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This article was published 27/12/2019 (919 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Hockey rinks are sometimes referred to as "barns," but what about garages?
One Brandon garage has been transformed into a perfect-sized miniature ice rink for a young goalie.
For the second year in a row, Jeff Derlago of the legendary local hockey-playing family has made a miniature ice surface in his garage for his 10-year old son Jaxon.
Jeff’s uncle Bill is widely considered as one of the best Brandon Wheat Kings of all time and his brother Mark was a team captain and is currently an assistant coach for the team.
The family had previously made a rink in their backyard, but the garage has several benefits that make it more appealing.
"The garage definitely gets more use," he said. "The car doesn’t like (being outside), but it can’t talk back."
During the summer, the boards used for the rink are repurposed as wall-mounted shelving in the garage to store camping supplies and sports gear.
It’s an out-of-the-ordinary ice surface, but Jeff said that it was a simple process to set up.
"It’s six boards basically just put together," he said. "We seal the concrete and the boards with snow, pack it in, make it ice and then fill it up."
When Jeff and Jaxon are done for the day, they shovel the top layer off to keep things fresh for the next outing. Then they make sure all the doors and windows are sealed to keep things cold if it warms up outside.
With the doors and windows closed, there’s an effective barrier against the prairie wind chill. A scattered collection of space heaters makes going outside more palatable during -30 C weather. If it gets too warm, they can open the windows to solidify the ice.
Depending on the family’s schedule, the pair comes out to the rink three or four times a week.
Another key benefit is that they don’t have to shovel off the ice when it snows. However, with the space heaters on, moisture collects on the garage door over time and freezes. That means that they occasionally have to scrape the ice off so they can open the door if needed.
Jaxon is already a pretty good goalie — the 10-year old’s Black Knights squad won their division’s provincial championship last season — but he said that the extra practice time the rink allows for has helped him improve on his angles.
"It’s done me a lot of good," he said.
Because of the small size, they keep the rink for themselves, although Jeff’s daughter sometimes comes out for a brief skate.
He knows he’s good, too. When asked who’s a better player, him or his dad, Jaxon confidently but calmly said it’s him.
However, he did concede that his dad makes for a good training partner.
"He pays attention at all the camps I go to," Jaxon said.
The youngster is a big Washington Capitals fan and tries to model his game after Canadian goalie and Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby. Jaxon said he admires Stanley Cup champion Holtby’s ability to minimize the number of mistakes he makes during a game.
Eventually, Jaxon hopes to make it onto a Western Hockey League team and then make it to the NHL.
Jeff thinks that they’ll get another couple of years of use out of garage rinks before Jaxon grows out of the space. He wants to get out before flying pucks do too much damage to the garage’s door and walls.
After their practice session on Thursday morning, the father-son duo planned on watching Canada’s World Junior Hockey Championships game against the United States.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark