Seniors Luke Burton and Tony Forster provide a vital service for the Don Roberts Ice Rink faithful
For many years, Gustavus Men’s and Women’s Hockey teams have put together successful seasons. The combination of skilled players and staffs has propelled the Gustavus hockey program in the right direction, but a look behind the scenes reveals a couple of Gustavus seniors who have lent their time and expertise in helping Gustie hockey become the successful program it is today.
Tony Forster has driven the zamboni and Luke Burton has been the women’s skate sharpener since they were both freshman in 2004. For Forster, driving the zamboni has been more than just a job; it has practically been a lifestyle. Forster has been behind the wheel of zambonis longer than a car. He got his start at the ripe age of 15 in the ice arena of his hometown, Shakopee. To this day, Forster remains a loyal employee of Shakopee Ice Arena despite going to school full time and working at Don Roberts Ice Rink at Gustavus. Earlier this fall, Forster agreed to help out at the Le Sueur Community Center, resurfacing their ice a few days a week. “It got to be pretty stressful. I was working up to 52 hours a week, plus commuting between Gustavus, Shakopee and Le Sueur,” said Forster. “But I love the game of hockey and wanted to give back to the sport that has given so much to me.”
It hasn’t been all fun for Forster through the years, however. Along the way he has encountered his fair share of embarrassing moments. His most memorable story came in his freshman year of college, resurfacing the ice for the first time. “The first game I worked, I didn’t realize that the rink was warmer than usual. When I went out to resurface after the first period I put a lot of water on the ice. Since it was my first `zam’ at a Gustavus game, I was nervous and drove slower than usual. A couple of laps around the ice I realized that there was so much water on the ice it couldn’t freeze. The ice was so flooded that the game was delayed for 15 minutes while the coaches, players and fans stared at me impatiently. It was pretty embarrassing.” Luckily, Forster didn’t give up and has provided over three years of outstanding service.
Similarly, Burton’s experience in hockey started when he was a 15-year-old high school student at Bloomington Kennedy. There he found a job with Westwood Sports, one of the premiere hockey shops in the area. He learned the art of sharpening skates under legendary sharpener, Greg Jeans. Like Forster, Burton has run into several ups and downs. “When I was a junior in high school I was sharpening a pair of skates. After the skates are sharpened, a flat honing stone is used to smooth out the rougher outside edges. As I was quickly running the stone on the blade of the skate, my hand slipped and I sliced the edge of my thumb clear open,” told Burton. “There was blood all over the skates and counter.” It was an accident that resulted in five stitches and a noticeable scar that shows proof of his love for the game.
He claims the incident never held him back from sharpening again. As the sole sharpener for the Gustavus women’s hockey team, Burton has watched the team go 70-10-1 (52-1-1 MIAC) over the past three seasons, including three MIAC championships and two NCAA tournament appearances.
When consistency counts, it is reassuring to have the work of these two men under your feet. You can catch the craftsmanship of Forster and Burton this Saturday at the women’s afternoon playoff game against the winner of Hamline and Bethel; puck drops at 2:05 p.m.
Photo By: Alex Messenger