issue.
"As far as I understand, he refused the breathalyser, but I don't know anything of what happened after that," Kintscher said. "He was handcuffed in the Zamboni room and walked out."
Kintscher said he has seen beginner-Zamboni drivers make mistakes on the ice as they learned. But the demeanour of this particular driver, considered alongside the nature of the mistakes, is unlike anything he's ever encountered.
"What really set us off was that there was an issue with the ice and he said, 'It's good enough, play on it.' There's ridges on it. You can't play on that. It's like playing out in the parking lot. It's about half an inch high and an inch wide, with every pass."
The Ste. Anne Police Department confirmed a man in his 30s had been arrested and charged with impaired driving, resisting arrest and refusing a breathalyzer.
The man was not from the town of Ste. Anne, the department said.