Mounds View's Andrew Bjorklund, left, says he and his teammates are excited -- and a little nervous -- about using wood sticks in the Mustangs' regular season finale against North St. Paul. Photo by Loren Nelson
Ten-year-olds playing with $200 hockey sticks.
For years the rising cost of hockey has been a concern for youth associations, coaches and most notably parents.
“We don’t know the financial situations of all the families,” Mounds View coach Rick Thomas said. “There could be a handful of them that aren’t playing because of the cost of the sport.”
With decreasing numbers in the Mounds View youth hockey program, Thomas is game for anything that signals a better – and cheaper – way to get families involved in the sport.
So when Torspo CEO Dave Soderquist suggested the idea of a wood stick high school game, Thomas was quick to raise his hand and volunteer his team.
“We actually let our players decide, knowing it had to be an official game we wanted them to be comfortable doing it,” Thomas said. “They all were really excited.”
So excited that Thomas says he has been asked repeatedly by his players if it is really going to happen.
Sure enough, Mounds View and North St. Paul will play at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16 at Shoreview Ice Arena, and both teams have agreed that all their players -- goalies included -- will use wood sticks throughout the Minnesota State High School League-sanctioned game that lands on the final day of the regular season.
Soderquist, whose company also owns the old Christian Brothers brand, says the players will be using Christian Pro 1000s, sticks that retail for as little as $24.99. Most high school players use composite sticks that can cost more than $250.
“A lot of kids just aren’t getting the chance to start, especially in our community,” North St. Paul coach Jerry Diebel said about the rising cost of hockey. “I have a son who plays, and I don’t know if I want to pay that much money.
“I philosophically agree with what Soderquist is doing.”
According to Soderquist the game is the first step in a program that
Christian Hockey will launch in 2013 to partner with major retailers
to make hockey more affordable.
Like most of his teammates, Mounds View leading scorer Andrew Bjorklund hasn’t used a wood stick since he was a just learning the game. He says the Mustangs are excited to turn back the clock by using the old-school equipment.
“I think it will be fun and exciting,” Bjorklund said. “We are a little nervous, because nobody really knows what to expect at this point.”
Added Thomas: “You are going to see some crazy passes, and heads up because I don’t know where the shots are going to go. I think it is going to be a fun night.”
Who: North St. Paul vs. Mounds View
What: Wood Stick Game (both teams have agreed to have all their players use wooden sticks)
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16
Where: Shoreview Ice Arena, Shoreview
More Information: Dave Soderquist, Torspo CEO, 612-868-2668 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Rick Thomas, Mounds View coach, 763-267-9524 or email@example.com; Jerry Diebel, North St. Paul coach, 651-773-0256 or firstname.lastname@example.org