Backyard rinks are as Canadiana as maple syrup or beaver tails. Every year thousands of Canadians take to their backyard rinks and thrust themselves into Canadian lore. How many times did you score the winning goal of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on a backyard rink? Did you ever pretend to be Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux? The young Crosby’s and McDavid’s of today’s youth are out there in full force, laces tied and chins strapped, ready to make new lifetime memories on backyard rinks all across our great Nation. Let’s help them continue on the tradition that was passed down to us. Here are some helpful tips to keep your backyard rink in prime condition this winter:
- Unless you live where the polar bears roam, it’s probably best not to use snow as the base for your rink. As we have seen here in the Durham region, winter can be interrupted with periodic thaws that will turn your rink quickly into a puddle and make it virtually impossible to get back. Using a liner of thick and durable plastic will definitely prolong the life of your backyard rink.
- Clear the snow! Yes it may be tempting to grab a cup of hot chocolate and stay indoors but clearing snow off your rink is a must. Leaving accumulations on top of your rink is just asking for trouble. Use a deck from after shoveling off your surface to get it as clean as possible. A sudden change in temperatures could leave your backyard masterpiece a slushy mess.
- When flooding your rink, don’t use a spray nozzle. Instead, let the water flow freely to all areas of your rink. A spray nozzle can create a pebble effect on your ice surface and make it rough. Try to water your rink in the evenings when the temperatures are colder and the winds are less.
- If you use boards, make sure the tops are protected with something soft to prevent injury. Pool noodles are flexible and durable and make excellent covers for the tops of your boards.
- Use a big rubber garbage can for storage. Rather than leaving thinks like sticks and pucks on the ice, put it in the rubber garbage container for the next day. That way if there is thawing, your rink won’t be damaged by the debris left on the surface.
- Make sure everyone wears a helmet! Regardless of how perfect your ice surface is and how diligent you are, there will be weak spots and ruts that can be dangerous. Helmets are always an excellent idea for anyone venturing out onto the ice.
These tips should help you get off to a great start with your backyard rink. Now get out there and start making those lifelong memories with your kids!