Backyard rink a family tradition

By Jeremy Fraser
Jan. 22, 2015

Kenny Baldwin and his son Drew opened their backyard rink for the season in early January.

It’s a winter tradition dating back to the early 1960s when Kenny’s father, John, made their first rink for the children on Oliver Street in New Waterford.

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Making the rink is something he won’t forget, said John.

“I made the rink for Kenny and his friends. As much as I hated clearing it off, it’s what a father does.”

He remembers clearing off the rink for the children following a major snow storm in 1964.

“We got close to 50 cms of snow that day and of course the kids were eager to get on the ice. I’ll never forget it.

“I’m happy to see Kenny continuing the tradition.”

Kenny, who works for Old Dutch Foods in Sydney, enjoys building the rink with his son.

“It’s father and son bonding time, which makes it all worth it.

“I coach Drew’s minor hockey team and I see him play, but being able to play hockey with your son on a backyard rink is priceless.”

Drew, 11, plays hockey for the New Waterford Sharks Peewee ‘A’ team. He enjoys playing outdoors more than playing in an indoor rink.

“It’s a lot more fun to play hockey outside.”

While playing minor hockey, games are only an hour and a half long at most, on an outdoor rink there are no time limits.

“We can play for six hours or until we get cold enough. It’s not the same as playing with the Sharks,” said Baldwin, whose favourite NHL team is the Montreal Canadiens.

With opening the rink also comes another tradition.

In 2012, Kenny and Drew came up with an idea of a championship tournament, the Neighbourhood Cup.

The fun event is put on for all the children in the Oliver Street area. Most of them play minor hockey with Drew.

“The kids have fun playing in the tournament. The parents also have fun watching the kids,” said Kenny.

It’s expected John will drop the ceremonial puck to open the tournament, laughed Kenny.

“He’s never missed a tournament, I don’t think that will change.”

Krista Dove is the head of recreation for New Waterford and Dominion. She and her team have launched a contest looking for the best backyard rink in the area.

“We came up with the idea in October. I expect to get a lot of entries for it.”

It’s good to see children playing outdoors, she said.

“The contest was made in order to get the children more active outdoors, rather than sitting inside all winter playing video games.”

Entries will be accepted until Feb. 16.

The winner will play a game with two members of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on the winning rink. The date has not been determined.

The Baldwins said they plan on entering the contest.

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