Go big or go home! Downers Grove dad builds massive backyard ice rink for his kids

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (WLS) -- Chris Vangel's 12-year-old son, Nick, started playing hockey four years ago.

"He decided one day that he wanted to skate so we got him on the ice and he fell in love with it," Vangel said. Noticing a shortage of ice time, he decided to build his son a backyard ice rink unlike any other.

"I thought it would get him to enjoy it more and be better at it. With hockey, it's all about ice time and this was a way to have it done," he said. Little did he know he was about to become the most popular dad on the block.

He built a 135 by 50 foot rink behind his Downers Grove home complete with full height boards, a warming shed, and a lighting system. That's more than half the size of a regulation size rink, which is 200 by 85 feet.

"He thought it was a crazy idea at first," said Scott Cortwright, a friend of the Vangels and a carpenter by trade. "It's been amazing ever since and it keeps growing every year."

Cortwright assisted Vangel in building the neighborhood rink. On any given day or night there's dozens of neighborhood kids getting their ice time in.

Vangel keeps a revolving door and even purchased several pairs of skates just to keep on hand, for the neighbors who don't have their own pairs.

"It's great because the kids can just put on their skates and come by anytime they want," neighbor Bryan Sticha said. "Chris always has the door open and it's always available, even at night."

As for Nick Vangel, he may just be the next Patrick Kane.
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