Some people have a sports car, a minivan or even a riding lawnmower in their garage.Bob Caulfield has a Zamboni.

The Grand Forks resident picked up the green-and-white behemoth in 2012, and it goes perfectly with the hockey rink in his backyard.

It's not uncommon to catch Caulfield - a former college hockey player himself-taking it for a spin and getting the ice ready for his five kids and their friends.

"I wasn't out there looking," Caulfield said of the purchase. "Of course, you look around on the internet and plink around. It would be kind of cool, you know? But it was kind of cost prohibitive."

But an old Zamboni with the East Grand Forks Park District caught his eye. "I went over to their office and I asked, what's the deal with that Zamboni at the Blue Line Club? They said, 'Well yeah, it's for sale. we just sold it yesterday,'" he recalled. "And I was like, oh my gosh - my day is ruined. Then they said, 'Well, we have another one.'"

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And the rest is history. It works just like the one at Ralph Engelstad Arena - a few swoops around his backyard-sized rink, and swaths of snow disappeared off the ice.Hockey runs in Caulfield's family.

He was a player at Miami University in Ohio, and his kids have grown up near or on the ice. He remembers building a hockey rink at a previous home, and laughed as he recalled watching his kids peek out the window, waiting for him to be done.

"I'm the youngest of 8 sons, and I'm from Detroit Lakes (Minn.), and all my brothers and I played hockey," Caulfield, a professional photographer, said.

"I remember skating on the lakes there, and spent a lot of time outside. There are a lot of dads that build rinks. You'd be surprised."

The Caulfields moved into their current home on Belmont Road in 2012.

It used to have a tennis court in the backyard until Caulfield started working on an ice rink - he built the siding, spread some plastic sheeting and rented a fire hose to fill the rink.

"When we looked at the house, I was like, the tennis court's awesome," he said. "But I know what I'm going to do with it."It's been well-used since, though it's come with a few hiccups. This past winter, heavy, wet snow threatened to ruin the ice, creating what Caulfield called a "slush mess."

He tried to fix it, but didn't have too much luck.

"I just said to heck with it," he said. "I just let it sit, and a week or two later, everything froze, and I went over the Zamboni with it one or two times and it was great."

Two of Caulfield's sons - Judd, 14, and Collin, 17 - are playing with the Central High School varsity hockey team, which is skating in this week's state tournament. Collin said he loves having it there.

"It's nice to be able to just go out your backdoor and skate anytime you want," he said. "Early this season, we had the whole team over, and we had a 3-on-3 tournament. That was pretty fun."

Bob Caulfield said it didn't hurt his family's hockey skills, and Collin agrees.

"I think at a young age, it really helps," Collin said. "That's one of the biggest things for kids nowadays, is to get outside and skate. That's where (skills) really develop."

Bob Caulfield drives his Zamboni around the family's backyard rink in Grand Forks while Cassy Caulfield, Cole Spicer, Wyatt LaDuc and Carson Caulfield wait recently. photo by Eric Hylden / Forum News Service
Bob Caulfield drives his Zamboni around the family's backyard rink in Grand Forks while Cassy Caulfield, Cole Spicer, Wyatt LaDuc and Carson Caulfield wait recently. photo by Eric Hylden / Forum News Service