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'Fortress of solitude': Video features man behind Newmarket rink

You can watch the documentary-style video spotlighting volunteer Chris Howie and his nightly battle against Mother Nature at the Lions Park community hockey rink
Lions Park Community Hockey Rink organizer Chris Howie with sports filmmaker Randy Frykas. Greg King for NewmarketToday

A new documentary-style video on Newmarket Lions Park community hockey rink begins with an aerial shot, showing resident Chris Howie hard at work preparing the rink overnight.

The five-minute video from Outdoor Hockey Club released last weekend highlights the work that goes into making a rink for the community to enjoy, with shots of Howie and his son preparing the ice before going home for the night.

“Chris Howie has spent countless hours at the Lions Park community rink in Newmarket and the evidence is as clear as the pristine ice he makes each winter,” the organization said. 

The Outdoor Hockey Club travels the country spotlighting different outdoor rinks. After months of prelude, Newmarket got a video feature after winning a community vote in a contest run in partnership with CARHA Hockey. 

The video goes through a full night in the life of Howie, who has run the rink for years. Howie has worked constantly to ensure the rink is ready for kids throughout the winter.

“This is like my fortress of solitude to be down here some nights,” he said in the video. “It’s rewarding to, this year, save the ice a lot. It’s rewarding to beat the odds. It’s tough to win against Mother Nature.” 

Several in the community responded positively to the video.

“Amazing,” one resident said on Facebook. “It’s community leaders like you that make Newmarket the amazing community it is.”

The Outdoor Hockey Club and videos are the product of Randy Frykas, a documentary filmmaker who has worked on a variety of projects, including for Sportsnet. He came to Newmarket earlier this month to film for the video

“Chris leads a strong group of volunteers to help create a great space for the community to gather and enjoy outdoor hockey,” the Outdoor Hockey Club said. 

The full 16-minute video is available on the Outdoor Hockey Youtube channel