Moncton entrepreneur gives new life to old hockey sticks
He shoots, he saves! Money, that is
Hockey players are eventually going to break a stick and Joey Robertson is counting on it.
He's the owner of Integral Hockey Moncton, a company that repairs composite hockey sticks.
The game has changed in the last decade when players mostly used inexpensive wooden sticks.
That can get expensive for many parents and Robertson has the solution. It's a relatively new venture for the part-time hockey referee who can now repair four sticks in one evening.
Epoxy and carbon fibre fix
For around $70, Robertson uses a special epoxy blend with carbon fibre strips to fuse the broken stick together.
It maintains the flex and adds just a few extra grams of weight. The result is a refurbished stick that performs very closely to a new one.
It's a great option for parents with multiple kids in an expensive sport, he says.
"They perform great. The flexibility is still there. It's just a bit shorter," says Robertson. "The guys that I've let them try, they're happy with them. They still have that nice flex and snap to it that the new sticks do. It's just a bit shorter because of what you cut out, depending on how it breaks."
She says she pays close to $1,000 a season just in sticks. With registration, gear and travelling, the hockey costs can add up. She sees stick repairs as a sensible option for parents.
"Yeah, absolutely. It's certainly a benefit to have something a lot cheaper if it's going to have the same result and it certainly would help out a lot," she says.
Vienneau admits the consensus among parents is that you just pay for the new stick and hope it lasts.
Her son understands the pressure his parents are under to keep him competitive.
That cost has the unusual effect of keeping Preston's emotions under control on the ice. "They always tell me not to slam them against the boards or anything so they don't break, so I definitely don't do that," he says with a laugh.
For Halifax hockey dad Steve Lowden, in town for the same tournament, repairing sticks has been a tough sell.
He tried a company in the past, and his son wasn't happy with the results. The shaft had a bulky joint on the outside and the flex was never the same. He was impressed with Robertson's work, however.
"Oh, definitely. It looks like a nice job, nice and clean, really unnoticeable. It looks good," he says as he flexes the stick.
Lowden says his son probably wouldn't use a repaired stick in an important game, but says it would be fine for practice or for use in a gentleman's league.
Robertson acknowledges that while he does provide an affordable option for players and parents, it's not for everyone.
"The higher the level, the harder it is to sell to them, because they're used to the new sticks."
While the performance of a repaired stick for a competitive player remains debatable, when pressed about how much money he's potentially saved parents, Robertson says that, too, is a mystery.
"I don't even want to guess, to be honest. Quite a bit of money."
In the eyes of many hockey moms and dads, that makes him this season's MVP.