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Google doodle lets hockey fans drive the Zamboni

Interactive doodle game honors the 112th anniversary of the birth of Frank Zamboni Jr., inventor of the famous ice resurfacer.

Google's Zamboni doodle honoring the inventor of the famous ice resurfacer. Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

Google is helping the National Hockey League begin its abbreviated season.

The NHL's 48-game season will begin Saturday after a 113-day lockout, but the Web giant apparently recognizes that the ice will need some TLC before players can skate to their opening face off. So Google is rolling out a Zamboni doodle to clean things up.

The interactive doodle begins by launching a skater that scratches up the ice. A Zamboni ice resurfacer then appears that Web users can, using their mouse, manipulate through a series of tests to clean the ice.

The Zamboni pilot gets points for cleaning markings from the ice, but he or she must complete the challenge before the Zamboni runs out of fuel. The Zamboni can refuel by picking up gas cans, as well as earn bonus points by picking up ice cream cones.

The icy doodle, which just went live in Australia, is reminiscent of the events-themed interactive doodles Google launched during the 2012 Olympic Games.

While fans are happy to see the season finally start, the primary purpose of the doodle appears to be to honor Frank Zamboni Jr., inventor of the ice resurfacer, who was born 112 years ago Wednesday. Zamboni developed the first ice resufacer in Los Angeles in 1949, turning a task that took three people 90 minutes to complete into a job one person could dispense with in 10 minutes.