Goaltenders everywhere, beware — a digital version of you is on its way.
It's called The Great Wall of Hockey, and it was designed and built by three guys in the Hamilton area. While it will never replace a real hockey goalie, it's a pretty decent approximation for practice and shinny hockey.
“It's an interactive wall — something to get the kids off the couch,” said designer Steve Robinson. “It's like the Wii, but you really have to work at it.”
Robinson — along with his partners Al Martin and Lee Fairbanks — brought the wall to a Junior Bulldogs AAA team practice at the Mohawk Sports Complex Saturday.Al Martin (left), Lee Fairbanks and Steve Robinson are the creators of The Great Wall of Hockey. (Adam Carter/CBC)
Players spent the better part of an hour slamming pucks into it and trying to pick off targets. It wasn't easy.
The wall is made of the same sort of material as the stadium boards, and has five targets with electronic sensors placed at the five hole and the corners of the net.
The targets are digital, so the signal moves to test the shooter's hand eye coordination. Each one can be set to run from 10 seconds right down to half a second, which Fairbanks says would even test players at an NHL level.
There's also a “virtual goalie” option, in which the targets move at random. “All the players we've seen really appreciate the virtual goalie aspect,” said Martin, who designed the electronics.
He says the “virtual goalie” makes the wall a great option for shinny hockey, where teams are often short goaltenders.
The team is still testing the design and shopping it around to arenas in Ontario.
“Though we would love to be all across the country eventually,” Martin said. They're looking to start churning them out in the new year, doing short runs of about five to 10 initially.
But don't expect to see these popping up in too many homes anytime soon — it's still a specialty item.
One man found that out the hard way when he called Fairbanks to inquire about buying the wall for his grandkids to practice on at home.
He was quickly rebuffed when he found out it weighs 325 pounds and costs $7,500.
For more on the Great Wall of Hockey, visit Greatwallofhockey.com.