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Enter the realtor.com Faceoff, Win a Trip to San Jose to Watch the Sharks!

I’m no Dionne Warwick, but I know the way to San Jose: it’s through a new partnership we’ve formed with the folks from realtor.com.

A few weeks back, they reached out to us to help promote a contest they’re hosting alongside the San Jose Sharks. The premise is simple and the prize is pretty darn incredible, valued at north of $2500. Let’s start with that:

  • Tickets to see the San Jose Sharks in person vs the Capitals on 3/22/2014
  • Airfare to San Jose
  • Two nights accommodations
  • A trip to the practice facility
  • A behind-the-scenes tour of the stadium
  • Locker room access
  • And a meet & greet with the Sharks players
  • Do I have your attention yet? Because as much as those of us in the ‘backyard rink belt’ (read: cold places) convince ourselves we love the frigid temps, who could say no to a weekend out west in the warmth and comfort of the California sunshine? Not I.

    “But what do I need to do in order to enter this contest?”

    I thought you’d never ask. It’s pretty simple, really.

    Starting now and ending on March 13th at 11:59pm, head over to realtor.com/faceoff.

    Once there, you’ll need to answer six photo-based questions. But don’t worry, there’s no math. An example is “Which would you miss more on a road trip”, with your responses being either a palatial bedroom nobody reading this can fathom or a kitchen the size of my entire neighborhood. Click one to choose, then share the photo on Facebook or Pinterest, and BOOM, there’s one entry for you. Answer six of these and you’ll have six entries into the contest. Filling out a contact form gets you an additional entry for a total of seven chances (and, if you’d rather not share any photos, you can just fill out the form for a singular entry).

    A random drawing will take place on March 14th, and the winner will be on a plane due west a week later, hours away from staring at Joe Thornton’s elbow pads and watching Thomas Hertl work on embarrassing d-men at practice. 10 secondary prizes will be given out as well, consisting of five signed Sharks’ jerseys and 5 signed Sharks’ pucks.

    There is some fine print: the contest is only open to residents of the lower 48 states, aged 18 or above at the time of entry. Sorry, Canada. Your gold medal should be enough anyways. For the full official rules, full of beautiful and flowing legalese, visit this page.

    To help get the word out, the Sharks and realtor.com have also given Backyard-Hockey.com a $75 NHL.com gift card to give away. All you need to do is share our post on Twitter or Facebook, then comment below that you’ve done so, and we’ll give away the gift card to a random commenter on Friday, March 7th.

    So share this post, then hit up realtor.com and enter to win the trip. And in case you’re curious, your friendly backyard rink writer CAN fit into a standard checked suitcase. I’m sure you were worried about that.

    Full disclosure: when we signed on with realtor.com to promote this contest, we became a realtor.com Featured Contributor. This mean we’re compensated for our help in promoting this contest. This partnership also gives us the ability to give away prizes like the $75 NHL.com gift card to one of our readers, which we consider a good thing.

    Do I Need Backyard Rink Insurance?

    Like peanut butter and jelly.

    Like peanut butter and jelly.

    It’s a question that pops up now and again, sometimes on the forums, other times in person with rinkbuilding friends or potential EBR customers.

    “What happens if someone gets badly hurt? What if the liner rips and I flood my neighbor’s finished basement? What if my kid rips a shot through the picture window and right into my prized Picasso?”

    All valid questions, and until now, questions I never really had a good answer to. I’d tell them that I had never heard of someone suing over a rink injury, and that for the most part, I considered rinks akin to swimming pools and swingsets, neither of which require specialized insurance. But in the back of my mind, I really didn’t know.

    Curious whether or not I was alone, I posed two questions on our Facebook page back in January: do you have extra insurance to cover your rink, and does your insurance company know about your rink? The responses were overwhelmingly lopsided.

    “I don’t have extra insurance for a rink. Never really thought about it.”

    “No additional insurance and no they don’t know about it. Never really thought to give them a call.”

    “No and no.”

    “Nope and never looked into it. I have not informed my insurance company that I have a rink.”

    In all, of 24 replies, only four mentioned obtaining additional insurance to cover their rink.

