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You Know You’re A Backyard Rink Builder When…

You call it "snowblowing the rink". We rinkbuilders call it "date night".

You call it “snowblowing the rink”. We rinkbuilders call it “date night”.

We do lots of stuff on our Facebook page — we link to our posts, we share interesting links to other sites, we post products for sale…and of course, we engage our ever-growing and supportive readership.

Last week, we asked a simple question and elicited answers. As usual, they were insightful, funny, and interesting, and we’ve compiled them here for all to see. Have something to add? Throw it in the comments below. We’re an interesting breed, the backyard rink builder. Please don’t ever change.


“You use your garden house more in the winter than the rest of the year combined.” -MP

“You know the 10 day forecast better than you know your kids names…” -CM

“You don’t have time to clear the snow off the driveway because you’ve got to clean off the ice.” -CT

“You have to remove several dozen pucks from your yard before spreading fertilizer in the spring.” -JC

“Your basement looks like this.” -SM (Ed. note – good to see I’m doing it right -JP)

“You make it your one and only goal to get your yard as perfectly level as possible, even if that means blowing your shoulders out moving 2 dump truck loads of fill to do it.” -JT

“You’re the only one in the hose section of the local hardware store in the middle of January.” -KM

“Plywood is your boards and chicken wire is your glass.” -CR

“You’re sore all day at work because you worked all night on the ice so the kids can skate the next day.” -JJ

“That Behr exterior paint actually works at 35 degrees.” -SP

“You have an intense hatred for the combination of wind, pine needles and oak trees.” -LB

“You’re upset when the forecast call for consecutive days of above freezing temps in January and everyone else looks at you like you’re nuts.” -JM

“The kids get done skating at 1am and your anxiously waiting to resurface!” -JK

“You have a close relationship with a guy in Florida named “Captain Jay” and can debate the finer points of fishing nets with him.” -LB

“You’ve ever said the sentence, “Not tonight honey…I need to go resurface.”” -JP

Have another one? Have a favorite? Tell us in the comments below.

Choosing Hockey Equipment

Note: our buddy Nate from prostockhockey.com sent us over this piece about the best ways to break into what can be an expensive sport. Thanks Nate!

20150107_140809Shinny. Pond hockey. Backyard hockey.

If you’re fortunate enough to live on a lake or near a pond, or have invested in the proper backyard ice rink supplies to make your own skating surface, there’s no denying how enjoyable lacing up the skates outdoors can be. After all, that’s the origin of the game — and a special way to spend time honing skills and enjoying time with friends. But one thing that hockey players young and old must be aware of while playing on the outdoor rink or backyard pond is that safety rules must still be adhered to at all times.

Yes, hockey has a reputation for being an expensive sport. Aside from skates and sticks, there are helmets, pants, shoulder and shin pads and more that are required for use in organized play — and they all add up. Skating on the backyard rink is a little different, because there’s no governing body making sure you’re wearing the proper safety gear. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important.

It’s true that you can get away without some of the padding required in organized games (e.g. in a game of “shinny,” there’s the agreement between all players that they won’t raise pucks higher than the shins, so much of the above-the-waist padding can be shed), but here’s a look at some safety tips for skating on the outdoor rink:

Equipment for Outdoor Hockey

• The basics: Players skating outdoors will likely have at least hockey gloves and a helmet. Hockey gloves are essential because, even if the player isn’t wearing full gear, knowing how the stick feels with the gloves on is essential to having good hands on the ice. When buying hockey gloves, buying big with the intent to grow into them typically doesn’t apply. They’re a piece of equipment that needs to be sized properly at purchase, so puck-handling and grip won’t be affected. Helmets, on the other hand, are often purchased in larger sizes because most of today’s models are adjustable. For youth players, we always recommend a full-face shield on the helmet, too.

• Think used: There are ways to curb the costs of playing hockey while still getting a quality piece of equipment. That’s right — think used. Many hockey stores have a “used” division where gear is available at discounted prices. You can also bargain-shop by attending some of the manufacturer equipment sales, where older models are typically sold for lower prices to make way for new models. Talk to people that you know in the hockey community and see if they know of any good deals or of anyone who has old gear they’re looking to part with.

• Skates: Hockey skates are essential, whether you’re playing hockey on a team or just skating out on the backyard rink. A word of warning for the young hockey player — refrain from purchasing top-of-the-line skates during the prime growth and development years. That’s because young hockey players have a tendency to go through skates quickly as their feet grow during this period. So why pay top dollar for the best skate on the market, only to have outgrown it in nine months? This is another great example of where buying used can come in handy. If buying used isn’t your thing, opt for the good, not great, skate model that won’t break the bank, but will suffice for the young player.

So yes, while hockey is expensive, there are ways to cut costs and still get good value — whether your youngster is playing on an ice rink or in the backyard. It just takes the know-how to get the best bang for your buck.

About the author: Nate Puskaric is the Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey (prostockhockey.com), an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Michigan State. Nate is passionate about hockey and the Blackhawks and is an expert in hockey gear and equipment.

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.