For the 13th year in a row, a Fairbanks family has been recognized for the “Best Backyard Ice Rink” as part of the annual Hockey Week celebration in the local community. 

The rink was the brain child of Liam Brewer, 8. 

Brewer plays youth hockey here in Fairbanks on a team that won a tournament in the Mat-Su area last weekend. 

Brewer’s father, Billy, agreed to help his son build the backyard rink after Liam read the book “Brady Brady and the Great Rink.”

“He’s wanted it for many years,” Billy said. “So I told him he had to help put it together and keep it cleared off and taken care of and he’s been doing a great job.”

Liam — after calling to enter multiple times — won a $50 gift certificate to The Watering Hole water self-serve station in Fairbanks and helped his father haul 18 loads of water in a 275 gallon truck-bed water tank to fill the rink. 

“He’s done a great job,” Billy said. “He helped build it and he goes out there with the snow blower and shovels it himself.”

Liam began playing hockey at age 4, at which point Billy began coaching. He still coaches Liam, as well as his younger son Oliver, age 6.

“I definitely think we will build one again next year and for years to come,” Billy said.

Randy Zarnke is the central organizer behind the contest. 

“I essentially ‘created’ Hockey Week and added all the activities which make up the event,” Zarnke said, noting he visited the rinks Tuesday night and made the winning selection Wednesday.  “When I formed Hockey Week in Fairbanks, I wanted to include as many diverse activities as possible. I knew there were quite a few rinks in town and families were very proud of their rinks. It seemed natural the highlight the rinks.”

Zarnke noted as a side benefit, he thinks the contest has encouraged other families to build home rinks. 

“If nothing else, the contest has maintained the interest in home rinks,” he said. 

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.