By Debra Downey
The ice is nice at Southcote Road and Highway 53.
Mother Nature now just needs to put a hook on the frigid temperatures and score one for more balmy conditions.
The Sandy Tosh Memorial Hockey Rink at Southcote 53 has been in operation since just before Christmas, and while many enthusiastic hockey players and skaters have laced up for some fabulous outdoor fun, rink owner Graeme Tosh is looking for a break in the freezing winter weather to really get the crowds onto the ice.
“When I grew up, there were lots of outdoor rinks around, and this is an Olympic year, so it’s a great chance to do some really fun stuff,” said Tosh.
The local entrepreneur is one of the owners of the Unique Restaurant Group that owns five Hamilton establishments. Tosh said the idea for the rink took shape in the fall while he was surveying the acreage surrounding Southcote 53 Tap and Grill.
“I was just looking at the space and thinking what a huge property we have, and what could we do that is different, totally different and unique,” said Tosh.
The land first had to be levelled, then a Burlington company was brought in to install the ice, mesh and boards. Electricians put up poles for lighting so darkness doesn’t spoil the fun and a toasty warm trailer behind the stands serves as a change room.
Restaurant manager Steve Smith came up with the idea of converting a regular garden tractor into a Zamboni, complete with a brush, 220-litre plastic tank and flashing red lights.
On Family Day, Feb. 17, Tosh and Smith will throw open the doors to the rink for a free skate for families, with donations gratefully accepted for McMaster Children’s Hospital. On the March 1 weekend, a charity hockey tournament — featuring special guests Maple Leaf great Doug Gilmore and beloved broadcaster Ron MacLean — will take to the ice. Proceeds will go to the Canadian Diabetes Association.
The Sandy Tosh Memorial Hockey Rink at Southcote 53 is also available for family reunions, birthday parties, a good old-fashioned hockey game or for groups of people who simple want to savour some quality time together.
In the summer, Tosh plans to use the area for bands, live jazz and blues concerts, and outdoor movie nights.
“It’s all about having a good time,” he said. “It’s something different and really unique. We want to do things that other restaurants just aren’t doing.”
Next winter Tosh also has plans to expand the ice surface from its current 50-by-80-feet to 60-by-120 feet.
The hockey rink is named after Tosh’s dad, Sandy.
“When I was growing up, he used to take me out in the bitter weather for outdoor hockey skating,” said Tosh. “He passed away recently, so the rink commemorates him and remembers him every day.”
For booking information and rates at the Sandy Tosh Memorial Hockey Rink at Southcote 53, visit memorialhockeyrink.ca or call 289-239-8888.