RICHFIELD, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota is the State of Hockey, which means the sport isn’t restricted to ice arenas and lakes.
Backyard rinks are hugely popular.
WCCO viewers’ pick for the Best Backyard Rink in Minnesota is in its fourth season in Richfield.
They might not know it, but Tim Stefansky’s children have the ultimate winter playground behind their house.
“I think one of my sisters called it an ‘outdoor entertainment system’ — the hockey rink, the fort, and the luge,” Stefansky said.
The centerpiece of their jam-packed backyard is the rink.
“The first year it was half this size, and my wife was our here for five minutes and the first thing she said was, ‘It’s going to have to be bigger next year,'” Stefansky said.
And other additions were made.
“I didn’t have any of the boards behind the goals, so we ended up chasing pucks into the neighbor’s yard at night,” he said.
And once the basics were in place, it was time to add a little flair.
“This year, we put up the nets and flags, and the coffee holders next to the rink,” Stefansky said.
But all this doesn’t come easy. Stefansky’s put in about 100 hours on the rink this winter.
He even built his own ice resurfacer.
“The water trickles out the base here on to the towel, and it melts the imperfections on the ice,” he said. “Obviously not as good as a real Zamboni, but it does the trick on the outdoor rink.”
And even though the rink keeps Stefansky busy, his wife, Ingrid, says it’s worth it.
“He spends a lot of time out here, but, so do the kids,” Ingrid said. “Winters are hard, and you just want to make sure the kids are outside and getting some fresh air.”
The kids are certainly taking advantage of it — Sam is 4 years old and is already pretty comfortable on skates.
And 6-year-old Maddie has big dreams on the ice.
“She says she wants to be a figure skater, so, next year maybe we’ll try the figure skates,” Ingrid said.