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Toronto Maple Leafs Synthetic Ice by KwikRink

Attempts to imitate the glorious gliding of a frozen ice rink have been around for a long time.

In June 1844, the Glaciarium opened in London, after a couple of smaller rinks concocted by inventor Henry Kirk convinced investors a bigger venture was commercially viable.

It wasn’t, as the public never quite adjusted to the smell of the “ice” — a mixture of salts, sulfate of copper, and lard — and the Glaciarium closed within the year. Luckily, artificial ice has come a long way since those early beginnings, and you no longer need to wear a mask over your nose to enjoy a skate.

The first true synthetic ice surfaces — formed from a plastic known as polyoxymethylene — arrived in the 1960s. But, with rough, draggy surfaces that required skates to be re-sharpened in less time than it takes to play an NHL period, they were slow to catch on.

You also couldn’t skate across the plastic polymer without applying silicone on top. As you might expect, the oily compound on top of the surface was a magnet for dirt and grime. 

The origins of modern synthetic ice aren’t pretty, but they paved the way for today’s self-lubricating and non-smelly product that reproduces roughly 90% of natural ice feel.

Things are different now.

There are a variety of products on the market, some claiming a coefficient of friction roughly the same as real ice, while others claim no reliable scientific comparison exists. But inarguably, synthetic ice is gaining wider acceptance as a tool for NHL players — as well as amateur skaters of every stripe — to augment their time on a frozen pond.

Many NHL clubs, as well as semi-pro and amateur leagues, use synthetic ice rinks for practice these days while regulation games are still played on natural ice, that used to be the case for grass football fields as well. 

Time was that only natural grass was used in professional games and stadiums, or championships like the Super Bowl. Then, artificial turf got better and better, coming closer to the performance of real grass and outperforming it in others. Now, 32 NFL teams play their games on artificial turf. 

NHL hockey may not be far behind as synthetic ice continues to advance in glide, performance, and durability. A top-of-the-line KwikRink Synthetic Ice ® rink installation is much less expensive than installing and maintaining a natural ice rink.

The cooling costs to keep the rink at the proper temperature and humidity are very high for a natural ice installation, leading more clubs to use synthetic ice as much as they can. In the NHL now, synthetic ice is a reality.

Puck-Friendly Playability

Unlike most rink alternatives, synthetic ice allows the use of a real puck. Thus, many around the NHL have embraced such surfaces as an economical way to extend opportunities to shoot and handle the puck.

Heading into the 2017-18 season, the Toronto Maple Leafs installed a synthetic pad at their training center — a shooting range next to their main rink displayed as a 60-foot zone from the blue line (pictured above).

Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, who this year became the youngest Lightning player ever to score 100 points in a season, works on his shot on a synthetic pad in his two-car garage — 20 minutes per session, twice a day during the offseason.

Many other current and former NHL players have installed synthetic ice for personal use as well. Garages, basements, driveways, and decks can all become practice rinks to keep specific key skills up to par, and it’s not just for the pros.

Training’s Friendly Faux

Most of us, when we can’t afford or access ice time, have limited training options: a slide board, roller blades, maybe a nice tile floor and a portable net. But there’s no real puck, no ice skates,  and no opportunity to work on many of the skills you’ll need on the ice.

When you train, you build muscle memory, so you want your muscles to learn the way the skill feels under the conditions you will use it. Practicing shooting in your tennis shoes or even on roller blades isn’t the same as putting on your skates and working with the glide and friction of ice.

Synthetic ice affords the opportunity to practice shooting, stick-handling and skating on a surface that closely mimics a real rink. Some of the training benefits of synthetic ice include:

  1. It’s easier than ice. With synthetic ice, there’s no refrigeration and no climate control necessary to maintain a surface that can be installed in virtually any indoor setting from a basement to a garage to a warehouse. And a vacuum is a lot cheaper than a Zamboni.
  2. It’s harder than ice. You see runners doing sprint training harnessed to parachutes. Baseball players swing weighted bats. Pro hockey players know one of the great benefits to synthetic ice workouts is that the material isn’t quite as smooth as the real thing — it takes more effort to get where you want to go. It’s a subtle boost to your workout that will make you feel that much faster when you hit the ice.
  3. It’s cheaper than ice. Especially in warm-weather months and climates, real ice is hard to find, and time on it can get expensive. Synthetic ice is one way to clear the cost and availability hurdles, and can even be installed on a smooth outdoor surface.

Melting Apprehension

You won’t have to worry about rising temperatures, melting ice, or unsafe surfaces when you use synthetic. You also don’t have uneven spots or dips from different temperature levels.

When it comes to skating surfaces, it might not be ice — but synthetic products are still pretty cool. At least, that’s the take the Florida Panthers came away with when hosting the first hockey clinic in Barbados during the summer of 2017.

On a 60-foot-by-35-foot synthetic surface, locals showed some impressive skills.

“It’s a little bit different skating on,” defenseman Alex Petrovic said. “But some of the kids that come here regularly are actually really good at skating on it.”

Pay attention to the kind of synthetic ice you plan to install. There are varying levels of quality, durability, and glide. Thinner panels are less expensive, but wear out much more quickly. Inferior polymers lead to higher friction and resistance and less ice-like feel. Smaller tiles instead of larger panels lead to additional seams that can trap dirt.

KwikRink has helped install synthetic ice rinks for NHL teams and players for years. We’ve also helped private citizens convert a garage into a practice rink and communities that have never had access to ice skating learn the fun and sport. 

With synthetic ice from KwikRink, more people around the globe can become skaters. Maybe the next Stanley Cup MVP will be from Barbados, and he learned to skate on synthetic ice.

Which is really the point, isn’t it? Synthetic ice can help create better skaters — and shooters, and stick-handlers — anywhere by reproducing the playability characteristics of ice at a fraction of the cost.

 

Author bio: AJ Lee is Marketing Coordinator for Pro Stock Hockey, an online hockey store that offers pro stock hockey equipment. He was born and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, and has been a huge Blackhawks fan his entire life. AJ picked up his first hockey stick at age 3, and hasn’t put it down yet.

Ice Rink

In Vadnais Heights (MN), you can find a brand new hockey school called Gentry Academy. The beautiful building that houses this school just completed in March. The Gentry Academy Galaxy are a sanctioned Tier 1 hockey program.

The training area is in the basement and will have a fully equipped surrounding workout area. The synthetic ice portion covers a roughly 35′ x 30′ area using KwikRink V synthetic ice. There is one NHL goal crease in the surface to accommodate goalie training.

The area will be available for students to practice for fun during downtime. There will also be formal training sessions with experienced instructors to supplement on-ice training. Gentry Academy has it all!

 

Synthetic Ice

Synthetic ice from KwikRink is becoming an increasingly popular tool to supplement off-ice training in youth hockey associations. Many associations struggle to find adequate ice time in their local community to support youth hockey development. Both traditional and non traditional hockey areas are finding it increasingly difficult to supply the growing demand for ice time. This makes ice time very expensive, and also makes youth teams practice very late at night, or very early in the morning. In many areas, hockey moms and dads have to drive countless miles just to get their child to the ice rink. Many of these hockey associations are turning to KwikRink commercial synthetic ice to help remedy this problem.

Woodbury Area Hockey Club (WAHC) is a youth hockey association located in the eastern part of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Woodbury has a large hockey association and only so many rinks to go around. They recently purchased the rights to Harding Ice Arena in St. Paul, MN. Harding was an arena that was no longer in use, and WAHC saw this as an opportunity to create ice time that was so desperately needed. Woodbury wanted to use as much of the building as possible for training, not just the one sheet of ice that the building already has. In a spacious 70′ x 30′ area upstairs next to the ice sheet, WAHC installed a beautiful training area consisting of; 4 shooting lanes, 1 goalie training lane, and 2 stick handling zones. (pictured above). KwikRink works closely with the purchaser to help design the optimal layouts for an alloted space.

Supplementing KwikRink synthetic ice is an inexpensive and convenient way to create more ice time for youth hockey players. The sport of hockey has been growing every single year. We have seen 100,000 more members to USA hockey in the past 10 years alone. Demand for ice time will continue to increase, and the current construction of ice rinks is unable to adequately supply what is needed. Supplement with KwikRink synthetic ice surfaces and #DontSuckAtHockey!

 

 

21
September

10 Dream Home Rinks

Posted by KwikRink

Hockey nuts will love what this article has to offer. At KwikRink we have serviced several private residences with their own home ice advantage. Generally, the client installs a home rink for their kids (or themselves) to have fun and train for hockey. Others will dedicate an area in the house for shooting pucks in between periods of the game. Some do it, simply because they can, and they love hockey. Below are 10 ideas for your dream home rink. “If you build it, they will come” rings true. You wont be able to get the kids off of this (or their teammates), so I would recommend investing in convenient feeding strategies like the pizza oven offers. The best perk for parents is that the home rink acts as a babysitter, so mom can get a little more of that “me” time she deserves. Some supervision may be required for when the games get a little heated. We have yet to hear of any bench clearing brawls, however.

