On the Job With Ball Arena’s Head Ice Technician

Tony Kreusch is the unsung hero of the ice at Ball Arena.

Tony Kreusch
Photo by Jake Holschuh.

Tony Kreusch has seen over 1,000 Avalanche home games—not one of them from the stands. As Ball Arena’s head ice technician for 23 years, he watches the games from the sidelines, ready to roll onto the rink with his Zamboni at a moment’s notice and smooth any unsettled ice. Backed by a decade of prior experience working at the rink for his alma mater, Colorado College, he recalls his early rides on the mighty machine as daunting. “Back then—this was 1984—all they asked was if I knew how to drive a tractor, which I did having grown up in Beulah, Colorado.” He has since earned his official certificate, helmed Ball’s ice operations and engineering for over two decades, and represented the U.S. as a Zamboni driver at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang. Eager to learn more about Kreusch and the art of ice resurfacing, I tagged along with our photographer Jake Holschuh for the photoshoot at Ball Arena. Here’s what Kreusch had to say:

“Every night we do the same thing but it’s never the same.”

“When there are 18,000 people here, it can change the temperature of Ball and start melting the ice faster.”

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“Zambonis have not changed much since Mr. Zamboni invented them in the 1940s. They need to do three things and that’s it: cut up the ice, scrape it away, and lay more water to freeze over.”

“The ice we scrape up becomes the snowcones at Ball. Just kidding! We recycle it back into our system.”

“When we have concerts or basketball games, we lay a floor over the ice. So really, the Denver Nuggets play on ice.”

“As the driver you control three things: the speed, the water, and how much you cut. That determines what the ice looks like.”

“This is really cool—check out my championship rings. One is from 2001, the other is 2022. During that 21-year gap, sports rings got a lot bigger. Mine are just like the players, with my name on the side and everything— maybe fewer diamonds.”

“It was wonderful to see them win again.”

“When I watch a hockey game, I’m looking to see what the ice does, not the players.”

“We paint the lines on the ice when we create the rink each August. See that blue circle here in the middle? That’s my trademark. Once I paint that in, it becomes a real hockey rink.”

“Before and after the game, we perfect the ice. During the game, it’s all about maintenance.”

“It takes six-point-five minutes for two Zambonis to complete the rink. They go about 7 miles per hour.”

“I hit the wall all the time—you aren’t getting everything if you don’t.”

“If I run over a puck, it damages the machine and makes a lot of noise. But I’ve run over a phone before. Those don’t win. I win.”

“People think my job is easy. But I just make it look easy. It takes years of experience, which is important when 18,000 people with video cameras are watching. Together, my team has over 135 years of experience.”

“If you don’t come to work because you love it, find something else. I feel like a super lucky Colorado kid. ”

“The Avs love my ice.”