Newton Company Rink Brings Backyard Ice Hockey Across North America

He attributes the peak of home rinks in large part to the increased interest in outdoor activities during the pandemic, from biking and surfing to ice skating. But EZ ICE has also stepped up its marketing.

Playing hockey since childhood, Gastel used to build a makeshift backyard skates with his father using plywood, drills and saws.

In 2016, he started selling a DIY ice rink which he touts as something that users can assemble in under an hour, on any surface, and without the need for typical construction tools.

Customers set up a perimeter around their yard by putting plastic planks together like puzzle pieces – held in place by brackets and straps – then lay out a tarp-like liner that will be flooded with water and, depending on the weather , will freeze in a surface rink.

Demand for the product was so high in 2020 that Gastel tripled the size of his team. Now, he said, EZ ICE employs about 20 people and sources rink components from a dozen manufacturers in New England and the Midwest.

The company delivers to clients in the United States and Canada, primarily serving families with children. It also sells to cities and military bases as well as to National Hockey League players and coaches.

Last year, Florence resident Travis Sias ordered an EZ ICE rink for his children while the commercial rinks were closed. His son plays for a team, he said, and has improved dramatically since he was able to train at home. And although his daughter usually didn’t play, having access to the rink stung him his interest in hockey.

“We didn’t want to leave her at home and leave her out,” Sias said. “So when we go out, like her friends come, she goes out and plays with us now and she loves it.”

He built benches and lights to make up for the early nightfall in winter, and when his son’s teammates came to train, they all headed out to the yard for hours after Sias got home from work. In the height of winter, the family used their ice rink daily.

Still, it can be a hefty investment – each setup can cost anywhere from $ 2,280 to $ 44,830 depending on size, wall height, and other features. Sias spent approximately $ 6,000 on the initial rink and subsequent improvements.

For him, it was reasonable folly because plastic walls don’t rot like wood could over the years. And because his family uses it so often, it’s cheaper than renting ice time at a hockey rink, which can cost hundreds of dollars an hour.

Gastel said word-of-mouth marketing has been integral to the growth of the company, which has installed its skating rinks in thousands of gardens since its inception, including nearly 2,000 in Massachusetts.

“[Customers] invite their friends, neighbors, teammates, cousins, everyone to skate, ”he said. “We will sell a rink in a city, then the following year there will be five more rinks in that city or sometimes even in the same neighborhood. “

Angela Yang can be reached at [email protected]

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