Mark Shepherd prepares backyard rink for the Big Game


Backyard rink works just that much better with homemade watering device


Julie Collins – Cape Breton Post

Mark Shepherd uses a handmade Zamboni-type rake to resurface his backyard rink.

SYDNEY MINES — Using a garden hose, PVC pipe and fleece, Mark Shepherd keeps the ice in his backyard rink like a sheet of glass.

Topics :

Canadiens , Montreal

“I found that just using the garden hose left the ice surface rough and bumpy,” Shepherd said. “I wanted ice that is smooth, so the puck would glide along.”

He did a little research and found there was a variety of ice resurfacing systems for backyard rinks.

“Once I saw the pictures, I knew I could make something to suit my needs,” he said. “Applying the concept of a regular Zamboni, I put the pipe together and put a valve at the top to control the flow of water. I find that a soft, fleece blanket doubled holds the water really well. It makes the mat heavy and keeps the surface continually moist.”

He explained that the Zamboni rake leaves a thin layer of water and, if it is cold enough, the water freezes almost immediately.

“Three or four passes and the ice surface is pretty much like glass.”

Shepherd said his father made him a backyard rink when he was young; when his own son, Nick, turned four and put on his first pair of skates, Shepherd decided to continue the tradition.

“I started out small and as Nick grew I kept making it bigger. The rink is 40 ft. by 80 ft. and takes up a good chunk of the backyard,” he said. “It’s trial and error with this type of project. I find that each year I make little improvements that make the rink better.”

His said his son lives and breathes hockey and when he isn’t playing with the Northside Vikings, he plays hockey with his friends in the backyard.

“My dad built a rink for me and I wanted to do the same for my son. There is work involved, but the benefits far out weight any time or costs; the main thing is that everyone has fun.

“Using the Zamboni rake makes maintaining the ice a lot easier and gives me time to spend with the kids. To see Nick and his buddies spending so much time outdoors and keeping active, it’s great.”

Shepherd has also put a lot of miles on his snowblower over the past seven or eight years, keeping the ice surface clear of snow.

“Nick and his friends are good to use the shovels and scoops to keep off the light snow. Being big Montreal (Canadiens) fans, we usually have the team logo on the ice, but this year Nick wanted to go with the Northside Vikings.

“New this year too are the face-off dots; the kids get a kick out of those.”

Mark could have made something similar to what they used at the Northside Forum back in the 1950s. It was a barrel filled with water on an axle with tires pulled by a rink rat. Below the barrel dragging along the ice was something very similar to what Mark has developed. The water ran down and through this zamboni like unit on the ice and the rink rats pulled them along and flooded the ice. There was another group who came out first and scrapped the ice surface prior to the flooding. They did a great job too. Mark is to be congratulated on his dedication and what he does for his son Nick and the local boys. CAPER


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