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Woodford Times - Peoria, IL
  • Backyard hockey rinks pop up in central Illinois

  • The usual ads — from Reebok to Nike to Gatorade — are on the ice and small boards.

    There is a 20-minute break for the Zamboni-like machine to clean the ice, coinciding nicely with a hot chocolate intermission.
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  • The usual ads — from Reebok to Nike to Gatorade — are on the ice and small boards. There is a 20-minute break for the Zamboni-like machine to clean the ice, coinciding nicely with a hot chocolate intermission. This isn’t Carver Arena or Owens Center, this is Andy Seaton’s backyard. Seaton, a hockey player himself, installed a 25-foot-by-40-foot rink in his Germantown Hills backyard about two weeks ago so his 7-year-old son, Augie, could practice. A friend works at a logo company, Seaton said, so the rink looked like a mini professional hockey arena with his help. The small boards act more like a lip to help contain the pucks from shooting off the ice, standing about 18 inches off the ground. The ice resurfacer, run by Seaton’s wife, Lilli, was purchased from nicerink.com, the same as the rink. Seaton, along with Tony Rapplean, who built his rink in northern Peoria, said they wanted to provide their children with a safer alternative to the pond skating they grew up with. “You don’t have that fear of him falling through the ice. You can watch him from the living room,” Seaton said. Rapplean built his rink for his three kids a week before Christmas. Joe Ingle of Washington also built a rink for his three sons, who all play hockey in late November. All three men said their children were able to develop better skills. “I think it’s helped my youngest one immensely because he relies on leaning on his stick when he skates,” Ingle said. He added that after a few weeks, his youngest, Trey, 4, began skating without a stick. Seaton wanted a backyard rink for a few years, he said, but his home in Pekin didn’t have the space and had too much of a slope. It wasn’t long after moving into their Germantown Hills house that Seaton started looking for a rink to install. It costs about $200 for a hockey session at Owens Center, 1019 W. Lake Ave. He and his wife agreed the four to five times they have used the backyard rink have more than paid for itself. But Seaton jokingly said he hasn’t see his water bill yet. Rapplean spent about $75 on lumber and about $100 on liners, plastic sheets similar to what above ground pools use to hold water. He said he found he will get about two to three years out of his liner and replace lumber as needed. He added it only took about an hour to put together and four hours to fill. It’s “not a lot of cost for a lot of fun.”
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