Your next hockey stick could come from a store rack — or it might instead be custom-made with the help of a former NHL player.
Lance Wolgemuth thinks most people would prefer the latter option, especially if it’s cheaper than the traditional retail route. He should soon find out, if Base Hockey follows through on plans to open a stick-fitting centre in Central Alberta.
Wolgemuth is spearheading efforts to bring Base Hockey to Alberta. The business, which has operated a “fit centre” in Burnaby, B.C., for about a year, was founded by retired NHL player Cliff Ronning and Ron Kunisaki, whose former company Innovative Hockey Inc. designed and manufactured hockey sticks.
Base Hockey customers undergo an extensive assessment, with their existing stick tested, their style of play and equipment discussed, and a high-speed camera used to photograph them shooting pucks. An appropriate stick is then designed, with shaft flex and feel, and blade curve, shape, depth, lie and silhouette all customized for them.
“The fitting takes about an hour,” said Wolgemuth, adding that the resulting stick arrives from Base Hockey’s manufacturer a few weeks later.
“Once a player gets into a Base stick and we get them properly fitted, they’re kind of a customer for life.”
Wolgemuth has known Ronning — who played in the NHL for 19 years — for some time, and decided to get fitted himself. He was so impressed, that he asked Ronning and Kunisaki to bring him on board with a small equity interest in their business.
At the time, they were contemplating opening their next fit centre in Toronto.
“I basically begged them to come to Red Deer,” said Wolgemuth.
Not only is Central Alberta a great hockey market, he explained, it’s a good location to serve the rest of the province. Wolgemuth is currently looking for suitable premises and expects to have the new centre up and running by the end of May.
Former NHLer Jeff Friesen is slated to look after fittings here, with Al Iafrate — another longtime NHL player — expected to help for a period of time.
Wolgemuth, who played professional hockey with the former Nashville Nighthawks of the Central Hockey League, is already selling Base Hockey sticks locally — albeit without a formal fitting. He’s had inquiries coming from Edmonton, Calgary and other Alberta communities.
“We’ve sold hundreds of sticks here in Central Alberta.”
Prices range from $100 to $175, which is much less than other leading composite sticks, said Wolgemuth. There is also a one-time fitting fee.
The waiting list at the Burnaby centre currently runs six to eight weeks, he pointed out.
Once its Central Alberta centre is up and running, Base Hockey may expand into other areas, such as small group training, said Wolgemuth.
Additional information about Base Hockey can be found online at www.basehockey.ca.