Title:
Mini-stick hockey arena
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A portable miniature hockey playing arena for children to play hockey on their knees with miniature sticks has an upward facing play surface with markings thereon to indicate regions of a hockey rink. The playing arena also has a cushion material positioned beneath the play surface. The miniature hockey playing arena is rearrangable between a portable condition and a set up condition.



Inventors:
Samborski, Suzan Kelly (Westland, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/180713
Publication Date:
01/15/2004
Filing Date:
06/26/2002
Assignee:
SAMBORSKI SUZAN KELLY
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F7/06; A63F3/02; (IPC1-7): A63F9/24
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, KIEN T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARSHALL, GERSTEIN & BORUN (Bryan J. Lempia Sears Tower, Suite 6300 233 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL, 60606-6357, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A portable miniature hockey playing arena for children to play hockey thereon with miniature sticks, the playing arena comprising: an upward facing play surface with markings thereon to indicate regions of a hockey rink; and a cushion material positioned beneath the play surface, wherein the miniature hockey playing arena is rearrangable between a portable condition and a set up condition.

2. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 1, wherein the markings include a center line extending transversely across the play surface, a pair of offensive zone marking lines extending transversely across the play surface and spaced apart from one another on opposite sides of the center line, and a pair of goal lines extending transversely across the play surface and positioned one each near opposite ends of the play surface.

3. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 2, wherein the markings include a center face off dot positioned at the middle of the center line, a pair of offensive zone face off dots positioned laterally spaced apart from one another between each of the respective goal lines and offensive zone lines, and a goal crease positioned centrally extending from each of the goal lines toward a respective one of the offensive zone lines.

4. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 1, wherein the playing arena is rolled into one or more an elongate rolls of material when in the portable condition.

5. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 4, wherein the playing arena is folded one or more times prior to being rolled into the portable condition.

6. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 1, wherein the playing arena is folded one or more times when in the portable condition.

7. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 1, wherein the play surface further comprises: an upper layer providing the play surface; and a lower cushioned layer providing the cushion material.

8. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 7, wherein the upper layer and the lower cushioned layer are permanently affixed or adhered to one another forming a single playing arena structure.

9. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 7, wherein the upper layer and the lower cushioned layer are separate layers independently rearrangeable from the set up condition to the portable condition.

10. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 9, further comprising: a fastening device for removably securing the upper layer and lower cushioned layer to one another when in the set up condition.

11. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 1, wherein the play surface is formed at least in part of a vinyl material.

12. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 1, further comprising: an edge barrier positionable around the perimeter of the play surface.

13. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 12, wherein the edge barrier comprises: a plurality of foam wall sections each having a front vertically oriented surface that faces the play surface when in the set up condition and being positionable end to end around at least a portion of the perimeter of the play surface.

14. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 12, wherein the edge barrier comprises: a plurality of plastic screen structures each having a vertically oriented screen surface and being positionable end to end around at least a portion of the perimeter of the play surface.

15. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 12, wherein the edge barrier comprises: one or more air inflatable tubes being positionable end to end around at least a portion of the perimeter of the play surface.

16. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 12, wherein the edge barrier comprises: a netting structure positionable around the entire perimeter of the play surface.

17. A portable miniature hockey playing arena according to claim 16, wherein the netting structure extends over and is spaced upward from the play surface to completely enclose the play surface.

18. A portable miniature hockey playing arena for children to play hockey thereon with miniature hockey sticks, the playing arena comprising: an upper layer having an upward facing play surface with markings thereon to indicate regions of a hockey rink, wherein the upper layer is rearrangable between a portable condition and a set up condition; and a lower layer including a cushion material and positionable beneath the upper layer, wherein the lower layer is rearrangable between a portable condition and a set up condition separate from the upper layer.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention generally relates to children's games, and more particularly to a rink or play area for use with miniature hockey sticks and goals.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] Children's toys and games are well known to include miniaturized versions of many different adult games and game implements. An example of such miniature game implements includes hockey equipment such as hockey sticks and hockey goals. Children have been known to play “impromptu” or improvisational hockey games using these miniature sticks and goals along with a ball or puck. The ball or puck that is used can vary and can be either be a miniature or a regulation sized ball or puck. Such a mini-stick hockey game is typically played by children with their shoes removed, in their socks, and on their knees.

[0003] To play the game, children often will determine and agree on a play area or “rink” within which to play a game using the miniature equipment. They will often play an impromptu hockey game using these miniature objects in virtually any environment. However, the outer boundaries for the game playing area in one example are first imagined by the players, and then discussed, agreed upon, and mutually understood by the players. Alternatively, the game playing area sometimes is marked off by the players using available objects such as shoes or other handy items. Such play area boundaries still require some imagination by the players, as the marking items are often spaced quite a distance apart.

[0004] Disagreements among the players can frequently arise as a result of playing a game within such undefined play area boundaries. Many of the disagreements occur based on a misunderstanding of the rink or play area boundaries, or a disagreement as to whether a portion of the game took place within or outside the imaginary boundaries. Disagreements can often result in verbal arguments among players, or even physical confrontations between the players. Such actions can reduce enjoyment of the players, disrupt the game, prematurely end the game, and/or cause emotional or physical injury to one or more of the players.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0005] Objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon reading the following description in conjunction with the drawing figures, in which:

[0006] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mini-stick hockey arena in a set up condition and constructed in accordance with the teachings of the present invention.

[0007] FIG. 2 is an enlarged view of one comer of the hockey arena showing the upper and lower layers of the play surface.

[0008] FIG. 3 is a perspective view showing the upper layer of the play surface being folded in half and rolled up to a portable condition.

[0009] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of both the upper and lower layers rolled up into a portable condition.

[0010] FIG. 5 is an end view of another example of an edge boundary for the mini-stick hockey arena as shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0011] A portable miniature hockey rink or play surface is disclosed for use with miniature hockey sticks and goals. The portable rink can be easily set up, broken down, and transported as needed. Also, the rink provides a standardized game playing environment for the players. The rink or play area boundaries are determined by the size and structure of the rink, thus, eliminating or substantially reducing disagreements among players otherwise resulting from unclear play area boundaries. Also, the rink provides a clearly marked play area or rink when in the set up condition which eliminates the need for the players to determine, agree upon, and set up the boundaries. Once the rink is set up, the boundaries are automatically set so that the players can immediately focus on playing the game. Further, when a game is over, the rink can be easily returned to the portable condition for storage or transport.

[0012] Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows one example of a hockey rink or arena 10 that is specifically suited for use with miniature hockey sticks 12 and goals 14 and for use by children “C” playing hockey on their knees. In this disclosed example, the arena 10 has a play surface 16 provided on an upper layer 18 (see FIGS. 2 and 3). The upper layer 18 and the play surface 16 have an outer perimeter that defines the play area of the arena. In one example, the perimeter is rectangular and is about 9 feet wide and about 21 feet long. However, the size and shape can vary considerably from that shown and described and yet fall within the spirit and scope of the present disclosure. For example, the corners of the rectangle can be rounded, if desired, similar to the shape of a conventional ice hockey rink.

[0013] The play surface 16 is formed in this disclosed example having a light colored background 20 area, similar to a generally white ice surface of an ice hockey rink. The disclosed play surface 16 is also formed having lines, circles, and other features demarking various zones or regions of a hockey rink on the light colored background area 20.

[0014] For example, the disclosed surface 16 has a center line 22, with a center face off dot 24, provided thereon and laterally traversing the center of the surface. The center line 22 and circle 24 represent a center ice red line and face off circle of an ice hockey rink. A pair of offensive zone lines 26 are positioned on opposite sides of and spaced from the center line 22 and represent the blue lines of an ice hockey rink. Similarly, the surface 16 has a pair of goal lines 28, goal creases 30, and offensive zone face off dots 32 positioned laterally spaced apart within the opposite offensive zones or ends of the surface. The surface 16 can have other markings as desired, including advertising, neutral zone face off dots, face off circles, team logos, and the like, to further simulate an ice rink surface. As shown in FIG. 1, the pair of goals 14 are positioned one each at opposite ends of the play surface 16 along the goal lines 28 behind the goal creases 30.

[0015] In one example, the upper layer 18 is formed of a relatively heavy material from the vinyl family. Vinyl materials are formed from ethylene and typically are tough and flexible and have a smooth, relatively shiny surface. The upper layer 18 can alternatively have a vinyl layer defining the play surface 16 that is carried on a thicker, strong, flexible substrate of a different material, if desired. The upper layer 18 can also be formed as a multiple material layer structure with the layers adhered to one another, if desired. The particular materials and construction for the upper layer 18 can vary and yet fall within the scope and spirit of the present disclosure.

[0016] As shown in FIG. 2, the disclosed arena in this example has a lower mat or cushion layer 40 positioned beneath the upper layer 18 when in the set up condition. The lower layer 40 is formed of substantially the same size as the upper layer 18 and underlies the upper layer to provide a cushion beneath the play surface 16. The lower layer increases the comfort and enjoyment of the players. The lower layer can be formed of virtually any flexible material, such as rubber, layered rubber, dense foam, layered plastics or vinyl materials, combinations of these materials, or the like. The material should, however, be relatively resilient when compressed to firmly support the players on the play surface 16 and yet act as a cushion between the play surface and a hard ground surface beneath the lower layer. Again, the lower layer 40 can also be formed of multiple material layers adhered to one another.

[0017] The upper layer 18 and lower layer 40 can be formed as two separate layers as shown herein. The layers can simply be formed to lie against one another without any means of attachment. The weight of the lower layer 40 will prevent it from moving relative to a ground surface on which it rests. The lower layer can be formed having a bottom surface that induces friction between it and the ground surface. Similarly, either or both the top surface of the lower layer 40 and the bottom surface of the upper layer 18 can be formed to induce friction therebetween to prevent relative movement of the two layers.

[0018] As schematically illustrated in FIG. 2, the two layers can also be provided with some means to positively and removably join them together. For example, strips of hook and loop (VELCRO®) fastener 42 can be intermittently applied along the edges of the two layers. One portion 42a of each strip of the fasteners can be applied to the bottom surface of the upper layer 18 and the other portion 42b of each strip can be applied to the top surface of the lower layer 40. The fasteners 42 will retain the upper layer 18 in position over the lower layer 40 during use. As will be evident to those having ordinary skill in the art, other types and methods of fastening the two layers can be utilized without departing from the scope of the present disclosure.

[0019] In another alternative, the play surface 16 can be provided as one arena structure 44 that is formed of multiple adhered or co-extruded material layers 16, 44a, 44b, for example (see FIG. 5). The play arena structure 44 includes or provides the functions of both the upper layer 18 and lower cushion layer 40. In such an example, the multiple adhered layers would provide both the play surface 16 of the upper layer 18 and the cushion feature of the lower layer 40 and yet be a single integral structure.

[0020] Turning to FIGS. 1 and 5, one or more different structures or edge barriers can be utilized, if desired, to assist in retaining the ball or puck within the confines of the play surface 16 during play. These same structures can also provide clear physical boundaries for the edges of the play surface 16. In one example, a plurality of plastic netting structures or screens 50 are set up end to end along the edges of the play surface 16. Each of the structures 50 is a self standing unit having a vertically oriented interlaced screen 52, a sturdy frame 54 surrounding the screen, and horizontal support legs 56 for supporting the screens upright. In one example, the plastic netting structures are formed of molded polyvinylchloride (PVC) plastic.

