OUR BACKYARD HOCKEY
- went to 36' wide, and made all board 4' / full-height.
it helped keep pucks in the rink, added some wall rigidity, and a
little shade on the near side ice. also tossed the orange snow
fence and used golf netting. the orange stuff worked before he
found his slapshot.
- 56'x32'. i went with this size based on the following:
the dimensions are multiples of 8' which made it easy to use 4x8'
panels and 2x3x8's for boards // it didn't take up the entire yard // the cost of a 60'x40' liner
was about $200
// it would be mostly kids on the ice who don't need as much space
// lastly, coaches say the game played on small area is the
way to get better due to lots of touches (at least in soccer and
hockey). i originally designed it
as a rectangle, but heard from others that corners attract snow, are
a pain to keep clean, and pucks get stuck there. so i used a 6'
panel at a 45° to the sides for each corner which worked well.. also, i can always
go bigger by adding another 8' panel in either direction.
PANELS: 4x8' sheets
of 7/16" OSB (from Lowe's, had blue on the edges), as they were
the cheapest option at around $14/each. i built a frame
behind each panel from 2x3x8's. i used long, exterior
screws to fasten together, then put 2 coats of exterior white on
them, front, back and sides. i estimate each panel cost
roughly $20 when finished. i had 22 panels in all, but 6
of them were 1/2 height (2x8').
i drilled 3 holes along the bottom of each panel, and drove a
J-hook 18"x0.5" rebar stake through each. i found the
j-hooks on eBay in packs of 20 for about $2/each. they
worked well while the ground was frozen, but slid/moved under the
water/ice pressure when the ground warmed up or got wet. i
had the most trouble in the deep end where the water was 16"
deep. worked well where i only have 5" of water. i
also cut 2x4x8's into angled supports that connected 3' up the
back of the panel to keep them from being pushed or knocked
over. i used wood screws to attach to the boards, and put
a rebar ground stake in the other end to hold into the ground.
worked pretty well, again, while the ground was frozen.
this was actually one of the bigger expenses of the project.
since our rink wasn't in the shade, i needed to paint everything
white. two coats, both sides, used up a lot of paint.
this probably took the most time too.
NETTING AND SUPPORT
my brother-in-law gave me a bunch of 1 1/2" inch galvanized pipe
he didn't need, and i used them at both ends to hold the orange
snow fencing as well as the lights and flags. i screwed
the poles onto the backs of the boards. next year i'm
going to drill holes into the boards for the poles to
slide down into. should be sturdier, and less work to
install. it will also keep the fencing near the front (ice
side) of the panel instead of the back side. we found
pucks sometimes would fall between the netting and the back of
the panels. not a big deal, but worth trying something
different. the snow fencing i got at the big hardware
i have both halogen work lights and LED lights up on 10' poles.
really don't need a ton of lighting at night, but i had the
lights. i installed a remote on/off outlet (~$14 on eBay)
where i plug in the lights, which was REALLY nice. just
hit the remote from inside the house and lights are on.
YELLOW KICKER PLATES:
found a 4x8' sheet of some thin (1/8"?) sub-floor material at
the big store, and had the guy rip in 8" wide strips
(wanted 6" but 8" is the smallest they will rip). painted
with a gallon bright construction yellow paint from the big store.
screwed onto the boards once the ice was frozen. came out
nice i think, and it also protects 8" of liner that sticks above
the ice. i cut the liner at the top of the kicker plates
and tossed. they also worked well when my son tossed pucks
off them. decent rebound.
THE REALITY, THE LESSONS LEARNED & WHAT
I'LL DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME
first rink, and never having played ice hockey, i think it
turned out really well. the famous "night before the big
storm" that i talk about below was, as they say "priceless".
we had near-perfect glass-like ice, and i was out at night,
lights on, skating with my two sons - the older playing hockey
while i skated with my younger one who is just learning to
skate. wouldn't trade that for anything. my wife
joined us later. if that's the last time we skate this
year, it was worth it (it wasn't, but it took
almost a week to recover the ice to flat & smooth). but i'm still hoping we'll be up
running again soon. in the meantime, i'm posting the good,
the bad, and the "need to fix for next year" below. i
learned a lot from all the other backyard builders that have
gone before me and posted on the web, so i'm hoping what i add
here will help someone and save them some headaches, so they can
spend their time on the ice with their kids. i certainly
don't know as much as some of the others on the web, but i'm
happy to share what i've learned, so email me if you have any
q's. i'll try to post some pics too to help with my
- my neighbor helped get the ground much closer to level (thanks
John & NuCor Mgmnt). before we started i was over 2.5 feet off level, but got
it closer to just over 1-1.5 foot off in the deeper end. but that extra
depth still took a TON of EXTRA water to fill (60+ hours with the
garden hose). thankfully we have a well, but i'm sure my well
pump wasn't happy (and it would be a bear to replace it during the
frozen winter months if the pump died). but for next year i
plan to get someone to come in and make this part of the yard as
perfectly level as possible. i know that yards should always have
some slope for drainage, but i'll put up with a wet area of the yard
after it rains if i can have a level surface for the rink. though i'll spend
additional money on leveling, i'll save time in filling up AND in waiting for the rink to freeze
(the deep end never actually froze completely all winter, and at
some point i got a leak and all that water drained out leaving my
ice tilted - but more on that below).
