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Canadians eager to get their hockey fix

Andrea Stockton, staff writer
October 12, 2012 — Wondering how to get your hockey fix at home? Backyard rinks are a favourite Canadian tradition, even Wayne Gretzky practiced on one his dad made years ago.

Bring hockey right to your backyard
Bring hockey right to your backyard

Many Canadians are starting to feel a hockey withdrawal and several people are eager to fill that void. 

Chas Birkett, president of says building a backyard rink can be the perfect solution. 

"It's a great Canadian pass time. It's much better than having the kids on the couch watching TV, you can make a rink and get them outside." 

According to Birkett, there's over 500,000 registered hockey participants in Canada, with thousands more participating in figure skating as well. 

"So people spend a lot of time involved in these formal programs and then naturally, they want to be able to skate at home as well." 

The key factor for a successful backyard rink? A frigid weather forecast. 

Although different regions can dictate different weather, the general start times are consistent across the country.

Once temperatures are consistently below the freezing mark, you can start filling your rink with water
Once temperatures are consistently below the freezing mark, you can start filling your rink with water

"I need The Weather Network's 14 day graph to be low consistently," laughed Birkett. "We always look for some really deep freezes." 

Birkett adds that it's rare to have a rink complete before Christmas. 

"The colder the better. Two years ago was the first year we had a rink before Christmas in southern Ontario, but when you see that 14 day line go low for an extended period of time, that's a sign for us to put some water in and get going with it." 

Common mistake

For those hoping to build their first backyard rink this year, Birkett says there's always one common mistake. 

"The liner! I tried making one without a liner once, just compacting some snow and spraying it during the cold weather, but it's really critical to use a plastic rink liner because you need something that will retain the water and hold it while it freezes." 

Birkett says a plastic rink liner will also hold the water in when there are fluctuating temperatures or even a thaw.

A few basic tips to get started: 

  • Make sure your ground is level. If there are areas that are not level you can shovel snow to the one side to bring that side up a bit.
  • Use a kit that includes the framework, which will hold the water in really well.
  • Make sure to use a sturdy rink liner. Once they have a little tear, a lot of water can leak through even very small holes.

"You'll be able to get your hockey fix right at home," says Birkett. 

For more information on building your own rink, you can head to

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