Forget the backyard — this is Whitehorse's ultimate front yard ice rink

Matthew Jenner says the inspiration came when local hockey hero Dylan Cozens was drafted to the NHL.

'We certainly put a lot of effort into the ice,' says Matthew Jenner

Matthew Jenner's front yard ice rink in Whitehorse's Takhini neighbourhood. (George Maratos/CBC)

There are backyard ice rinks — and then there's Matthew Jenner's front yard rink, that's knocking the socks off his neighbours in Whitehorse.

"I see a lot of smiles on their faces, so I'm kind of thinking that they're actually excited by it and probably living vicariously through what we're doing," Jenner said. 

"We certainly put a lot of effort into the ice."

Jenner started building the rink in November, with his family and another from the neighbourhood. It's just a stone's throw from the Takhini Arena.

Jenner says the inspiration came when local hockey hero Dylan Cozens was drafted to the NHL earlier this year.

"There was a whole ignition of excitement within our family, and really it was the kids that came out and said, 'Dad, we should just have an outdoor rink. Dylan had one when he grew up. We should have one too!'" Jenner recalled. 

'Just having fun building relationships with my neighbours,' said Jean-Sebastien Blais, left, who helped Matthew Jenner build the rink. (George Maratos/CBC)

The weeks of work that went into the rink show — not just in that smooth sheet of ice, but all the other fine touches.

A couple of floodlights glow overhead, the Montreal Canadiens' logo marks centre ice, and a row of hand-painted NHL jersey cut-outs line one side of the rink.

The jersey cut-outs were his son's idea.

"[He] said, 'Dad, we gotta do something to kind of spruce it up a little bit. So he took his jersey off and we traced it out and we started basically doing cookie-style jerseys and putting our favourite teams on them," Jenner said. 

Jenner and his kids cut out and hand-painted the jerseys that line one side of the rink. (George Maratos/CBC)

Off to the side, a wooden crate holds all the ice-making equipment.

"I think some people thought it was maybe a penalty box," Jenner said.  

The centre-ice logo was drawn by Jean-Sebastien Blais and his sons. They live just up the street and helped Jenner build the rink.

"My boys and I myself have spent hours watching, advising, looking at you know, if it's the right angle or not. Also like, just having fun building relationships with my neighbours," Blais said.

Work on the rink began in November. (Kiyoshi Maguire/CBC)

Blais says he grew up in family that would get together and play a lot of hockey at Christmas, so he wanted to recapture some of that when his in-laws came to visit last month.

"Our winter here is about playing sport outside, enjoying the cold, and to embrace it and spend nights having fun passing pucks around," Blais said.

Jenner says his home rink could be the start of a new tradition.

"I kind of think, based on my intuition so far, that it would probably happen again next year," he said.

With files from George Maratos


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