It is finally that time of year in Buffalo, when seasonal depression starts kicking in, the temperature is dropping, and . . . water is frozen solid! The backyard rink 2019 edition is ready to go!

We were smart and got the rink set up back in December, before there was snow on the ground.

Back in December, my buddy Julien came over to help me set up the rink. We used the 1×6 boards I had lying around from previous failed attempts at the rink. I also learned from previous years and picked up wooden garden stakes, which helped me anchor the boards together, as well as provide support for when the water and ice push against the boards. We also put down polyethylene sheeting (4 mm thickness) to keep the water in. In hindsight, I wish I had paid the money and went up to 10 mm, which might be technically less porous and avoid gradual loss of water, but the 4 mm is doing the trick so far.

Over the past week, I’ve slowly but surely built up a nice, smooth surface of ice in the backyard. Finally after a week of nights in the low 20s to high teens, we have a skateable surface. The trick for a smooth surface? Hot water. Just like a Zamboni. My ~very~ understanding wife allows me to run a hose from the basement, through the kitchen and living room, and out the dog door to the rink. This lets me pump hot water right onto the surface giving it a beautifully glassy finish.

Last night I was able to spend about twenty to thirty minutes with skates on, and the ice held up pretty good overall. It is a relatively small rink, only about 20×22 feet, which is more than enough for kids, and enough for me to work on tight turns and stick handling, but not enough for real skating. I also picked up an LED floodlight on a tripod from Home Depot, and that throws a ton of light (which is good because we’re in full darkness by around 5:30pm in Buffalo).

With the rink in place and ready to go, I feel like winter fun is finally ready to begin. With pond hockey down at Canalside, and pick-up skates on Thursday nights, I’m super excited to be able to work on my skills at home, which will hopefully translate to more wheels, snipes, and cellys.