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Crowder’s Pond Hockey Classic Acquires Big Apple and Philly PHC

City Series LogoWhen I say “pond hockey scenery”, no doubt you think about wide open skies, naked trees swaying in the breeze, and beer-can-speckled snowbanks around frozen lakes and ponds. And for most major pond hockey events, including the three run by Scott Crowder, you’d be right. Whether they’re run on Meredith Bay, Lake Champlain, or Foys Lake in Montana, each features hockey action on a postcard-quality backdrop of winter bliss. But with this morning’s announcement, you can add a slightly different backdrop to the stable of PHC events: taxi cabs, skyscrapers, and the Liberty Bell.

As of this morning, Crowder’s Pond Hockey Classic events have expanded to five after acquiring the Big Apple Pond Hockey Classic and the Philly Pond Hockey Classic. Built by entrepreneur and New Yorker Grant Hewit, the BAPHC and Philly PHC were an innovative attempt to bring the beauty of pond hockey to two big cities on the east coast. And by all accounts it was a rousing success. A success that Scott Crowder couldn’t overlook.

“We are dedicated to outdoor hockey here at the PHC.” said Crowder, PHC Commissioner. “We have seen these two urban tourneys generate a great following and offering a unique opportunity for players to get outside and play some hockey. Nothing is better than lacing up the skates under an open sky and now we get to offer this opportunity deep in the heart of a big city setting.”

The eventual goal is to launch a larger City Series, with urban pond-style tournaments taking place in other locations. Says BAPHC founder Grant Hewit:

“We’re thrilled to bring our two events into the Pond Hockey Classic tournament group. Playing traditional pond hockey in a city setting is a one of a kind experience that only a City Series tournament can provide. This combined with the resources that Scott and his team bring to the table, we’re confident the player experience in both Philly and New York City will be better than ever.”

The dates of the Philadelphia event are January 9-11, with the New York City event taking place February 27-March 1. Because the events are played on outdoor rinks, they’ll be 3-on-3, with teams limited to 6 players. Divisions will be limited to Open and Shinny variations.

A pre-registration will take place for prior BAPHC and Philly captains on November 12th, with the full registration going live on November 17th, both at noon EST. For more details, visit the Pond Hockey Classic website.

USA Hockey Launches Jack Falla Junior Reporter Essay Contest

Jack Falla, a man synonymous with so many things we hold dear – hockey, backyard rinks, writing, breadsticks – is the inspiration behind a new contest being held by USA Hockey. The Jack Falla Junior Reporter Essay Contest, launched recently by the US’s major amateur governing body, asks kids to submit a game recap, article, or blog post about themselves or their teammates. Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges, and finalists will be read by ESPN anchor (and backyard rinkbuilder) John Buccigross, with one winner being featured in the December 2014 issue of USA Hockey Magazine.

The deadline for the contest is November 5, 2014. Entries must be mailed to essay@usahockey.org, and to keep with the spirit of being a ‘junior’ reporter, all submissions must be written by a USA Hockey-registered player age 18 and under.

Lake Morey Resort Brings Youth Pond Hockey To Vermont

Close your eyes and picture the scene. It’s a cold February Saturday. The cloudless blue sky and bright sun beam down onto a small lake, bespeckled by a half-dozen outdoor hockey rinks. On the rinks, red cheeks huff and frozen vapor puffs as skates and sticks combine to make hockey’s unmistakable percussion. Fans ring the rinks, cheering on goals and shouting encouragement. In the snowbanks, juice boxes await the postgame…

Wait, what?

You read that right. For the players in this unique tournament, the postgame beer is still a decade or more away. The tournament in question is the first annual New England Youth Pond Hockey Jamboree, and it’s taking place February 21-22 at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, Vermont (USA). Sound familiar? It should, as Lake Morey is the home of the Vermont Pond Hockey Championships. And the latter tournament played a big role in the Jamboree’s existence.

“Several of us coaches have been playing in the Vermont Pond Hockey Championship at Lake Morey Resort for the last four years,” Rich Wood told Backyard-Hockey.com. Wood, a professor at Springfield (MA) College by day, is one of nine volunteers from tournament beneficiary Wilbraham Twin Meadows Youth Hockey Association who is helping put on the event. “One of the nights up there we thought ‘we should do this for the kids, they would love it.’”

One unique aspect of the event is that there will be no winners or losers, with the focus of the tournament on the experience itself, and not necessarily the outcomes of the games. Wood and Co are calling it a jamboree, and it’s as much a celebration of the outdoor game as anything.

“Adult pond hockey tournaments are exploding in popularity all across North America, but there are very few options for kids to experience this great version of the game,” says Wood. “We wanted to give youth teams the opportunity to enjoy a weekend of pond hockey. This is an event about the joy of outdoor hockey, not about winning a trophy.”

