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Advice for Building the Best Outdoor Rink from TSN's Dreger

By Aaron Wilbur, The Coaches Site, 01/11/22, 2:15PM EST

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Hockey Insider has well-known passion for backyard rinks


Note: This is a re-broadcast of an episode published in March 2021.

It’s a tradition every holiday season for TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger.

Every year he puts his annual callout for submissions to his Twitter account of backyard hockey rinks from across the country. They come in all shapes and sizes, each with their own personal touch. The images are shared on his feed - over the 24-hour period, Dreger estimates he loses two to three thousand followers of those only interested in the latest rumors and signings.

As the weather gets consistently cold enough for outdoor rink season, Dreger shares how he turned backyard rinks into a passion. Growing up in Langenburg, Saskatchewan meant that winters came much earlier and much faster.

“The tricky part in the Prairies is you weren’t worried about being able to make ice. We didn’t have the liners or the tarps that I use here; it’s a necessity in Ontario. There, by mid-November it’s -15 degrees and the ground is frozen solid and away you go. You pick a patch on the most level ground and you can make ice.”

Dreger said it was actually more maintenance to use the frozen lakes instead of building your own rink.

Now with a family of his own in Whitby, he’s been able to continue carrying on his expertise in the backyard come freezing temperatures.


Watch Dreger’s son Mason and teammates Ryan O'Rourke and Cole Perfetti as part of Season 1 of Home Ice:

“The one thing I always noticed when I had the natural ice is as soon as my son would be able to get on the ice, his goal scoring would go up. It was all about the hands, in tight and the finish work. The fact that he could invest all the time and have fun doing it without the coaches barking at him or the structure of the drills, I thought that was interesting. He loved it back there.”

A former minor hockey parent, Dreger still tries to make his way to the rink when possible. He still misses the social aspect of the game.

“As long as your son or daughter are enjoying playing, they like the environment, it’s healthy, don’t worry if it’s A, AA or AAA. You know how many stories there are of NHLers who didn’t play AAA at all? There’s so many. It’s about perseverance and enjoyment and stick-to-itiveness.”


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aaron is the Founder and CEO of The Coaches Site, the #1 online resource for hockey coaches, and also the host of the Glass & Out podcast. He is married with two boys, believes Major League is the best sports movie of all-time, is scared of heights and is mildly obsessed with the Alabama Crimson Tide football program.

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