    So I set off to find out what we should be doing, reaching out to nearly a dozen insurance agents and brokers in attempt to hear, from their perspective, what we rinkbuilders should do to protect ourselves. One of first agents to reply, as it turns out, is a local (NH) hockey legend. Rene LeClerc played high school hockey in Berlin NH, captained the then-named New Hampshire College hockey team for two seasons, and went on to become a D1 official and hockey coach, spending 11 years at the helm of Manchester HS Central and eight seasons at Southern NH University. He was inducted into the NH Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007. And, conveniently enough for us, he also runs his own State Farm insurance agency.

    His expertise in both realms cemented, I asked Rene the same two questions I asked on my Facebook page. He said that specific backyard rink insurance didn’t exist, but that there was another solution to put the rinkbuilder’s mind at ease.

    “I always recommend to clients that they should have a Personal Umbrella Liability Policy (PLUP), which will provide them with usually $1,000,000 of liability coverage over and above the coverage from their homeowner policy.”

    While you must request an additional PLUP, the policy actually sits on top of your existing auto and home insurance coverage and supplements it should you ever need the additional coverage. So let’s say someone is skating on your rink and seriously injures themselves because you had a ground stake sticking up or a piece of your boards weren’t installed correctly. While the act of skating carries with it an assumption of risk, you could be liable for damages due to due negligence. And if you’re sued, your normal homeowners’ insurance may not cover all the damages. Enter the Umbrella policy. Like any insurance, the hope is that you never need it, but fortunately, relative to other insurance products, it is very affordable.

    “The cost varies but a good example would be in the $150 to $300 range,” says LeClerc.

    Upon hearing this, I contacted my insurance rep. Sure enough, my homeowner’s insurance only covered up to $500,000 for liability. My auto policy covered the same amount. To increase these to $1mil would cost just $216 per year, or a mere $18 per month. I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

    And while I had my rep on the phone, I did something else I had never done before: I told him about the rink. And guess what? He didn’t care. He already knew about the swingset and swimming pool, and while he noted my policy, he said it wouldn’t impact rates and wouldn’t lead to widespread hysteria in his office and an immediate cancellation of my policy. I was relieved at his indifference.

    Mr LeClerc is the one who unknowingly urged me to spill the beans: “Insured’s should never withhold information as it relates to these things. The agent is there to counsel the insured to help protect what they have and if they fail to tell their agents it would not necessarily negate the policy but the coverage may be too little in the event of a major lawsuit.”

    Christopher Gouveia, VP of Charles River Insurance, agrees: “As far as risk of cancellation, although all homeowners’ applications inquire about swimming pools, none that I am aware of inquire about backyard rinks, which tells me that as of now they don’t consider them a factor when determining your insurability. I have never seen a homeowners’ policy cancelled for one, so call your agent and make sure your coverage aligns with your needs without the fear of being cancelled.”

    In other words, there’s nothing stopping you from hiding the rink from your insurance company. But wouldn’t you rather find out that you don’t have enough coverage for your rink (or that they won’t cover it at all) when you’re on the phone with them in June? Or when you’re staring at lawsuit paperwork in February and it’s too late? Some companies may frown upon things like rinks or trampolines (which insurance companies particularly despise), but again, weigh the risks of withholding information. Maybe they won’t cover your rink, and you’ll have to go through the hassle of having to switch to a company that will support you and your backyard recreation. But isn’t that preferable to rolling the dice with your rink-unaware insurer and hoping they’ll be there for you when the crap hits the fan?

    In the end, you need to do what’s best for your family and finances. If only your immediate family skates on your rink, you might be fine. If you’re hosting weekly neighborhood skating parties, you may want to check on your liability coverage. We rinkbuilders often love to go it alone, from the DIY nature of our rinks to the solo flooding sessions under the moonlight. But when it comes to keeping your family and property safe, an umbrella policy is a no-brainer. And heck, it’s cheaper than my liner.

    Full disclosure: my day job is in IT/Finance at a major insurance company, and I buy all my insurance products from them, but did not contact anyone at my company for this article.

    Enter to Win Warrior’s ‘BACKYARD BATTLE’ Photo Contest – Deadline Is Jan 21

    Pailler's winning entry, his 40x90 MA rink.

    Pailler’s winning entry, his 40×90 MA rink.

