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Canadian musicians and pickup hockey

Ever heard of the Exclaim Cup, aka The Hockey Summit of the Arts? It’s an annual hockey tournament, held on Easter weekend. There are some unique aspects to this 30+ team tournament to say the least. Teams not only play hockey but they also play live music sets at the evening Hootenannies at The Horseshoe. There’s also live rink rock playing at the games when the puck’s not in play.

If you’re a musician, actor, or otherwise make your living in an artistic manner AND you can play hockey, you have to find your way into this tournament. With teams from Montreal, Halifax and several from Vancouver, this is the pinnacle of music + hockey!

I’ve been lucky to play in the tournament off and on for over a decade, starting with the legendary Three Gut Feelings.

CAS7BlOWEAAyVL5 (1)This weekend I’ll be playing with the Guelph Royal Pains who have brought a trophy home the past two years. Along with catching as much of the live music as I can, I’ll be working on spreading the word about organizing pickup hockey using 20Skaters. I’m bringing along my friend John from HockeyTron as well. We should have some sticks for folks to try out and we will have some gifts and giveaways.

See you this weekend, make sure to find our setup and say hey!

Big data for your pickup hockey game!

noun_103066_ccWe’re working on end of season statistics for our weekly games. We have a lot of interesting data about our games, we want to share it with our organizers and the players in their games. We need your help figuring out what stats you’d like to see?

If you play in a regular game with us then please take less than 5 minutes to fill in this form letting us know what data interests you? If you aren’t a 20Skaters player today then join now, then go fill out stats form! If you organizer a weekly game, start organizing with us so we can provide you and your skaters stats!

Automate Your Weekly Pickup Hockey

The best people to explain a product or service are it’s customers. I love hearing our 20Skaters organizers pitch our service to other people. I learn something new everytime I witness this.

tumblr_mrhfwwxXq21spx4u4o1_500I once heard it explained as an RSVP service for your pickup hockey game. My favourite recent pitch was that we are a pickup hockey automation service.

Based on the fact we automate your pickup hockey enough that you can run it while living on a beach, I suppose it works. Know someone spending hours each week responding to emails, texts and phone calls in an attempt to run a pickup hockey game, let them know about our automation service!

Some other testimonials from our organizers….

With 2 games every week I thought it should be possible to automate the process, and keep the games full each week, and it has worked“, Tom in Ottawa

I’m happy to say that I am no longer subsidizing the game I love playing on a weekly basis, which makes it that much more enjoyable to play.”, Keith in Guelph

20Skaters has saved me countless hours organizing this year’s skate, it has simplified the process of collecting money from subs, and ensured a better turnout for us overall at our games this year. We are sold on 20skaters“, Danny in Toronto

Pickup Hockey, Uber and Corridor Principle

With the proliferation of ‘Uber for x’ businesses out there today, I hesitate to reference Uber but here goes…

1) Ever heard of Uber? If you haven’t, they are a multi-billion dollar company that is completely disrupting the way people move around cities.

2) Ever heard of the corridor principle? In a nutshell, you have no clue what doors(options) are available to you until you start walking down the hallway.

1 + 2) Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick openly admits that Uber was a fun lifestyle business when it began. “In the beginning, it was a lifestyle company. You push a button and a black car comes up. Who’s the baller?”

6783578732_7a19de0c82_zEven Uber alludes to the fact they may not have mapped out where they are today back when they began. While it applies to Uber as a business, the corridor principle applies equally as well to customers. While few people would describe the process of taking a taxi as pleasant, they also weren’t actively complaining. Until Uber allowed us to start walking down the hallway, we didn’t know what options were available and how much better the experience could become.

To date, every organizer who has tried automating their weekly pickup hockey game with us is still with us today. Until you experience it, it’s difficult to imagine how annoying, painful and time consuming it is to run a game. Chasing full timers to see if they’re coming this week, chasing subs to commit, last minute drop outs, forgot my wallet, this sucks why do we only have 11 skaters, and on and on….

It’s working, I’ve completely ditched my old spreadsheet entirely and love not chasing money and having it just flow into my bank account“, Tom (two game per week organizer in Ottawa)

If you play pickup hockey, trust us when we say that your organizer spends way too much time and money running it for you. Let them know about 20Skaters and suggest they fully automate their weekly game!

 

Pickup Hockey in Oregon

Last month we helped organize our first games in Oregon, specifically Eugene Oregon. That got us curious about the hockey scene in Oregon in general and Eugene specifically. Eugene is the second largest city in the state of Oregon with an estimated population of 159,000, which makes it just a bit larger than our home city here in Guelph, Ontario.

We asked our organizer Jake about the hockey scene and here’s what we learned.

There are 16 rec league teams with three skill divisions. About half of the teams in this league are apparently sponsored by local breweries. Those sponsorships often include beer for the team each game. Jake’s sponsorship includes four growlers each week for his team.

So a quick tangent here to peek at the beer situation in Eugene. This city has more than it’s fair share of beer and microbreweries. I’m starting to think a roadtrip is going to be required.

generalBack to hockey, Eugene has a tier three junior team named Eugene Generals. The University of Oregon also has a club team.

While our home city here in Canada sports eight busy ice surfaces, Eugene manages to survive with one. Their rink is a converted horse arena on the city fairgrounds. Previously called the Lane Center, it now goes by The Rink Exchange.

