Denis Frappier has this outdoor rink thing down pat - and the Boston Bruins could not agree more.
This Friday evening, the Bruins will stage another virtual opening puck drop when they face the New York Rangers at 7:00 p.m.
The twenty second video played just before the start of the NHL encounter will feature the Frappier family from Val Therese, thanks to the efforts of both Denis and his wife (Andree), as well as their two children - Samuel (10) and Zoe - with the family dog (Boston) also making a cameo appearance.
"I've done this for seven years now," noted Frappier of his backyard project. "You learn little tricks, things like not hesitating to clean the rink. The cleaner, the better. And we cheat a little bit, putting a liner in so it essentially becomes a pool."
"The first cold weather we get, the kids can go skating."
This season, that first feel of a shiny blade piercing the pristine cover of the ice-glazed surface would come in November, at a time when most folks in these parts were only beginning to ponder an appropriate time to install their winter tires or set up the Christmas lights.
"Denis is really good at getting it started right off the bat," added Andree. "We are always one of the first rinks out. As soon as it freezes, we're on that rink."
In Sudbury, however, merely having an outdoor rink hardly makes one unique. Dozens that are somewhat similar to the Frappiers' endeavour are strewn across the region, from Levack to Coniston and all points in between.
Similar to the Frappiers, perhaps. Identical? Not even close.
Visitors to this local site would be hard-pressed not to pick up, in about half a second flat, the affiliation that this crew enjoys to their beloved Bruins. Logos on the boards are impressively decked out, but it is definitely the stylized team logo and larger than life Boston Bruins name that most catches the eye.
"My dad is a Montreal fan, but one of his friends was a Boston fan and it kind of rubbed off on me," said Denis. "Just their style of play, always a rough and tough style - and it's just not as much fun when everyone cheers for the same team."
"It's nice to have that rivalry."
While Andree teases that she was forced to jump aboard the Bruins bandwagon, at least one of the children is a Boston fan by virtue of cosmic intervention, an aligning of the stars, if you will.
"Sam was born in the year that Boston won the Cup, so I tell him that being a Bruins fan was just meant to be," noted Denis with a laugh.
In non-pandemic times, the Frappier family would, at the very least, be sure to catch the highlights of their Bruins in action. These days, the bond has grown stronger, helping to open the door to this wonderful experience.
"We watch almost every game," said Denis. "There is nothing else to do right now. We were watching the games and we saw that the public were dropping the puck to open the game. During the broadcast, they were advertising to send in your virtual puck drop video to be selected."
Twenty seconds does not make for much of a sales pitch, however.
"They wanted to know who you are and where you are from," explained Frappier. "You are supposed to say why you like Boston, but we couldn't fit that in - and then we did a little puck drop."
And just before the likes of Patrice Bergeon and Mika Zibanejad glide their way towards center ice, shortly after 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 26th, the spotlight will shine on Denis Frappier and his family, a wonderful testament to the loyalty of a hockey fan and his winter passion.