The holiday season can be difficult. You have family staying at your place for far too long, a dozen fancy meals to cook, and a seemingly growing number of children to appease. You need to find the decorations, untangle the decorations, put out the decorations, and constantly scream “DON’T TOUCH THE DECORATIONS!” Then there are the gifts. Ties for grandpa, Play-Doh for the kids, gift cards for the teenagers. Yawwwwwwn. Another year, another two-dozen hurried gift purchases that’ll be tossed on top of the pile.
But not this year. Not if I can help it.
If you have hockey people in your life, then you’re going to make this the best. holiday. season. EVER. If you’re like most people, you have no idea what hockey people want. And it’s not your fault — nobody’s ever told you what hockey people want. But I’m about to.
Below you’ll find a handful of the latest, greatest, coolest, interestingest, MOST OUTDOOR HOCKEY-RELATED gifts you’ve ever seen. You will purchase them. And you will blow their minds.
Note – Click the links or photos to be taken directly to a product page.
If you’re buying for the kids…
Ben and Lucy Play Pond Hockey
Hockey kids will love it because of the festive, colorful illustrations and rhythmic text. Hockey parents will love it because it makes bedtime that much easier. Authored by Andrew Sherburne and Tommy Haines, makers of the Pond Hockeydocumentary, Ben and Lucy Play Pond Hockey is the perfect way to introduce the hockey child in your life to the rituals of the outdoor game. See our review here.
Hockey Guys by Kaskey Kids
My oldest got his first set of Hockey Guys back in 2008 when he was two, and now that we have twins, we’ve probably gone through a half-dozen sets (because they travel with us everywhere and we lose some). We’ve also added in their Football Guys, Soccer Guys, and Baseball Guys…as well as their NHL-themed Hockey Guys. This is a great toy to help develop creativity as there are no rules and no structure (kinda like pond hockey!) As a hockey coach, we’ve even brought the whole set up to the tournament hotel and helped explain d-zone coverage. Easily one of my favorite hockey-related products.
OYO NHL Minifigure Backyard Rink Set
It’s a minifigure! It’s a backyard rink! It’s the NHL! In other words…it’s perfect! OYO makes tons of minifigs that work with Lego sets, so this NHL backyard rink kit is only the tip of the iceberg if your little one has a ton of lego sets already. Sidney Crosby against Darth Vader in a game of shinny? MAKE IT HAPPEN. Tuukka Rask stopping Wild Style from the Lego Movie in a shootout? DONE. OYO makes these backyard rink kits for a number of teams, and there are dozens of individual players and team zambonis also available.
If you’re buying for the backyard rink master in your life…
Backyard Ice Rink: A Step-by-Step Guide for Building Your Own Hockey Rink at Home
You didn’t think we’d leave out our own book, did you? Aimed for the new rink builder and veteran rink master alike, Backyard Ice Rink gives you all the tools and tricks you need to put a little slice of frozen heaven in your backyard. Don’t take it from me, check out the reviews too: “Backyard Ice Rink, by Joe Proulx is more than a step-by-step guide to building an ice rink in your backyard. The book will motivate, caution, prepare, and entertain…and convince the reader that the idea of building and maintaining a frozen slab of ice in a backyard is perfectly reasonable and achievable. I have built my own rink for 9 consecutive winters and wish I had as thorough a resource as this when starting out.”
Home Ice: Reflections on Backyard Rinks and Frozen Ponds
I would need four hands to count the rink builders I know who built their first rink as a direct result of this book. Jack Falla was, and remains today, a backyard rink legend. His Bacon Street Omni was a local gathering place, but his books stretched far outside the city limits of Natick MA, and even years after his untimely passing, his words continue to inspire. If someone you know and love builds a backyard rink, they need Home Ice. Simple as that.
A gift card to their favorite rink parts/liner store
This one shows that you think outside the box and truly know your giftee. If someone gave me one of these I’d be psyched that they gave so much thought to their gift. A number of backyard rink parts companies do the gift card thing, and some even allow you to email the gift instantly (if you waited to long to have it shipped). Click here to order a gift card from Nicerink, and click here to order from Iron Sleek. If your recipient orders their liner or parts from somewhere else, inquire about a gift card there!
A New Rink Shovel
It might sound cheesy and practical, but take it from a rinkbuilder – you can never have too many good shovels! I’m partial to the SnowPusherLite, but Amazon and your local hardware store will carry any number of nice shovels. I love the wide ones, and shovels get bonus points when they have rubberized edges to act as squeegees. It may be tough to wrap, but it’s a great gift for someone who really puts the work in maintaining your family’s rink.
The Comet Puck
A neat little stocking stuffer, the Comet Puck is the same size and weight of a normal puck, but uses a replaceable lithium coin cell battery and a tiny LED to create a bright little biscuit. Perfect for rinks and ponds, the puck is slapshot resistant – comet bombs away!
