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Montreal couple creates mini Bell Centre in basement of suburban home

MONTREAL - To say Brigitte Chartrand, her husband and four sons have a passion for hockey and the Montreal Canadiens may be an understatement.

MONTREAL - To say Brigitte Chartrand, her husband and four sons have a passion for hockey and the Montreal Canadiens may be an understatement.

In fact, when the boys, who range in age from five to 12, get the urge to play ball hockey, they strap on their inline skates and head to the basement of their suburban home.

That's where Chartrand and her husband, Mathieu Crevier, have created their own mini-version of the Bell Centre, the Habs' downtown home.

Measuring 16 metres long and five metres wide, it comes complete with hockey nets, a red line, two blue-lines, company logos and the Canadiens "CH" logo at centre ice.

Crevier got the idea after going down to the cool basement to shoot a few pucks against the bare walls.

"He started by putting the gyproc on the walls and doing the plastering," Chartrand said in a recent interview. The drywall cost about $300.

With brush in hand and several gallons of paint, Chartrand then did the rest of the work.

She said what took the longest was coating the floor with glossy white paint and waiting for it to dry.

"We brought a couple of industrial fans down to dry the floor and that took about three days," said Chartand, 37.

She then used tape to outline the red line and the blue-lines before she stencilled corporate logos on the boards.

A computer and a projector helped with the logos, including one from her husband's business.

"We would go online and check pictures of the Bell Centre to see what they looked like," she said.

"We tried to copycat a lot of them while other logos are where friends and families (work)."

Chartrand also included the logo which is being used to mark the 100th anniversary of the Montreal hockey club.

Yellow Plexiglas baseboards were purchased from a Montreal firm and installed around the bottom of the rink.

Metal wire screens were also placed over the fluorescent tube lights on the ceiling to protect them from flying tennis balls and hockey sticks.

Chartrand said it took about two weeks to complete the transformation.

A small hockey scoreboard and timer were also set up using a computer monitor and some software she found on the Internet.

"We had a big inauguration party last October when we finished the whole thing and we invited about five couples with their kids," she said.

"There must have been about 13 kids (playing). It was quite funny, at one point even the daddies came down to play."

Chartrand said people who have seen the indoor rink can't believe how big it is.

"People think we're crazy," she added.

Crevier pointed out that a wall behind one of the hockey nets is made of plywood "so the big boys can shoot pucks" without damaging the wall.

The 37-year-old father admits he and his friends sometimes come down to the basement to play.

"We had to replace a couple of neon lights and that's it," Crevier added.

Chartrand said her sons invite their friends over to play several times a week.

The Crevier kids sport red Canadiens sweaters and the numbers on the back represent the last two digits of the year in which they were born.

Nicolas, who is 11, said his friends didn't believe it when he first told them about the basement rink, so he had to show them pictures to prove it.

Meanwhile, the young Habs fan is keeping his fingers crossed as the team continues its playoff series with the Boston Bruins.

"They're down a little this season, but I hope they beat the Bruins," he said.

"I just want them to go into the finals and win the Stanley Cup."

The Canadiens last did that in 1993.

 
 
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