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The Journal Gazette

  • Tom Miracle

Monday, November 11, 2019 8:00 pm

Fort Wayne-native Miracle of NHL's Lightning dies

BLAKE SEBRING | For The Journal Gazette

North Side graduate and Tampa Bay Lightning ice operations manager Tom Miracle died Sunday night at age 58 after a long battle with cancer.

Miracle started as a 14-year-old stickboy with the Komets, working with coaches such as Gregg Pilling and Moose Lallo. He later went to work for Memorial Coliseum's Vice President of Operations, Bryan Christie.

After moving to Tampa, Florida, in 1994, Miracle was working at Busch Gardens when he noticed someone wearing a Las Vegas Thunder hockey team hat. Tim Friedenberger turned out to be the lead ice technician for the new Tampa Bay arena and hired Miracle for $7.50 an hour on Sept. 6, 1996. The Lightning started their first training camp that month.

Miracle worked 22 years with the Lightning, driving the Zamboni and finishing as the ice operations manager, and he had a Stanley Cup ring from the team's 2004 championship. The Lightning also played in the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals.

"Friends ask me all the time if I'm excited for the finals," Miracle said in 2015. "I tell them that I do the same thing for a preseason game as I can for a Stanley Cup Final, the best i can do. It's just another game to me, and I handle it as such. I do what I have to do, whether its a preseason game or Game 7, and that's all I can do."