To that end, the event will feature more than just on-ice fun for the players. The plan is to use Lake Morey Resort’s beautiful property to have sleigh rides, ice fishing, big screen movies, and more. Lake Morey Resort also maintains one of North America’s longest skating trails around the lake, which will be open for use during the tourney.

For its first year, the group is hosting Mite, Squirt, and Peewee age groups, with a plan to expand to Bantams in future years. Interested teams can visit the event site at http://www.youthpondhockey.wtmhockey.org or email neyphj@gmail.com.

The event is also seeking sponsors, with packages starting at $200 and exposure both on the event’s website and throughout the property at the event. Email the address above for more information.

So far the initial response has been great, and while youth pond hockey is still in its infancy, Wood is optimistic. “We are ecstatic about the response we have gotten to date, so we see a very bright future for this event. We also envision the “jamboree” aspect to grow considerably with more hockey nostalgia every consecutive year.”

So juice boxes in snowbanks? Hey, it might become the new postgame beverage of choice.

We’re Writing A Backyard Rink Book!

Well, I guess I just gave it away now, didn’t I. Forgive me for being a little excited.

Ever since I started this blog and began adding how-to articles for the beginning rinkbuilder, I had my eyes set on some sort of book. Up until this past spring, I always figured it would be some sort of homegrown e-book, something that would incorporate all of our articles into one tidy package, which we could sell on the site for a small fee. Like many of my ideas, I sat on it and never really acted on the idea.

Then an unsolicited email I received in February reignited those plans and then some. The email was from a conceptual book agent at Hollan Publishing, a MA-based company who circumvents the standard publishing process by coming up with book ideas first and then soliciting writers to execute them. The idea they pitched to me, as you can imagine, was a book about building a backyard ice rink. After visiting the site and seeing some of the content we’d already created, they reached out to me to see if I’d be interested.

I can’t recall if I simply replied “OH MY GOD HELL YES!”, but I might as well have.

What followed was a bit of a back and forth about content, and layout, and photography, and the all-important proposal. Hollan’s model is to work with potential authors to put together a proposal, which is then listed for sale. We solidified the proposal in late April, and waited. Fortunately, we didn’t wait long. In June, Countryman Press (VT, USA) offered to buy the proposal and work with me on the production of the book. By July 4th, the contract was signed. We’re writing a book, currently titled ‘BUILD A BACKYARD ICE RINK’.


I’m equal parts tickled and terrified. At this point, aside from the incredible Jack Falla books we’ve all read and cherished, there is no current book in existence that teaches folks how to build a backyard rink. So while the spotlight is narrow, I still feel its burn and want to make sure I do the genre justice and give folks the information they need to experience a successful rink season (or 20). But I’m also excited to have the opportunity to expand our reach from the web to the print universe, where we can hopefully turn more families on to the awesomeness of the backyard rink lifestyle.

This isn’t just about me or this site. Not by a long shot. I started writing for a nonexistent audience, but we’ve built a wonderful readership here on the blog, and also on our social networks and Backyard-Hockey.com Forums. Every email I get, every picture of a smiling kid, every “thanks for the instructions” post on our Facebook page fuels this site and helps affirm that we’re making a difference and helping people out. So I want to share this experience with you, every step of the way. We’ll be sharing excerpts of the book along the way, as well as showing exclusive images as we work through the process.

In addition (and I’m super excited about this part) we’ll be including an entire gallery devoted to YOUR rinks in the book. This site wouldn’t be here without you (and if the site wasn’t here, this book deal wouldn’t have been possible), so I want to give you all a chance to share your work of art with the world. I can’t promise we’ll be able to include all of them, but I’d love to be able to share as many of your creations as possible, giving potential readers of the book the idea that while we’re going to include step-by-step instructions, there are an infinite number of ways a rink can end up. So stay tuned for all of that.

Right now, my first manuscript is due to the publisher by March. So if the content on this site is a bit slow (as it has been), you’ll know why. The eventual target release date is around this time next year. There’s a lot of work to be done between now and then, and I’m going to need help from many of you along the way. And, of course, I’ll need each of you to buy 25 copies when it goes live next year :). But until then, share this post, spread the word, let your local cold-weather small bookseller know, and keep coming back to this site for updates.

You guys are all awesome. I’m looking forward to sharing our lifestyle, our genre, our passion with a greater audience, next year and beyond.

-Joe Proulx
Founder, Backyard-Hockey.com and (omg) Author-In-Training

Spring Cleaning For Winter?

