So, we’re building a rink. And of course, any excuse I can dig up to create a website and blog, you know I’m going for it. So this blog will chronicle the planning, building, lining, filling, waiting, freezing, and hopefully skating that goes along with my first backyard rink. I’m eager to share the sport of hockey with my sports-crazed two-year-old RJ, as well as bring his mom along for the ride that my parents took with me almost 30 years ago.
I’m being helped along the way by several people. First is my wife Meaghan, who realized my passion for hockey (and my desire to teach my son the game) trumped any budgetary concerns, and after a brief pitch by yours truly, green-lighted the whole project. Next is my son, my “reason” for building this rink. I quote the word “reason” because, while I can’t wait to show him how to skate on the rink, I’m also looking forward to enjoying some ice time myself. Where my wife used the little boy in her belly as a reason to eat pizza five times a week for nine months, I’m using him as an excuse to build a backyard hockey paradise. I’m allowed to do that, right? Also helping out is my dad, in many ways. Always there to carry boards, pound in a ground stake, screw in a bracket, or lend his truck for supply shuttling, he’s done as much as I have on this rink. Last up are the members of the Yahoo Backyard Rink users group, and eternal member Jack Falla. Falla, a writer, teacher, and friend to all who met him, passed away unexpectedly this past September. His love for the game, his family, and how his rink brought the two together, is well-chronicled in two of his books, Home Ice and Open Ice. He was the patriarch of our little online support group, and his words helped me rationalize this dream and bring it to reality. His memory lives on in every backyard rink. The other members of the group, through their encouraging posts, unending barrage of information, and willingness to answer rookie questions, are also very much a part of our little rink.
Where to start? Well, I spent today with my dad, building the frame of the rink. In a move to cut costs (like everyone else), I opted for ripping pieces of plywood into 1′ x 8′ strips to use as the boards. I had originally intended on using thicker, sturdier 2x12x10 boards, but found the $7 plywood sheets and Lowe’s offer of free cutting impossible to pass up. Thanks to the Lowe’s employee who spent 45 minutes cutting the boards for my new rink! So anyways, my rink is staked out to be about 35×50. The plywood strips serve as the boards, while 2′ wooden stakes pounded into the ground serve as the supports. I also purchased a 35′ wide fishing net to serve as the backstop, and to prevent pucks from flying into the woods forever. That’ll get attached to the top of the shooting end boards, then run up to some 2×4’s that will be screwed into the fence posts just beyond said boards. So far so good…now to wait for the cold!