- i'm planning to use this year's liner as the under-liner for next
year, and buy a new liner next year. the current liner has a
leak somewhere, which has resulted in the ice surface dropping
almost 3" over the past two weeks. i still have lots of ice,
so it was probably all the water under the ice that never froze that
leaked out. but again, wasted water. update: we
had a long warm spell and more water has drained out. i'm
thinking when the ice on top dropped it tore the liner and i can't
locate it. right now the ice is 6" lower since the big
30" snowstorm came. my current tarp that i bought on eBay has the 'weave' pattern
like most brown/gray tarps from the big stores. next year i'm
going to try the non-weave layered liners which look more like a
thick (non-patterned) garbage bag material, only white. a
little more expensive, but if i can avoid leaks, it'll be well worth
it. update: i sold the old liner, and will buy a new one.
i think there are other holes in it i can't find.
- i'll make all the board 4' tall (currently about 2/3s of the
walls are 4', with the closer side where we step onto the ice only 2' tall). this will provide some additional shade from
the sun on the southern side of the rink. i'll also need to
build a gate/door to access the ice. right now everyone steps
over the 2' boards, which is a little cumbersome.
SUPPORTS - the rebar and 2x4'
supports worked well as long as the ground stayed frozen.
during the 2 week warmup in mid-January i got a leak, which soaked
the ground around the deep end, and the rebar started to 'slide' in
the unfrozen, muddy ground (see pic below). this allowed the bottom of the
boards to be pushed out from the pressure of the water and freezing
of the ice (the freezing water below the ice sheet pushed outward
b/c the ice was too heavy to push 'up'). the upper parts were
held in place by the angled 2x4s, so the boards tilted a fair
amount. it's impossible to fix mid-season, so i added a bunch
more rebar and support boards in the deep end. hopefully
they'll last till the end of the season. next year i WILL make the 2x4' angled supports a little smaller so they attach
1/2 up the board (at the 2' mark), instead of at the current 3' high mark. i may also add a horizontal 2x4' to create a triangle-shaped
support so that the angled 2x4's are physically connected to
horizontal supports & rebar. and if the yard is really level,
i'll only need 4-5" of water, which is a LOT easier to contain than
BOARDS - i got away with long
screws holding the boards to each other this year, but next year (once the ground is leveled
and all the boards line up along the top), i'll connect with a
carriage bolts near the top and near the bottom. once the ice
started to freeze some separation occurred at the
corners of the deeper end.
- i read that snow left on the ice will kill it. so i was
ready to shovel after every snowfall. but the first big
snowstorm this January started on a FRI night and lasted thru early
SUN morning, dumping almost 30". there were heavy winds, so
the rink wasn't completely covered in snow but the time i went out
to shovel SUN morning. the uncovered and
slightly covered portions of ice were fine. BUT.... all
the ice under the deeper snow (4" or more) was turned to hard
slush, which was over 2/3's of the rink. ugh. there was
NO separation between the ice surface and the snow which made it
difficult to clear the snow. i shoveled as much of the snow as
i could, but in the end, those sections ended up being either 1-2" above
the good ice (see picture below). once it froze it became VERY crusty and uneven. i'm hoping the
warmer temps coming this week will melt the surface enough to level
it out again. LESSON LEARNED: even if i have to go
outside every hour through the night, i will NEVER again wait until the snow has
stopped to shovel it off the ice. i'm guessing this mistake
has set me back over a week before we'll have the ice back, assuming
all goes well. i've seen some guys have a dedicated snow blower for their rink.
if i can find a smaller one at the right price, i'll probably do the
same. UPDATE: after this we had a 2 week warm spell,
during which we lost a ton of water (ice dropped 6"). but the
good news is that the warm spell appears to have helped the ice
re-level itself. still not perfect, but certainly way better
than after the snowstorm. two weeks later i'm ready to start
resurfacing with hot water to get it skateable again with the
sub-zero temps coming this weekend, but here comes more snow
tonight! not much snow expected, but the warm weather has made
the ice too thin to walk on, so i don't know if i'll be able to
shovel off the snow in the morning. if i can't shovel it off,
i plan to soak the snow before it freezes and hopefully build a
layer of ice on top with the snow. we'll see.....
- HOT water definitely works much better when resurfacing the
ice. i tried a few times with 'straight out of the hose faucet' cold
water, but it gave an uneven surface. letting the hot water
flow out onto the ice as i moved the hose around did an OK job, but
using a hand-made "rink rake" or "handboni" was the
best method (see YouTube on how to make your own, made from PVC, I connected
laundry room hot water faucet and ran it out the window).
unfortunately, our best ice was the night before the big snowstorm
that wrecked the ice. it's been 2 weeks and we haven't skated
since. in the spring i plan to put
an outdoor hot water faucet to use for the rink, then i won't have
to leave the window open while i'm resurfacing.