City Recreation and Parks Administrator Becca Medinger said Pickerington's outdoor ice rink in Victory Park has had its fair share of use in the five consecutive days it was open, starting Jan. 23.
Max Bournakov takes the puck down the length of the ice and shovels a pass over to Ben Hayes, who wheels around and passes back to Max, who then wrists a shot into the makeshift goal, a hard plastic trash barrel, for another score.
With daylight burning, there is little time for the two linemates and Easton Youth Hockey teammates to celebrate. The puck is fished out of the barrel and play resumes.
For Max and Ben and a number of other area kids, Pickerington's outdoor ice rink in Victory Park provides a welcome respite from having to drive to Easton to get their ice hockey and skating fix.
The advent of this winter's first real cold snap assured there would be unstructured, unorganized hockey to be played until dinner time or dusk, whichever comes first.
City Recreation and Parks Administrator Becca Medinger said the rink had its fair share of use in the five consecutive days it was open, starting Jan. 23.
"Before I went home on Friday, there were 10 people out there playing a hockey game," Medinger said. "I said to myself 'this is great.' "
Medinger said the ice rink provides another wintertime recreational option in Pickerington.
She said this is the third year the city has put up the rink and because of its popularity, it has increased in size every year.
The first ice rink, installed in January 2011, was a 20-foot-by-100-foot temporary rink constructed on the east side of Victory Park.
"The first year we did it, we didn't purchase it," Medinger said.
"We put together a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) piping type of thing just to see if people were interested," she said.
"Last year, we purchased a kit for a little over $5,000 and (made) the rink (size) 70 feet by 30 or 40 feet. This year we increased the size again to 40 feet by 100 feet," Medinger said. "This year, we went to the max on it."
Medinger said the kit was purchased from a company called Nicerinks, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer of portable outdoor ice rinks.
City Services Director Ed Drobina said it took "approximately 15,000 gallons" of water to flood the rink.
He said city crews perform "surface maintenance to smooth the surface" when it is frozen in order to get the debris, ruts and bumps out.
Pickerington resident Oleg Bournakov, Max's father, recalled playing hockey from dawn to dusk on the frozen ponds, lakes and rivers of his native Siberia, where the ice was like "glass."
He said he was appreciative of the chance to play outdoor ice hockey in Pickerington, even if just for a couple of days.
An unseasonable warm front that came through on Monday, Jan. 28, forced the rink to close, albeit temporarily.
Steve Paullin of the Parks and Recreation Department said the rink will be open throughout the winter; its availability weather dependent.
"If it gets cold enough, then we'll open it back up," Paullin said. "We just need a couple of days of (temperatures) being low enough below freezing."
Paullin did advise users "to skate at your own risk" and said the ice rink is not monitored by city staff.
"It's just like another piece of recreation equipment, like playground equipment," Paullin said.
He said he expects the city will get a lot of usage out of the ice rink.
"The days we had it open, we saw people out there every day," Paullin said. "The kids took advantage of it on weeknights, even for the little bit of daylight they had left."
Pickerington's outdoor ice rink is located on the east side of Victory Park, near the shelter house. It is free to use and open during regular park hours, from dawn to dusk, weather permitting. Users are advised to bring their own skates.
For more information or to check to see if the ice rink is open, go to http://www.ci.pickerington.oh.us/ or call 614-833-2211.