Hey everyone! The kids are out of school and summer is here, which means it’s time to grab a beer, sit by the pool, and stare out at your rink site to figure out how you can make it even better next year. Fortunately, our buddy Mike over at Iron Sleek is sharing with us some ideas you might want to think about as you prep for the upcoming season. Lots of great ideas here. Be sure to check out the Iron Sleek site too, as they have added lots of new products (several of which we’ll share with you soon)! -Joe

isrinkHey Rinkers!

Although summer is here and flowers are blooming, it’s not too soon to start thinking about your rink for the upcoming season. A backyard rink is a progression of small improvements and Spring/Summer is the best time to improve the family rink. Our customer’s rink featured in the picture above took a few years of modifications and yard improvements to get to where it is today. Even, after many years of enhancing my own yard, I thought I was finally done for 2014-2015 season. Every year I learn more and every year I realize I AM NOT DONE! My next “rink prep” project is underway. I’m digging a trench to run wires for extra lighting (night vision for me is on the decline)! While doing the dig, I also plan to level the low section of my yard so next season’s rink is 5 feet wider. That will give me better ice quality and wider shooting angles so I can score on my much improved little skaters. I can’t wait! If you’re anything like me, your backyard ice has become a passion and you still reminisce about the awesome-ness ofyour 2013-14 winter rink!

Don’t let this season go by without prepping for next winter’s rink! When fall comes around, it will be too late. Here are a few things to consider this spring and summer:

Electricity and Lighting
Are you frustrated with your lighting situation? Not enough light, too many extension cords, etc. Consider running power to a convenient spot to service your rink lights. Maybe plant a tree to prop up a light? No tree? No problem! See if the Iron Sleek Post Kit can work for you! We put it on special for you with a free shipping coupon “springfree”.

Should you improve the grade? Is it just one corner that complicates things? I started with 17 inches of pitch and committed to fixing a corner. Eventually, I had landscapers get the level to 8 inches. Not bad! Are you putting in a pool or doing some other type of construction? If the equipment is already on site, have the excavators fix your rink area (I have a customer doing this exact thing! -JP). We put in a batting cage for our girls and relocated the dirt from the dig to a deep rink corner. Always think “rink”!

Dangerous Tree Branches
Take a look above your rink area. Are there dead tree limbs? I’m serious about this one. We had a customer in Toronto end up with enormous tree limbs in his rink (see the incredible photos on Facebook here!) What a trooper! Bob salvaged the rink and still skated for a month after the disaster. Pretty sure he owes his brother-in-law a cold one! Have those loose limbs cut down now so they don’t end up in your rink next season.

The Shed
If you are building a shed, strategically place it so it’s convenient to the rink. Could the shed double as a warming hut or hold a fridge for your frosty beverages? How about your resurfacer, shovels, sticks, pucks, and net?

It’s unavoidable…you must resurface your rink regularly. Make it easy on yourself! Is your water supply far from the rink? Consider running a spigot closer and with a hot water line. We plumbed our spigot for both hot and cold. It’s great for slip and slides in the summer and is ice smoothing in the winter. Want the ultimate slip and slide? Lay down an Iron Sleek liner, add some baby shampoo, and get the camera ready!

You want to expand but that would put you on the pavers or on your concrete patio. Don’t let that hold you back! The Iron Sleek Hard Court Bracket makes expansion onto hard surface a reality. Need a good reason get rid of that dying tree? Time to cut that tree out of your rink’s way? It will also make for great firewood this coming winter!

Time for some seating benches or a fire pit? Plan these yard features to adapt to the backyard rink. It may not be something you think of in year one, but as you think about making your rink experience better, more seating and a nice warm fire to drink warm up next to is a must!

Relocate your Rink
Did last year’s site pose too many challenges? Start planning a new site and keep the key rink elements in mind: size, shade, water availability, power/lights and pitch.

Sports Courts
If you are putting in an outdoor sports court this summer, give us a call and I’ll help you figure your rink into the picture. Hard surface or sport court rinks post unique challenges to the rinkbuilders, but Iron Sleek has solutions to help you out!

I hope these pointers stir up your creativity and get you to start planning for the 2014-15 rink. You’re a rinker and rinkers always “think rink”!

Look for loyalty discounts and new product releases from Iron Sleek™in the coming months! For now, we have the “springfree” coupon which will get you free shipping on components and we have the lighting kit price slashed.

Michael Barbanente
Principal at Outdoor Rinks by Iron Sleek

My name is Mike Barbanente. First of all, I am a father of 2 and I have committed myself to help making the little time I have with my kids as incredible and memorable as possible. I have shared my passion of family, sports, and engineering with you through our company, Outdoor Rinks by Iron Sleek. Iron Sleek is a one stop shop for outdoor ice rink hardware, ice rink liners, rink accessories, and we also offer hockey board options. We ship our easy to use Iron Sleek products to 29 States in the US and 8 different provinces in Canada.

Be sure to like us on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Iron-Sleek/392397737480859

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