By Tom Nader
Publisher and Editor
Most enjoyed the fact that Thursday’s temperatures leapt over 40 for the first time in weeks.
The Janzig family, along with their neighbors, including the Phillips and Joy families, were not so thrilled.
The slightly warmer weather meant ice melting around Northeast Ohio and that meant the loss of the backyard and lake ice rinks that sat behind the Janzig house in Aurora.
Just four days earlier, with temperatures that sunk close to zero, the Janzig family and their friends spent six hours on the ice playing hockey.
In their backyard.
“That’s why I do it,” said Jeff Janzig, who is the Aurora High School goalkeepers coach and whose children also play hockey. “Watching all of the kids out on the ice instead of inside on their phones is great.”
The idea of turning your backyard into an ice hockey rink is not for everyone.
In fact, it is not for most.
For Janzig, who grew up in Northern Minnesota, but did not start playing hockey until his 20’s, the idea has been part of his life for close to 15 years.
When he and his wife Megan lived across the street from Aurora Lake, Jeff created just a small pad that he and his wife would skate on together.
When he and his family moved onto the water in 2012, it was time for something bigger.
Learning along the way, with each passing year, the Janzig family turned their backyard into a 25 by 50 foot rink this season.
The multi-day project is made a little more difficult because of the graded slope in their backyard, which pushes all of the water to the deep end and creates more water pressure.
All part of the challenge that Janzig enjoys most: Problem solving.
He uses an EZ Ice board kit for the rink’s foundation, along with plywood cut down to size to help support and handle the water pressure. Then a liner is placed down on top of a group of wood pallets. Janzig then pumps the water in from the lake, along with installing a net to protect their house and cars from errant pucks.
After that, it is time for hockey.
And once the lake gets up to four inches of ice, the Janzigs, their neighbors and friends, turn part of Aurora Lake into an even larger ice rink — complete with lights.
Janzig uses a simple collection of materials that can be found at any of your local home-improvement centers, and Aurora Lake magically turns into a scene out of a Canadian backdrop or movie-production scene.
The “facilities” turn the Janzig household into grand central station for the ice hockey fanatics in his household and throughout the community.
A fact that Janzig loves almost as much as he loves that his backyard rinks help promote what he considers, for many reasons, to be the greatest youth sport out there.
“There is just something special about hockey,” Janzig said. “It is such a great sport for kids, but it is so inaccessible. Our kids have tried just about any sport you can think of, but there is some kind of neurological pull to skating that they can’t get enough of it. They want to be on the ice. If our backyard rinks expose more kids to the game, even if in a minimal way, that is what it is all about. We are a culture that stares at screens so to see our kids get out there on the ice, go at it and have fun, there’s nothing like it. Especially in the winter, when the weather typically makes us less social because we are indoors staying warm. The rinks bring families together, then also, a bonus is that the more time our kids spend on the ice, the better they are getting at hockey.”
Way to go guys!
I love the ice rink and keeping kids off devices. Much more fun and active!