A couple of years ago, hockey dad and coach Dean Dachyshyn started to notice a somewhat disturbing trend.
“I realized one of the biggest weaknesses kids have is stickhandling,” said Dachyshyn, a former pro hockey player with the Nova Scotia Oilers who now coaches his 11-year-old son on the peewee AAA Halifax Hawks.
“After practice, the hockey stick goes in the trunk of the car and doesn’t come out until the next game.”
Dachyshyn wasn’t the only one. Steve Hankinson and fellow Hawks hockey dads Tim Burke and Paul Behner also took note. Today, they’re the team behind Bedford’s Skillz Systems, a company hoping to foster a generation of stickhandling wizards.
Over the past few years, Skillz Systems has developed a product called QuickStickz that uses video game technology to help kids get their sticks out of the trunk. QuickStickz comes with a special ball and infrared camera — all you need is your trusty stick and some open floor space and away you go.
“The camera system tracks a special ball and the hockey stick controls the action,” Dachyshyn said. “The magic behind it is, you have to look at your computer screen (instead of looking down) to know what’s going on. You’re practising properly, using your peripheral vision, with the ball on your stick.”
Kids get to play a variety of games with the system, which gets them stickhandling when they might otherwise be sitting on the couch, using their thumbs on a video game controller.
“They’re getting better and don’t even know it,” Dachyshyn said.
Dachyshyn says the response from the hockey community has been positive since the product hit the market last month. Prince Edward Island’s Andrews Hockey Growth Program has added QuickStickz as a development tool, while individual sales have been increasing as word spreads.
“We’re hoping to revolutionize how kids learn how to stickhandle,” said Dachyshyn.
Visit quickstickz.com for more information.