As with most cities, the age range for hockey and pickup play runs the gamut from 18 to late 60’s. Having grown up in a one rink town myself, I’m sure the hockey community is a tightknit one. We look forward to contributing to it in our own way by helping them run their pickup hockey. At the time of this post, every game we’ve helped run in Eugene has been a sellout!

 

Want To Run Pickup Hockey?

12212806926_3029f871ef_zObviously the main thing we do is help others organize their weekly pickup hockey game. I also book my own ice now and again and run pickup. I’ve recently had a few folks ask if I’m going to run regular pickup. My answer is always no….

but you should rent some ice and I’ll help you run it and fill it!

I figured I should make a wider offer along those lines. If you want to run pickup hockey, I’m happy to help you do that. In our popular cities, we have a large set of skaters who have already filled in our “Find More Hockey” application. I can invite all those folks to your skate. If we’re not yet busy in that city then we can actively work on finding more players before you actually book your ice.

Bottom line, we love pickup hockey. If you’re contemplating running some, we’re here to help so don’t hesitate to ask! It may be easier than you think!

Free Hockey Equipment?

We help you organize awesome weekly pickup hockey games. We take over all of your admin work. We invite your skaters in, in rounds, and your subs pay online ahead of time to secure a spot. Our goal is reasonably simple, do everything we can to sell out your weekly game of pickup hockey.

“Their product has saved me countless hours organizing this year’s skate, it has simplified the process of collecting money from subs, and it has ensured a better turnout for us overall at our games this year”, Danny

Selection_076After quietly building up our platform, we’re now ready to work with more organizers. To that end, we’re developing a referral program as we realize it takes time on your part to talk us up.

If you know someone organizing weekly pickup hockey, tell then about us! Email them a link to our How It Works page, tweet about us, and like our Facebook page. Once they’ve organized a few games with us we’ll send you one of the following, your choice, as a thank you.*

  • Twelve rolls of clear shinpad tape.
  • New Tron visor.
  • A 20Skaters practice jersey (your choice of black or white).

We’ll also send the organizer you referred a new puck bag with 10 pucks. As they say in survivor, “worth playing for?”

Selection_077* Currently only within Canada because of shipping restrictions.

 

You Can Always Return to Hockey

Here in Canada, most of us start to run out of youth hockey leagues in our mid-teens. Unless you’re playing high level hockey, the available house leagues start to dry up around the age of 16.

I played some rep level hockey growing up but I stopped playing cold turkey around the age of 16. A lot of it is lack of interest and better things to do with your time. Even if you want to keep playing, the leap between youth hockey and playing men’s league is a large one. By the time I was in my mid twenties I honestly didn’t think I’d ever play hockey again and wasn’t concerned about it.

In my early thirties, a friend I was commuting to work with kept inviting me to play with their hockey team named The Klowns….

“I haven’t played hockey in over 15 years.”

“Do you have equipment?”

“Ahh I think my kid equipment is in my parent’s basement.”

“Can you skate backwards?”

“I mostly played D as a kid.”

“Just come out, you’ll probably be our best player.”

I went into my parent’s basement and dug out my childhood hockey equipment. After not having even laced up skates in about 15 years, I headed to the rink. I played that night and didn’t make a complete fool of myself. I went back again the next week and after a few months I was starting to purchase pieces of gear to replace my kid stuff.

Fast forward to today, I play 3 to 5 times each week and have been for a decade or more. If you’ve had a taste for the sport of hockey and have even the slightest interest in returning, what are you waiting for? You don’t have to find a team or play competitive hockey, just find yourself a great local game of pickup hockey.

PS. If your skates are more than 15 years old, replace them once you know you’re going to play regularly! I really wish someone had told me that.

20Skaters League Champions

20skaters-champsYes we’re all about pickup hockey, however, so far in our history every men’s team we’ve ever sponsored has won their league!

Sure we’ve only ever sponsored one team but stats are stats. The 20Skaters team in Guelph’s NCWHL league won the B division and even took home a cup. Our friend Matt at DesigningSport worked his usual magic on the team photo!

Everyone Hates Skater #21

When it comes to pickup hockey, no one wants to be skater #21. The perfect number, as we all know, is 20 Skaters. Ten per bench, two full lines. Currently all our games are soldout once we reach 20. Done, closed for business, no others allowed in.

All of our organizers have full timers. Their full timers pay for the entire season, can attend any games and we always invite them in first. Currently, if a full timer tries to attend a soldout game, they aren’t able to. That’s bad for our organizers. All of our organizers would prefer that full timers can choose to join a game at anytime.

Our goal, however, is to sellout each week’s game. It’s difficult to do that if we have to allow for full timers to respond last minute or change their mind. This summer we’re making changes to allow a full timer to attend a game at any point. The only time this should result in 21 skaters is two scenarios:

  1. A full timer, who previously declined this game, changed their mind and decided to attend last minute.
  2. A full timer didn’t respond at all until last minute.

There’s always a chance life gets in the way and you end up being skater 21. We’re not looking to be heavy handed here but we also don’t want to open up a hole here that results us consistently overselling games. We want to find the optimum level of shame and peer pressure to gently encourage all full timers to reply in a timely manner. covers

An idea?

We get some lovely pink funfur skate covers made with the #21 on them. We provide a pair or two for all our organizers. In the case that week’s game has a skater #21, we email the organizer to let them know. They offer the pretty covers to skater #21 to wear for that night’s pickup game. Maybe we also decorate their avatar on the game page with some funfur?

Too much? Just enough? Not enough?