If you’re buying for the pond hockey fanatic…
Pond Hockey: Frozen Moments
The team that brought you the Pond Hockey documentary is back, this time with some coffee table candy. They engaged incredibly talented photographer Nic Wynia and tasked him with taking as many photographs of outdoor hockey as he could. He traveled around North America and when he returned, the team got to work sorting through the shots. The end result is an instant classic, and another outdoor hockey success for the guys at Northland Films. The book ships on December 1st, so show them how in touch you are with the outdoor hockey culture and get them this great new release!
Sniper’s Edge Hockey Pass Master
Chances are your favorite hockey player may already have some sort of passing rebounder. And for the most part, they’re great. What makes this one different? That you can actually use it on ice! Most rebounders attach to shooting pads, which are great for use in the garage or driveway. But on the backyard rink or pond, they’re unusable. Enter the Sniper’s Edge Pass Master. This heavy-duty steel triangle has rubber bands on three sides and removable steel pegs along the bottom for use on actual ice. Bring it to the rink or pond and it’s like having another person on the ice with you.
Have any other ideas? Post ‘em in the comments below!
Mother Nature giveth, Mother Nature taketh away. Such is the creed of the outdoor hockey player and backyard rinkbuilder. And, as Patrick Guerette learned last year, the pond hockey tournament director.
After consecutive blizzards dropped record amounts of snow in New England, the ice on Messalonskee Lake became compromised and Guerette and Co decided to cancel last year’s Maine Pond Hockey Classic.
“Last year was tough, there were a lot of people counting on us to put this event on, from players to volunteers to community partners.” said Guerette. “I personally felt like we let a lot of people down; after all, it’s hard to explain to everyone that you have to cancel a winter event because we basically had ‘too much winter,’ it just sounds ridiculous.”
Guerette and his team regrouped in the spring and planned to not only host the event in 2016, but to make it bigger and better. This year’s event, which will be held on February 12th – 14th at the Snow Pond Center for the Arts on Snow Pond (Messalonskee Lake) in Sidney, Maine, looks to host upwards of 60 teams. To drum up interest, Guerette and his team even produced a series of commercials, seen below.
“We had planned many great improvements to the tournament, a new tournament site [Snow Pond Center for the Arts] with great amenities, beer garden, and off-ice activities. All of the groundwork has been laid for those improvements and we can hit the ground running this year.”
Tournament organizers point out that the Snow Pond Center for the Arts is a great location for the tournament. “When you are hosting players from far away, you want to make sure you think of the entire player experience. This location provides a lot of amenities,” said Bert Languet, Volunteer Director of Event Operations, “we will have lots of parking, drive on access to the ice, and heated indoor space for players between games.” Since inception, the Maine Pond Hockey Classic players has hosted hundreds of hockey players from around the Northeast and even attracted players from as far away as Washington DC and Arizona.
The Maine Pond Hockey Classic aims to provide a festival like atmosphere for players and spectators. The tournament site will contain 6 or more rinks, beer garden, fire pits, food vendors and anything else tournament organizers can add to the mix. “We have plans for a few skills competitions for players between games like shooting and skating drills; we also have plans for leisure games as well,” said Guerette.
The Maine Pond Hockey Classic offers 7 divisions from players of different ages and ability levels; including, Open “A”, Open “B”, Women’s, COED, Recreational, 40+, and a “College” Division. Each division winner will receive a prize pack including complimentary entry to the following year’s tournament, Championship Sweatshirts, and a very unique trophy that features the State of Maine cut out from old hockey sticks. “We like having a trophy that you won’t see anywhere else; besides, it really wouldn’t be a great representation of Maine if we didn’t take something old and discarded and turn it into something awesome,” said Guerette.
The Maine Pond Hockey Classic is an annual fundraising tournament supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA of Greater Waterville. Registration opened on October 1, 2015 for the 2016 Maine Pond Hockey Classic, interested teams must register prior to January 12, 2016. Note that the registration fee increases from $445 to $495 on December 1st. Each team plays three pool play games for seeding followed by a single elimination tournament. Tourney games are played 4 on 4 without goalies or on ice officials, and each team is allowed to have up to 7 players on their roster.
For those looking to get involved with the MPHC, there are several volunteer and sponsorship opportunities available. If interested, please contact Patrick Guerette, Tournament Director, via email at email@example.com.
Note: Each year we partner with a number of pond hockey tournaments throughout North America in an attempt to help them grow and expand their reach. This post is part of that partnership.
It’s been nearly six years since I bought this domain name and started writing about outdoor hockey, and along the way, your comments, emails, tweets, and Facebook comments have kept me going and helped me recognize the tremendous community we have here. And with our new book available in stores and online, it’s time to share the love!
We’re giving away five copies of our new book, one each to five readers. You can enter four different ways, essentially giving you four “entries” into our random drawing at the end of the week.
Visit and like our backyard-hockey.com Facebook page.
Visit and like the book’s Facebook page.
