By Perry Lefko
In an area just south of Erin Mills Road and Highway 401, where many international corporations are located, is a building where the ground floor contains a showroom that looks like a miniature National Hockey League rink with replica glass, boards – and synthetic ice.
Welcome to the headquarters of HockeyShot Centre Of Excellence.
HockeyShot is a Canadian company doing significant things internationally as well as having its synthetic ice used and endorsed by many professional hockey players.
Developed in New Brunswick, 22 years ago by an engineer, HockeyShot expanded into the local area recently thanks to Steven J. Wong, a noted film maker, high-performance trainer and entrepreneur. Wong, who lives in Brampton with his wife and three children, became aware of HockeyShot four years ago when informed about it while training with longtime friend, Canadian champion figure skater, Elvis Stojko. The idea intrigued Wong, so he bought the synthetic ice product and had it installed at his home. Wong’s two sons play hockey, so it had a practical purpose, but he liked the HockeyShot products so much he invested in the company two years ago and is the now the global business senior vice president.
After picking out a strategic location for the Centre Of Excellence, he hired architects to design the multi-purpose state-of-the-art office-showroom. It includes a lounge-kitchen area and seating with various leather couches. High-tech videos featuring products that Wong has already produced are shown on multiple TVs throughout the facility. The office has production facilities for Wong to create content, which he plans to do with several elite athletes and coaches. When you combine the rink, which includes boards and glass that are similar to what is used in the Mattamy Athletic Centre and Ricoh Coliseum, it is truly impressive.
“Everything about this place is all about excellence – in our products, in our brand essence, in the people we want,” Wong said. “We want people in here striving for excellence – our customers, our staff, our team. Everyone is on a trajectory to become better and better and never settle for just good enough.”
The synthetic ice has been used and endorsed by NHL superstars such as Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov, Florida’s Aleksander Barkov, San Jose’s Brent Burns, New York Islanders’ John Tavares and Canadian national women’s hockey team star Marie-Philip Poulin. They also use some of the other HockeyShot products for developing shooting and stickhandling.
Wong has already met with Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey about potentially setting up some synthetic ice surfaces in the city.
“The synthetic ice will give people a chance to skate on it, try it and understand it before they spend money on it,” Wong said. “Our intention here is to give someone the experience.”
The synthetic ice is laid out in panels that connect together and cost, on average, $10 per square foot. Wong said for a typical space of say 800 square feet, combined with the various training aids and products such as a net, shooting target and a backdrop could amount to $10,000.
“For parents who have kids playing rep hockey, the triple-A fees, registration, travel and all that stuff, you’re looking at $30,000 a year,” Wong said. “So $10,000 is really not that bad if it’s going to extend (a player’s) ability to train from five hours a week on ice to five hours a day. Being on the ice five hours a week is just not enough. For triple-A players, you need to be skating 25-30 hours a week, but that’s impossible. No one can afford that much ice time. Now you can put this in your basement. My sons are on it three to five hours a day. It was like that well before I became a part of the HockeyShot team.”
Perry Lefko photo