 

Basement Overlook Rink

Michigan Indoor Basement Hockey Goal Practice

This Indoor Basement rink is actually a level lower than the rest of the basement. It features a plexiglass protected overlook viewing area equipped with a ledge, and bar stools for the parents. How about some ice cold beverages and hockey?

Pole Barn Rink

Indoor Synthetic Ice Hockey Rink in Rochester

This hockey family put a home rink in an added on pole barn. Roughly 50′ x 25′ area allows some fun and fast paced games. The high ceiling is an ideal setup for flying pucks!

Backyard Rink

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This 32′ x 16′ back yard rink is one of our favorites. There is nothing like skating in the middle of July surrounded by woods, is there? I can envision some backyard hockey tournaments complete with a family BBQ. Maybe even some fireworks, as the teams enter!

Garage Stall Rink

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If you have one garage stall to spare, this 18′ x 10′ size area could become a nice little home rink for you. This rink has enough size to improve stick-handling, shooting, and skating agility. Check out our blog on small area games if you aren’t buying it.

Under Garage Rink

indoorrink-2

An under garage space with odd dimensions, and cut outs, turns into a game-ready indoor rink. This one has an off camera penalty box, and mom is the referee.

Upstate NY Outdoor Rink

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Ignore last nights rain on this one. Let’s just say the Zamboni driver had a few too many, and didn’t resurface properly. This 40′ x 20′ outdoor rink with markings and boards is really something to admire.

Ex-storage Room Rink

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Another 18′ x 10′ size rink with a view from the locker room, fully equipped with rubber matting for changing into skates. This rink offers a crisp and clean look, completed by the NHL style dasher board system.

Ex-Playroom Rink

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How about a playroom that the kids will never grow out of? This family dedicated a portion of their home for this, roughly, 34′ x 13′ size rink. I would look for these kids in the 2030 NHL draft.

Minnesota Wild themed Rink

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Building a home rink is all about getting creative and having fun with it. This rink was certainly fun to install. A really nice sized 20′ x 13′ rink equipped with a shooting tarp, and NHL player Fatheads, bringing this one to life. What team do you root for?

Castle Rink

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Okay, so this actually isn’t beside a real castle, but it sure looks like one, and provides a really cool home rink. Beware of flying pucks above to the king and queen of this castle.

The above pictures just show some of the ideas out there that have been done. These home rinks certainly require some dedication, and most likely some passion for the game of hockey. Having a home rink allows unlimited ice time and fun. If you get creative enough, you can probably do something like this at your home, and the hockey players of the house will surely be happy. The first step is to find an available space around the home, and then send in an inquiry for a quote, and free design ideas. KwikRink are the experts in the synthetic ice industry, and have been designing layouts for home rinks and training centers around the world for the last 20 years.

 

13
September

Goalie Training on KwikRink

Posted by KwikRink
Goalie Training on KwikRink

KwikRink synthetic ice has been an extremely popular tool for goalie training at all levels. Professional and amateur goaltenders regularly use KwikRink to supplement their on ice training. The surface allows goalies to practice slides, and all the skills that they would on real ice at a fraction of the cost. Many goaltenders will install KwikRink synthetic ice in their own home to create an unparalleled home ice advantage when it comes to training.

KwikRink is featured in many goalie training camps around the country. MEGA Goaltending, a Minnesota based goalie training camp, has used KwikRink as part of their training regimen for several years. MEGA consists of highly experienced staff members working with a small group of goalies to offer a truly in depth goalie training experience. A synthetic ice area with two creases was recently installed at Elk River Ice Arena to add to their arsenal of training tools.

“KwikRink has become a proven and invaluable surface for us to use when working with our goaltenders. We have found KwikRink to be the ideal surface for us to train our goalies on save techniques and receive a ton of repetitions. It also allows us to keep the costs down for families, in comparison to the cost of training on ice. We have trained over a thousand goalies on KwikRink synthetic ice, and the results have been fantastic.”

– Justin Johnson, Founder of MEGA Goaltending and Minnesota Golden Gophers Men’s Goalie Coach

The first synthetic ice crease was created by KwikRink in the late 90’s. Many residential clients will install their own goalie school inside their homes. The ideal setup has a permanent inset goalie crease, providing positional guidance, and has the depth and width to work on shots at all angles. An ideal goalie area would be something like 16 feet wide by 24 feet long. This would allow the goalie to work on common angles, as well as, taking screened shots. Many of these clients do not have this kinda of space in their home to dedicate to hockey training. You can still get a lot out of a goalie area with limited space. The minimum area would be 10-12 feet wide by about 16 feet long. This would still provide room to practice slides, and work at head on shots. When it comes to training, nothing compares to getting in your skates and doing the work.