Hockey loving brothers build own ice rink during pandemic

FORT KENT, Maine — When the COVID-19 pandemic prevented two Fort Kent brothers from practicing with their hockey team in Canada, the teens found an innovative way to keep up with their hockey skills. Nathan Voisine, 15, and Connor Voisine, 14, built an ice rink in their own yard. 

The brothers played on the St. Francois Panthers in New Brunswick until COVID-19 restrictions halted the hockey season. 

Nathan Voisine also participates in soccer and track and field at Fort Kent Community High School, where he is a sophomore, but there is just something special about hockey, he said. “It’s the sport I got to love the most.” 

“As soon as I started playing, I loved the game,” Nathan Voisine said. “Every time I step on the ice I don’t want to get off; I want to keep playing.” 

Brothers Connor Voisine (left) and Nathan Voisine built an ice rink in their Fort Kent backyard during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jessica Potila | St. John Valley Times)

Paul Voisine, the boys’ father, obtained sheets of plywood for the ice rink through his employer, Daigle and Houghton. 

Nathan and Connor’s grandfather Peter Voisine of Fort Kent helped cut two by fours for the month-long project, as well as provided support. 

“He helped with mostly everything on the rink,” Connor Voisine said. 

The boys spent hours watering the 65-foot by 20-foot construction to form a rink next to their home. 

Lacking funds to purchase a Zamboni machine, the young brothers even made a handheld ice resurfacer out of some PVC pipe, which they use to smooth out the ice.

Peter Voisine said he is proud of his mechanically minded grandsons for building the rink.

“They really worked hard,” Peter Voisine said. “They’re hands on kids. They’re not into playing electronic games and all of that. They like to take stuff apart and put it back together.” 

The proud grandfather added that Nathan and Connor Voisine both work the potato harvest picking rocks and have a part-time weekend job washing tractor trailers. 

Nathan and Connor said when they are not working or doing remote learning through school, they spend time on their new home rink preparing for the day, hopefully soon, when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and they can rejoin their team. 

“It’s a fun team we’re with,” Connor Voisine said. “They’re nice to us and it’s just nice to play together.”

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