    A year ago, Mass-resident Steve Pailler was just like you and me. A rinkbuilding dad, he’d schlup the hose out late night, he’d obsess over the conditions and the weather, and quietly and unassumingly do all the things we backyard rinkbuilders do to keep our ice as smooth as possible. Then in early February, Steve, a reader of backyard-hockey.com and frequent contributor on our Facebook page, saw our story about the Warrior ‘Backyard Dynasty’ contest. So he did what many of us did – snapped a pic of the slab he obsessed over, and sent it in.

    Two weeks later, he was no longer just an anonymous rinkbuilder. He was Steve P. from North Grafton, MA, the winner of the first-ever Warrior Backyard Dynasty photo contest. His rink, which started out years ago as a small slab using 2×10′s, evolved into a contest-winning 40×90 beauty.

    “We were so excited to win last years contest,” says Pailler. “What an honor.” An honor it was, considering the caliber of some of the entries. Steve’s prize for winning first place? An unreal package including 20 Warrior Dynasty sticks, a stick rack, Warrior clothing, pucks, and a puck bag. All told, it was worth north of $5,000.

    So, think we can make it two-for-two with backyard-hockey.com readers winning a Warrior contest? Let’s give it a shot.

    This year, Warrior has named the contest after their latest release, and thus, the Backyard Battle is on from now until January 21st. The rules are similar to last year:

    -Entries may be submitted on this Warrior Facebook page from now until January 21st at midnight.

    -Judging (by Warrior) will take place between January 22nd and January 28th. They’ll select 5 US rinks and 5 Canadian rinks to move on to the next round.

    -Fan Voting will take place from January 29th to February 4th, with one US rink and one Canadian rink chosen to win the Grand Prize.

    Speaking of prizes, they’re pretty unreal. From the Official Rules (which you should really read – they’re mostly in non-legal English):

    (1) The Bambini 30-Gallon Backyard Zamboni, five (5) Dynasty AX1 LT OR Dynasty AX1 ST sticks (to be chosen by prize winner at time of the return of the Prize Notification Documents), five (5) pairs Dynasty AX1 Gloves, five (5) Warrior “Fear the Power” jerseys, and five (5) Warrior water bottles, with an Approximate Retail Value (ARV) of $3,295.

    There will be one (1) second prize winner who will win one (1) Dynasty AX1 LT OR Dynasty AX1 ST stick (to be chosen by prize winner at time of the return of the Prize Notification Documents), one (1) pair of Dynasty AX1 Gloves, one (1) Warrior “Fear the Power” jersey, and five (5) Warrior water bottles, with an Approximate Retail Value (ARV) of $520.

    There will be one (1) third prize winner who will win one (1) Dynasty AX1 LT OR Dynasty AX1 ST stick (to be chosen by prize winner at time of the return of the Prize Notification Documents), one (1) Warrior “Fear the Power” jersey, and one (1) Warrior water bottle, with an Approximate Retail Value (ARV) of $320.

    All finalists selected by the judges who do not win a Grand Prize, Second Prize, or Third Prize, a total of six (6) finalists, will win one (1) Dynasty AX1 LT OR Dynasty AX1 ST stick (to be chosen by prize winner at time of the return of the Prize Notification Documents), and one (1) Warrior water bottle with an Approximate Retail Value (ARV) of $250.

    The one (1) Voting Winner who is selected at random from a pool of all entrants who voted during the voting phase will win one (1) Dynasty AX1 LT OR Dynasty AX1 ST stick (to be chosen by prize winner at time of the return of the Prize Notification Documents), one (1) Warrior “Fear the Power” jersey, and one (1) Warrior water bottle, with an Approximate Retail Value (ARV) of $320.

    Not too shabby, if I say so myself. But don’t get too comfy, as the contest ends in just four days. Enter your photos here.

    As for Steve, he’s not letting go of his title without a fight. When I asked him what he’d done differently to his rink THIS year, the list sounded like my to-do list for the next ten seasons: a new rinkside deck, a hot tub, a skate sharpener, and a zamboni. Needless to say, Steve is ready for this Battle.


    ‘On Frozen Ponds’ To Make Debut on January 21st

    1504944_455790434521154_137755370_n3000 miles of travel.

    100 hours of footage.

    6 months of post-production.

    And now, we’re just 7 days away.

