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home : sports : sports
January 24, 2021

1/8/2021 2:16:00 PM
Rink of Dreams lights up in Lindstrom
Jay and his wife, Danielle, with sons Ryder (right) and Jack (middle).
Jay and his wife, Danielle, with sons Ryder (right) and Jack (middle).

If you're driving down Olinda Trail on the South End of Lindstrom and you see large shadows dancing among the trees, don't worry about what could be in the woods, it's just a lighted Rink of Dreams, with Chisago Lakes squirt hockey players dashing up and down the ice.

Jay Danielson decided to build his own 60 foot by 120 foot hockey rink for his family. But this isn't just a hockey rink shoveled off on a weedy pond with some flood lights set up. Danielson, who owns Danielson Brothers Landscaping based out of Lindstrom, cleared some trees off his land, graded all the dirt, bought professional boards and did the whole process the right way. The result is a beautiful home rink for his family, including wife Danielle and sons Jack, 12, and Ryder, 10.

Ryder, who is on the 9-11 Chisago Lakes Mites team is the avid hockey player of the sons, and he was the reason the Jay decided to build the rink.

As a hockey parent, Jay said he understood how challenging it is to get ice time anywhere local, especially for lower level Mites and Squirts teams, and he knows not all the outdoor rinks are in the best shape. Although Ryder was the inspiration for the rink, Jay said that Jack, whose favorite sport is baseball, has now started to hone his skating skills and has shown to be a quick study on the ice.

So, in mid-October, he got the idea to build a rink for his boys to share with their friends and teammates. Danielson said that from idea conception to skate-ready ice, it took about two months and 200 man hours. He had to do all the landscaping prep work, but then had to install the boards and liner himself as well. After that, it turned into a waiting game as we've had a fairly mild winter so far. When the temps finally dropped to a suitable spot, it was a few long nights of flooding and staying up late to make sure the ice was in pristine shape.
The finished product is a sight to behold for a home rink.

It features 7,200 square feet of ice, which is enough for regulation three on three games sanctioned by youth leagues, which Danielson is looking into potentially hosting in the future. It features eight halogen lights that illuminate the sheet of ice in even the darkest Minnesota winter nights, and even protective netting on each end so pucks don't get lost in the woods on errant shots. Danielson even popped up his Ice Castle fish house next to the rink and there is a customized Chisago Lakes fire ring and benches for a warming house and gathering spot.

Danielson, whose company clears snow in the winter, purposefully reduced his winter workload this year, keeping only a select few contracts. He originally did it so he could enjoy more fishing this winter, but with the ice taking its time to form on local lakes, he needed a project to get him through, and this worked great. He maintains the rink mostly himself, using a snowblower to clear snow and taking a hose to it once in a while to make sure the ice stays fresh.

Many local outdoor rinks were devastated by the pre-Christmas storm in the area that dropped a lot of rain to ruin the ice, but then dropped a thick coat of snow on top. But, Danielson happens to have a shovel crew in his company and they came and joined him that night to help clear the ice, so he never missed a beat. "It was ready to go the next morning by 9 a.m. after the storm," he said.

Jay says he has gotten a lot of compliments already from parents and kids playing, saying it's better ice than most public outdoor rinks and that it's a type of mecca for these young kids to hone their skills.

"I just wanted to give my kids and their teammates an opportunity to improve as a team and work together without traveling so far," he said. "It gives them a chance for a lot more ice time."

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