Marty Allain was just looking for something to put a smile on the face of his five-year-old son, but a recent MacGyver-ed job involving a mini-tractor is putting a smile on the face of thousands across the continent.
His son, Nicholas Allain, loves Zambonis.
“Last year was his first year in hockey,” said Allain, and Nicholas would never leave the rink side to get changed until he had watched the Zamboni clean the ice.
The pandemic had Allain worried that hockey leagues like theirs in Kent South could be interrupted this year, so he built a rink for the first time in his backyard. The family of four has gotten good use of it, he said, even scheduling games with visitors while they were in the yellow phase of pandemic recovery, he said.
But the hockey plans didn't stop there. His son has a mini John Deere tractor, and Allain decided to tinker with it and turn it into a mini-Zamboni.
With water stored in a container on the back of the tractor, he attached a towel for the water to drip onto, and then the damp cloth sweeps the ice, he said.
The Zamboni is a hit.
Nicholas uses it every time the family is done skating, said his dad.
Nicholas really holds Zambonis in high regard. “Zambonis are the reason we have ice,” he said.
Allain decided to share a post of his son riding the home-made Zamboni on social media.
To the family’s surprise, the NHL took note. Marty was contacted by the league through Instagram on Friday, asking if the NHL could share the post. He agreed.
“As soon as it happened, all my local friends started texting me,” he said. It became a point of connection for old friends he hadn’t chatted with in a while too, he said.
It seems that the post was what many needed at this time, something to put a smile on their faces, he said.
Allain said the take-away is, “Be creative and do something your children will like.”
He made the contraption for his son, he said, adding it’s great that it has brightened the day for so many others in the process.
The NHL's social media director said this was an adorable moment the NHL was eager to share.
"One of our guiding mantras is ‘humans over highlights.’ While we aim to share the amazing skills that our players showcase on the ice every night, there are so many great moments in the sport of hockey that occur outside of NHL arenas,” said Sean Dennison. “And since we’re currently unable to host a full arena of hockey fans at this time, we are always looking to share those #HockeyAtHome moments more than ever, especially the adorable ones, with our millions of followers across our social media platforms.”
As of Monday evening, the video of Nicholas driving his Zambonii had close to 600,000 views on the NHL's Instagram page and over 1,000 comments, many of which were encouraging comments about the five-year-old's future prospects in various roles in the NHL.
• The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Initiative de journalisme local est financée par le gouvernement du Canada.
Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal