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Knee-Hockey Rink

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Ice is nice, but April is better known for, well, rain. That's when the hockey-crazed Saia family takes its favorite sport inside.

"Knee hockey" is played with a small foam ball instead of a puck and shorter sticks than the kind used in a regular rink. Players scoot around on their knees, obeying ice-hockey rules as they attempt to chase the ball into the other team's goal.

Sean Saia and his 10-year-old son, Cameron, built their 12-by-20-foot basement rink in a weekend, but they're still perfecting it, with finishing touches such as a ceiling-mounted model Jumbotron made from a cardboard box. Logos from local and national companies are displayed on the boards that circle the rink — just like in the NHL.

The only thing missing are the cheering fans.

The Saia Family: Parents Sean and Melanie Saia. Kids: Sierra, 16, Kelsey, 14, and Cameron, 10.

Tips for making your own knee-hockey rink:

  • Use laminated, 1/4-inch-thick, medium-density fiberboard panels supported with 2-by-3-inch lumber to create sides high enough to contain the ball — five feet behind the goals; 2.5 feet everywhere else. Doors to access the rink and players' box can be framed with 1-by-3-inch pine boards and finished with hinges and latches.
  • Lay down cushy carpeting to keep knees comfortable.
  • Kids can get involved by marking rink lines on the carpeting with colored duct tape, printing images for the boards or writing up original house rules.

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