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NBC Bay Area
Bruce Tharaldson makes driving the Zamboni at the Shark Tank sound like a breeze. "It's just like NASCAR, you drive around in circles and then you pull off the ice."
"Everybody in the organization feels a little more pressure but you're basically giving the same thing, "Tharaldson said, "You're bringing your 'A' game throughout the year."
Tharaldson's been driving the Zamboni for the Sharks for all but two of the years the team has been in the Bay Area. In this series, Tharaldson is paying particular attention to another Zamboni driver -- make that former Zamboni driver -- Antti Niemi, the Blackhawks goalie who many say cost the Sharks a game one victory on Sunday afternoon. Before he was stopping goals in the NHL, Niemi was driving a Zamboni to pay the bills.
"He played well, I thought the Sharks should've won that game but once in a while you're going to run into a red-hot goaltender," Tharaldson said.
Niemi's not likely drawing on his ice-grooming experience as he defends the Blackhawks goal. Though there is an art to it. "It should be nice and hard and fast," Tharaldson said, "I just try to give them the best conditions that we can possibly give them and hope that translates into victories."
But if it does, Tharaldson doesn't want any credit.
"No, I don't want anything for the defeats either." Tharaldson said. "I just hope they keep playing all the way into June. I really think this is their chance. I mean, they have the right chemistry right now and they have some players that are going to step up and I think will surprise us."
Though Tharaldson's demeanor is as cool as the ice he grooms, just for a second he warmed up and said, "Everybody's just going crazy, I mean this is the best time of year!"