[0021] As a supplement to or as an alternative to the screens 50, one or more air inflatable tubes 60 can be positioned along the edges of the play surface 16 to act as a barrier for the ball or puck and the players. The tubes can be elongate cylinders and have a round, rectangular, relative flat, or other desired cross section. The tubes 60 can be removably securable to the edges of the play surface 16 by any suitable means, such as a tie down or tether arrangement, hook and loop fasteners, or the like. Alternatively, the tubes can be freely rested along the edges of the play surface 16 without being fixed to any part thereof. In FIG. 1, the plastic netting structures 50 are shown along the side edges of the play surface 16 and the tubes 60 are shown along the end edges for simplicity of disclosure. However, either the screens 50 or the tubes 60 can be provided around the entirety of the play surface 16, if desired.

[0022] FIG. 5 illustrates another alternative example of an edge barrier for the play surface 16. The edge barrier in this example is a plurality of foam wall sections 70 rested end to end around the play surface 16. Each wall section 70 has a flat, vertically oriented front surface 72 that faces toward the play surface 16, similar to hockey dasher boards. The foam walls 70 also have a horizontal bottom 74 surface arranged to rest of a ground surface that surrounds the play surface 16. The bottom surface 74 in this example is sufficiently elongate so that the walls 70 will freely stand with the front surfaces 72 arranged vertically. The walls 70 have a tapered thickness in this example so that the walls are thinner at the top. This shape can be provided to reduce weight and material quantity of each wall section 70. The wall sections 70 can also be provided with removable attachment means for securing the sections to the play surface edges, if desired.

[0023] As will be evident to those having ordinary skill in the art, the wall sections can have virtually any shape, other than that shown in FIG. 5, that is suitable to provide the upright orientation, the safety characteristics, and the vertical wall surface features. Similarly, the foam material an structure used to fabricate the wall sections can very considerably. For example, the wall sections 70 can be either open cell or closed cell foam, and can be made from foam rubber (air filled latex) or other such soft, spongy, lightweight materials.

[0024] The foam material of the wall sections 70, as well as the air filled tubes 60 and screens 50 will provide safe and fun alternative barriers for the arena 10. The players can safely crash into the barriers and shoot balls or pucks against the barriers without causing harm. All of the barriers are also light weight and easy to transport.

[0025] In another example, the edge barriers can be replaced by an entire enclosure that will keep the ball or puck in play at all times. In one example, a lightweight netting structure such as a mosquito netting can be positioned around the perimeter of the play surface 16. In a further example, the netting can extend over the top of the play surface completely enclosing the rink.

[0026] As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the mini-stick hockey arena disclosed herein can be changed from the set up condition shown in FIG. 1 to a portable condition shown in FIG. 4. In this example, the vinyl upper layer 18 can be folded longitudinally along its center in the direction of the arrow “F”, for example, as shown in FIG. 3. The layer 18 can be provided with an integral fold line if desired. Other fold patterns are certainly possible as well, such as folding one or more times in a transverse direction. Once folded in half, the upper layer 18 can be rolled in the direction of the arrow “R” to its portable condition (see FIG. 4) for storage and/or transport. The lower layer 40 can be similarly fabricated for easy folding and rolling up, as shown in FIG. 4. In one alternative, the layer or layers can be designed to incorporate a plurality of fold lines such that the layer or layers fold up into a generally flat, folded portable condition, if desired.

[0027] Also if desired, each of the rolled or folded layers can be provided with a means to secure them in the portable condition. A tie strap, a hook and loop arrangement, a snap arrangement, or the like can be provided to hold each of the layers in the portable condition for easy carrying and storage.

[0028] Although a particular example of a mini-stick hockey arena has been disclosed and described herein in accordance with the teachings of the present invention, the scope of coverage of this patent is not limited thereto. On the contrary, this patent covers all embodiments of the teachings of the invention that fairly fall within the scope of permissible equivalents.





 
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