    The brainchild and passion project of Elivia Shaw and Dan Fipphen, On Frozen Ponds, is finally here. We first introduced you to Elivia, Dan, and OFP a year ago, when their kickstarter campaign beckoned for the outdoor hockey community to help out. And help out it did, raking in 136% of its $5000 goal (with some generous B-H.com readers among the list of donors). The funded Kickstarter meant that the crew could visit the northeast more than once and drink in all the stories our frozen slabs could tell, with a promise that they would take all the intertwining narratives and weave them into a story.

    That story will be shared with the world beginning Tuesday, January 21st. The end result of many months of unpaid work is a four-part web series hosted on the Pond Hockey Classic website. Viewers will see the leadup to last year’s New England Pond Hockey Classic in Meredith, NH. We’ll meet PHC creator and director Scott Crowder and see his extensive (and stressful) to-do list leading up to a tourney of this magnitude. We’ll also be introduced to several of the teams playing in the tournament, with care taken to bring the viewer not only on the ice for the games, but to the oft-hilarious antics lakeside as well. All the while, viewers will be treated to the masterful filmography of a talented crew, who braved frozen digits to capture all that’s great about the outdoor hockey community.

    To whet your appetite, OFP has released the following teaser. The phenomenal camera work, the music, the quotes…if this doesn’t get you geared up for the four-part series, then I’m afraid we just can’t be friends. So check out the intro, put a note on your calendar for next Tuesday, and like us, OFP, and the Pond Hockey Classic on FB so we can send you the link when the time comes.

    On Frozen Ponds episode descriptions

    Episode 1:
    “Only in New England”

    Meet the teams as they begin their annual pilgrimage to the “best weekend of the year.” Tournament Director Scott Crowder fights warm temps, open water and hundreds of players asking the question, “how’s the ice?”

    Episode 2:
    “Battling the Elements”

    Out on these rinks, the unpredictable ice is “the great equalizer.” The Winnipesaukee Whalers and Peddler’s Daughter take on the Open Division’s toughest teams. Team C3 celebrates the great outdoors while the Essex 73′s relive their glory days. NOG uses their signature libation to get an edge up on their opponents, while the Monday Night Jacks are out to prove that this is their year.

    Episode 3:
    “Beer League Brothers”

    Childhood friends, former college hockey teammates and now beer league rivals, the Winnipesaukee Whalers and Peddler’s Daughter go head-to-head during the first game of day 2. Meanwhile, NOG attempts a crowd pleaser against out-of-towners, the Monday Night Jacks. And Team C3 and the Essex 73’s prove “the older you are, the better you once were.”

    Episode 4:
    “A Classic Finish”

    It’s Championship Sunday and only the strong have survived to determine who will walk away with their name carved on the Lake WinnipeHockey Cup. These guys are battling hangovers, the elements and each other to be a part of Pond Hockey history.

    Montreal Pond Hockey Festival – Team Videos

    Yesterday’s Winter Classic added to a legacy of tight, close games played under the open skies, and further solidified the Classic as a marquee event for the game of hockey. But even more importantly (to us, anyways), it unknowingly marked the official start of pond hockey tournament season. Over the next three months, more than 100 tournaments will be played all across North America, letting buddies get out on the ponds and lakes for a weekend of laughs, fun, and beer. One of these events, and a second-year site sponsor, is the Montreal Pond Hockey Festival. Taking place on Lac Saint-Louis on February 8th and 9th, the tournament sent us these videos along with a clip from tourney director Ryan French McDougall. Take a watch and if you’re in the Montreal area (or want to be for a hell of a weekend), check out the Montreal Pond Hockey Festival!

    The Montreal Pond Hockey Festival is heading into its 4th year of existence and we can proudly say now that we have become a tradition for many of the players who come out to our event.

    From having 15 teams in year one to 53 teams in year three, the growth has been impressive. This year we are well on our way to our 70 team cap and there are still spots left. So if you want to come up to Montreal with some friends, play some great outdoor hockey and enjoy the great night life our city has to offer, get to our registration page quick and get your team in into shape!

    The following videos of our event are a lot of fun to watch and were produced by some great guys from Ottawa, Canada who have been with us since year 2. A big thank you to the Cajun Pelicans (21+ B division) and the Orleans Buffs (40+ B).