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Synthetic Ice Gives Hockey Players Year-Round Rink

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - With the boys state hockey tournament less than a week away, young athletes are looking for any opportunity to hone their skills on the ice.

But with the pond rinks melting and arenas in high demand, players don't always get the practice time they need.

A Minnesota company is trying to change that. Kwik Rink Synthetic Ice allows athletes to skate on a specialized plastic - eliminating the need for actual ice.

Eight-year-old Jacob Pierson is on the Andover Huskies mites team. He understands the importance of spending time on skates.

"I want to be better than everyone," Jacob said. "Just to skate around whenever I can."

Jennifer Pierson, Jacob's mother, says finding the time to practice can be a challenge.

"It's very hard to find ice time. And a lot of times, you know, it can be inconvenient time. It can be really hard in the morning. And it's very expensive," Pierson said.

That is all about to change for Jacob and his team. The Piersons set up a synthetic ice rink inside their home, and the team is already getting good use of it.

"Our front door's always ringing right now. That's good," said Pierson.

Don Mason is the man behind Kwik Rink Synthetic Ice. The rink doesn't require cold temps or water. There just needs to be enough space to skate.

"They can play year round," Mason said. "You can skate on the back yard on the Fourth of July."

Don installs several 4-feet by 8-feet sheets of polyethylene plastic which fit together like puzzle pieces. The smooth, lubricated plastic allows kids to skate across the surface as if it were real ice.

"This gives these people here, these kids, an advantage where they don't have to go to the local rink," he said.

Two days of practicing on their new rink and Huskies team member Weston Knox hardly notices a difference.

"It's just awesome," Knox said.

Plastic ice is now giving hockey a real shot towards becoming a year-round sport.

The average Kwik Rink costs about $4,500. Youth hockey association fees - which typically cover ice time - can range from a few hundred dollars to more than a thousand dollars a season, depending on the age.

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