Homemade Nickel Hockey Board

An impulsive game of nickel hockey between two friends socked in by a winter storm led to the creation of their nickel hockey board.

| November/December 1981

Winters can sometimes get to seeming like they'll last forever here in northern Maine. But last year—right smack in the middle of one of those storms that make a person wonder whether anything will ever be green again—my friend Alan and I came up with a game that's just what the doctor ordered for cabin fever.

Feeling restless, and not willing to start another round of the same old stories (mine about the time the tree almost fell on me, followed by Alan's much-recounted tale about his journey south) that we'd told all the other evenings, I flicked a nickel across the table at my friend. Alan knocked the coin back at me, I gave it a smart finger snap and sent it spinning back at him ... and inspiration smacked both of us at the same instant. It was a moment's work to set pairs of empty bottles up as goals, decide that only one digit could be used to defend (our first rule! ), and start playing nickel hockey in earnest!

Before long, though, my finger was mighty sore from winging that nickel around, and Alan was complaining that my aim (which, I'll admit, was on the inconsistent side) forced him to spend too much time scuttling across the floor after runaway coins. So I trotted out to the woodshed (noting, as I had done all too many times before, how quickly even hair freezes in 20 below zero weather!) and returned with a hunk of plywood and some odd lengths of furring strips.

Ten minutes of sawing and hammering turned those scraps into a first-rate hockey board. And while I was whipping the playing surface into shape, Alan whittled out a dandy pair of miniature hockey sticks! We had a fine time, making a shot here, inventing a rule there, and before long the game evolved into a pastime that's since proved popular with a crew that includes both homestead tots and stir-crazy loggers!

A Board for the Bored

You can throw together a rough-and-tumble nickel hockey board in ten minutes or so, or you can do as I eventually did, and make as fancy a playing "field" as your scrap lumber supply and woodworking skill allow. In either case, though, the design will be about the same.

Begin by cutting a piece of 1/2"—or thicker—plywood into a 16" X 24" rectangle (you can, of course, vary any of the measurements given here, but these dimensions are the ones that seem to work best for us).

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