1965 – Rick Burns
“Clinton Backyard Rinks” Part 2
Thinking about all of this made me wonder exactly how much ice time we logged at the Peaches’. A conservative estimate: 25 hours a week, or about 400 hours a season. I played there regularly from the 2nd grade through the 9th grade, so about 3,500 total hours of my hockey career were played on the Peaches’ rink! And my hours weren’t any different than the others in the Peaches’ Backyard Gang: my brother Rod, Tom Dockrell, Bill, Tom & Joe Hameline, my cousins Nick & Dave, goalies Steve Eckerson and Kenny Hunt. Kids from other neighborhoods would show, too, like Jay Jenkins, Jim & Jack Kelly, Tim Reece, Jimmy & Mike O’Brien, Chis Conley, Gary Burdick, Will & Nat Heintz, and others I can’t recall at the moment.
Other rinks sprouted in later years, but smaller, more of a convenience for easy practice at home. There were a few that approached the Peaches’ perfection, like Jack & Jim Kelly’s rink at Woodlawn Avenue. Tim and Mark Reece’s on Meadow Street was a little smaller, but their Dad built mini-steel cages with real nets which were incredibly cool. My brother Rod and I set up a small rink in 1965 where Rod began his quest to wield the “immortal lapper”; and the Hamelines had a nice rink, too.
“Clinton Backyard Rinks” Part 3
Those backyard rinks were amazing fun. And while the Clinton pee-wee system was incredibly important to our skating and hockey skills development, these backyard rinks provided us thousands of competitive hours, further developing and honing those skills. Result: Our CCS team (including Tom Dockrell, who transferred to prep school) in 1969 had 10 players who went on to play college varsity hockey, and 3 more who played JV or Freshman, all who grew up playing on Clinton’s backyard rinks. Interestingly, best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book, “The Outliers” that, “….you need to have practiced 10,000 hours before you get good.” Well, over one-third of ours came from playing on Clinton’s backyard rinks.
Back to the Peaches’ rink—it was truly the gold standard of outdoor rinks in Clinton, and it got the most play. And it occurs to me that without their rink, how many of the players from that CCS ’69 team would have played college hockey? Many belated thanks to Bob, John, Tim, and Dave Peach—and to their parents, God rest their souls. I only wish I thanked all of them more often and more loudly for their contribution to our development and to Clinton hockey!
– Rick Burns