Category Archives: Main

What Pickup Hockey is all about: First Goal!

There’s no referees, whistles or announcers, just 20 guys playing the game they love. The skill levels vary, the bounces are crazy, and the goalies get little rest. But we love it.

Pickup hockey is about more than competition. That’s why we love what we do at 20Skaters. Helping organizers put an optimal number of players on the ice makes it more fun for eversteveyone. More importantly, we love when we get to hear the tales of glory from our wonderful and growing group of pickup warriors.

Our friend ‘stevetehpirate’ recently broke down the first goal he scored playing drop-in hockey. Not everyone is Sidney Crosby out there; for most of us scoring is hard work. I’ll let ‘steve’ tell it himself, “Got in front of the net. Actually caught a pass. Somehow, put it up top, glove side… blocked. Snagged the rebound and pushed the puck through the swarm of sticks towards five hole. Easy pad save. Snagged the rebound yet again and tucked between the post and the goalie’s skate before falling backwards on my ass.”

It doesn’t have to look pretty. As they say, “there’s no pictures on the score board.” Perseverance is everything in hockey.

We were thrilled that he was sporting his brand new 20Skaters jersey. When we get him the dark version, he might just turn into Alex Ovechkin.

This story reminds us that there’s always that guy out there with you, grinding hard, trying to bury his first, even though you already have 5 tonight. Put the puck on that guy’s stick, and give him the opportunity. It might not work out, because as Steve put it “Give me a soccer net and I’ll still have a tough time.” Yet, when guys like him are scoring, everyone is having a good time.

Because after all, that’s what pickup hockey is all about. As he mentions “conked my head on the ice, which might have hurt if I wasn’t so damn happy.” We were happy for you too!

Adult Hockey Practice?

IMG_20150225_164550_edit1-864x879Most adult (beer league) hockey players I know have taken significant time off from hockey at some point. For me, I stopped playing the game entirely for about 15 years. I didn’t even go public skating during those years.

Whether you’ve taken a long stretch off, or you’re new to the game, you know you need practice and possibly some coaching. Playing drop-in, and games, is obviously the point but being able to practice, having lot’s of time with the puck, work on skills is required to really improve your game

If you’re in the Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge area then checkout Eric Calder’s programs. Specifically, Eric runs an adult power skills and power skating programs once each week. It’s 70 minutes which means the beer will taste great after!

Pickup Hockey…without the ice!

backyard_messIt’s that sad time of year. The snow has melted, the backyard rinks are an ugly mess and the city has pulled most of the ice out of the rinks.

While there is lot’s of summer pickup ice hockey games already underway, we’re also excited to see John from starting up a weekly inline pickup hockey game.

Haven’t heard of inline hockey? Well melt the snow remaining in your ears my cave dwelling friend, this is hockey…without the ice! The beauty of playing with John is that you can also rent inline equipment from him to try the sport out!

John’s weekly pickup hockey game is Thursday nights in Waterloo at 10pm. From his 20Skaters page, you can click Attend to play this week, click Register if you want to know about a future game.

Kitchener Rangers Playoff Game

Kitchener_RangersWe have a suite tonight at the OHL playoff game between the Kitchener Rangers and the London Knights. We only have 8 tickets and we’d like to offer them up to 20Skaters players. The cost of the suite is covered so you only have to pony up for the ticket cost.

If you’re an active organizer with us, it’s free as we’re covering the ticket cost as a thanks for being an early organizer with us!

Grab a spot on the game page if you can join us?

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!