'Caper Scraper' Mickey McNeil celebrates 40 years of driving the Zamboni at Dominion rink
DOMINION, N.S. -- Mickey McNeil has been the man behind the wheel of the Zamboni at Dominion Rink for 40 years and he's become a bit of a celebrity in the community.
"It's nice when you're grocery shopping or in one of the stores and some little kids will come by and you can hear them saying to their parents 'that's Mickey, he drives the Zamboni in Dominion,'" McNeil said.
Glace Bay Minor Hockey president James Edwards says McNeil is synonymous with the Dominion rink and has been a fixture at the arena ever since he started playing there in 1979.
"He's a guy players look for before hitting the ice," Edwards said. "He knows all the kids by name, and of course all of the kids know him. He's a great guy in the community."
McNeil says it's the camaraderie he enjoys the most.
"It's quite an experience to see people coming into the arena now who were kids 40 years ago, and their parents took them, and now they're bringing their kids here," McNeil said.
Technology has changed over the years. McNeil says when he first started he was driving a Massey Ferguson "tag-along" tractor.
But no matter the equipment, McNeil says the name of the game for him is having good ice.
"It's very important to have good ice," McNeil said. "The hockey player will definitely let you know and they are not shy to tell you the ice is dry or not what it usually is."
McNeil says he's seen a lot here at the rink in 40 years, but he says he never thought he'd be working through a global pandemic.
"Never in my world would I ever think that you would actually have to go in and sanitize the bathrooms and the dressing rooms and wear a mask," McNeil said.
But McNeil faces challenges head on, and he's logged a lot of kilometres in four decades circling the ice.
"I figured out I have driven from here to Vancouver, back to Dominion, back to Vancouver, and I'm almost back in Dominion again," McNeil said.
It's a job that's as Canadian as it gets, and one McNeil hopes will earn him lots of ice time -- for years to come.