Comment below with the answer to the question: Tell us who you would build a rink for (or if you already build one, tell us about the great people who use it!)
Tweet a message to your Twitter followers!
We’re running this giveaway with Rafflecopter, and you can enter using their application below. The contest runs from today until Friday night at midnight, and books will be mailed next week. Good luck!
It started with an email that quite literally fell in my lap, on Feb 24th 2014. A small MA-based publisher, whose business model is coming up with topics and then finding authors, emailed me and asked if I was interested in writing a backyard rink book. I immediately replied indicating that I was (and that may be a lie – I may have danced around my office first).
What followed was a fun, exciting, exhausting, rewarding, frustrating, and wholly life-changing experience of brain-dumping all I knew about building rinks. I hardly felt (or feel) like an authority on the topic given so many of my friends and online contacts in the niche know more than I do, so I felt a responsibility to adequately represent our community and ensure that my instruction was on point and useful.
I leaned heavily on friends like Brian Falla, who wrote the foreword (by far the best writing in the entire book), and many other friends have helped with the promotion of the book.
I begged and begged again for photos from all of you, who responded in a huge way. I wish I could have included every photo that you all submitted, and hope that at least one photo from each of you was included (alas, things like spacing requirements and resolution played a role).
Even this website has been a victim to this project, something I will absolutely remedy this upcoming season.
And now, 615 days after that first email, there’s a real, live book on the shelves. I’m told by the publisher that the initial print run is 10,000 copies split between the US and Canada. My sincerest hope is that all the knowledge you and the rink community have provided me over the years, which I hopefully have consolidated accurately…that all the encouragement and feedback you’ve given…that all the support from my friends and family…and that all of the photos you all submitted, turns those 10,000 copies into 10,000 new backyard rink families. That was the reason I wanted to write a book, and that’s the legacy I hope this book leaves behind.
About five years ago, while trying to grow the blog, I wrote the About Us page. At the time, I said that “Our primary mission is to grow the game of hockey by speaking freely of our passion, our experiences, and our love for the game.”
This book is simply an extension of that. Thank you all who have played a role in this site, the book, and our community. This book is not the capstone of this site – it is simply a new avenue to spread our love of outdoor hockey and the joys of the backyard rink. Please share the book with your network and help us turn those 10,000 copies into 10,000 new rinks.
Many people have asked me how they can help promote the book. First, I appreciate you asking! I have a few ideas:
-You can also share with your networks. Facebook, Twitter, email…if you know hockey people, please let them know that our book exists.
-Buy it and give it as a gift for the holidays!
-If you have a website, blog, or have a pipeline into any magazines or newspapers, I’d love to discuss promoting the book there. I have copies to give away and would love to work with you to get the word out.
For those looking to purchase, here is some additional information.
Series: Countryman Know How
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Countryman Press; 1 edition (November 2, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
Finally, we will ABSOLUTELY be giving some copies away shortly. I will post again here when we have the details ironed out.
It’s been a quiet year or so here on the blog after we announced we were writing a backyard rink book. Hopefully that’ll pay off soon enough. Just yesterday I received the first version of the book layout in PDF form, and you can see some examples of the layout below. It’s one thing to submit a 20,000-word manuscript and upload a bunch of photos to Dropbox, and it’s another thing entirely to see someone take that and turn it into something that resembles a book.
Of course, because this is only the first draft, there’s more work to be done, and that’s where you come in. To put it very loudly…
WE NEED A TON MORE PHOTOS, AND WE NEED THEM YESTERDAY BY FRIDAY, AUGUST 7TH!
Many of you will be excited to see your photos make the cut, but there were a large number of photos that couldn’t be used because (a) the resolution wasn’t high enough or (b) the images weren’t good enough to be printed in a book. Now we’re not looking for Ansel Adams here, but these need to be quality photos suitable for print. In other words, if they’re from your cell phone camera, they’ll likely be rejected. A filesize of greater than 1mb is a minimum.
What kind of photos? Glad you asked. Here’s what we’re looking for:
Rink Maintenance photos
Rink Disassembly photos
Rink Building photos
Any photos of kids/adults playing on the rink
We won’t be able to print every photo we get, but if you’d like to try getting your rink into our book, here’s what you have to do:
1 – Compose an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 – Put the hashtag #rinkbookparttwo in the subject line.
3 – Paste the following into the body of your email, and fill it out with your information:
Location (City, State, Country):
4 – Add in the following phrase at the bottom of your email:
“I give permission for Joe Proulx, Backyard-Hockey.com, and Countryman Press to use the attached photos in an upcoming backyard rink book. I am the sole owner of the attached photos, and I understand that I am due no compensation for the use of the attached photos.” (Sorry, I hate the legal stuff too).
I really hope this book becomes not only a resource for new rinkbuilders, but a celebration of our community, the hard work you’ve put into your rink, and the memories you’ve made on them. Stay tuned for more book info as we get closer to the early November launch!