Hockey is not just a game – it’s a Canadian way of life.
That statement proves true in one Red Deer family’s backyard.
Corine and Al Sim converted their backyard into a mini-rink about 21 years ago.
The rink is used for inline hockey in the summer, and in wintertime, it gets flooded and has been used for thousands of hours in the past, said Al.
Corine and Al’s three children, Brady, Lane and Paige, are now adults.
“It served the community, all the neighbourhood kids and all my friends’ kids for years,” Al said, adding someday, his grandchildren will also end up using it.
Their middle child, Lane, 23, said he used the rink after school while growing up.
“Anybody could just come back here whenever they pleased. I would come here after school and there would be four people here playing hockey, so there’s lots of good memories,” he said, adding the rink made him somewhat popular when he was growing up.
The Deer Park rink – about 30 by 85 feet in size – has rinkside advertisements featuring businesses the family is affiliated with or has been in the past.
The family also has a mini baseball diamond in the backyard, a playhouse and a dressing room.
Corine said both she and Al wanted their three kids to feel they could invite their friends over, and hockey has always been a big part of their life.
“We loved it. We spent hours watching the kids playing and hanging out and it was the place where the kids came,” the mom said.
“And we wanted our kids to be safe where they were.”
Even today, adults and children from time to time come over to shoot pucks.
“They don’t come out as much today, because our neighbourhood in this area has gotten older,” Corine said.