Written by: Anthony Porcari
HockeyStickMan. On the way home from a day trip to Toronto, I stopped in at the Walsh’s in Shannonville when they had the HockeyStickMan store in their basement. My dad and I met Pete Walsh who was currently in the process of repairing some broken sticks. My dad and I both read about the SRS blade and shaft repair process once we found out about HockeyStickMan, so we were both interested in learning more. While my dad and Pete talked, I started to look around at all the sticks. It was heaven. Sticks surrounded the entire basement and were organized by brand depending and whether they were pro stock, used, refurbished, or clearance.
If you read “My Stick Journey Part 1” then you would know that I was hooked on the Bauer Supreme line and the P92 curve.
I was looking for a refurbished Bauer Supreme TotalOne NXG, but they didn’t have anything in stock that met all of the specs I wanted. As I continued to look through the sticks, I came across the Bauer Vapor line. Since I had experience using the Bauer Vapor APX, my eyes lit up when I found a couple of APX 2’s that had the P92 curve. At first, I thought they were refurbished, but Pete showed me that they were game-used and placed with the refurbished sticks. They were priced at $75/stick and I could not pass that up knowing they went $200+ brand new. Of course, there was no warranty and there was the associated risk that because they were game-used, they might break sooner. But after inspecting the condition of the sticks, I was willing to take that risk. This was my first experience with HockeyStickMan in 2015 and since then I haven’t bought a stick anywhere else.
In my Major Midget year, I played for the U16 Ottawa Sharpshooters. We were a travelling team that played in the Prep School Hockey Federation (PSHF). During our playoffs in Toronto, I got scouted by Hill Academy Prep School. I used my APX 2’s to lead my team in scoring that year. My first APX 2 broke mid-way through the season from a slash, so I had to use my non-grip APX 2 for the rest of the season. I preferred grip but made it work by coating it in stick wax.
Second visit. It was on my way home from going on the ice with Hill Academy that I stopped in at HockeyStickMan in Shannonville again. This time, I was looking to see what they had in stock and wanted to ask Pete a few questions. I told him that I broke one of the game-used sticks I bought previously and that I knew a lot about the SRS system, but could not get my hands on any of the materials because I was not a retailer and SRS wouldn’t sell to me otherwise. After talking to Pete for a while about it, he knew I was eager to repair my stick. By the time I left, he supplied me with all of the tools I needed to fix my stick. The next day, I followed the shaft repair process. I cut the broken parts of the stick off, made sure it lined up, used the drill bit to carve out the inside of the shaft, measured out the mid-way point of the sleeve, inserted the styrofoam, inserted the fibreglass sleeve, attached the top part of the stick to the lower, glued the edges, taped over the seam to keep it together, clamped it, then mixed and poured the epoxy/resin from the top of the stick. After I completed all of these steps I let it sit for three days to ensure it cured properly. After the three days, I flexed it both ways and got all of the crackles out of it and then it was good to use. To this day, I have not broken my repaired APX 2 or my game-used non-grip APX 2.
Hockey Career. I refused my offer to play for Hill Academy because I wanted to finish high school in my hometown with my friends and prepare for university. That summer, I continued to play for the Ottawa Sharpshooters on their U18 team, but while playing in the Boston Chowder Cup in July 2016, I got my fourth concussion. I went to training camp in August and noticed that my symptoms were not fully gone. A couple of weeks later, I went back to play, but only 4 games into the season my symptoms returned and I decided to leave the team.
I turned my focus to preparing for university and got a scholarship to attend Brock University for Sport Management. I got into contact with the Varsity Ball Hockey Coach asking about their program. The doctors recommended to me to not play contact hockey anymore, but I wanted to use the hockey skills I developed to play ball hockey. The summer before leaving for Brock University, I played ball hockey for the first time in a recreational league in Ottawa with my brother and his friends. It was hard to get used to the game because if you stopped moving then you stopped moving. You could not glide around to catch your breath and decide to turn on the jets again like in ice hockey. It took me a while to get used to how much cardio was involved in ball hockey, but from playing soccer and running long-distance track in high school, it did not take me too long. The hardest part was learning the different rules. For example, the floating blueline. Once you gained the offensive zone by crossing the blue line, the offensive zone opened up to the red line. After 13 years of ice hockey, this rule made no sense to me, but the more I played, the more I got used to it.
First-year. I tried out for the Brock Badgers Ball Hockey Team in my first year and made the team. The Varsity team got split into two, with the more experienced players competing in the local Niagara B league and the newer players developing in the Niagara C league. When travelling to Varsity games, these rosters would combine to compete against other universities. The local Niagara league, run by ballhockey.com, had a Fall and Winter season that we competed in, while the Varsity team competed in the Ontario University Ball Hockey League (OUBHL). We won the Fall C League and the OUBHL championship that season and I was named the most improved player on the C team.
"Anthony played his best games in the finals and has to be the most improved player from start to finish." said Brock Ball Hockey Coach, Dr. Rene Vandenboom.
I started playing ball hockey with some of the older sticks I had in my garage that I did not use for ice hockey anymore. I remember using a CCM RBZ for most of first year but had trouble controlling the ball because I was not used to playing with the curve or a ball. I kept trying out different sticks and curves to find what worked best for ball hockey but I had to adapt how I took my shots because of the different surfaces we played on and how the ball travelled in the air. Most of my slap shots would miss the net by a mile and I noticed that I would fand on easy shots close to the net because my stick would get caught on the rubberized surface. I learned quickly to not tape my stick as I did in ice hockey. Instead, I had one strip of tape that went horizontally on the front and one of the back of my blade. This way, my stick did not get caught on the surface and gave me more control of the ball as it did not slide off my stick as easily.
Second-year. In my second year, I played on the C team and Varsity team again. I kept testing out sticks at the beginning of the season and then decided to use my refurbished APX 2. This changed my performance dramatically as I was comfortable with the curve, it had the right amount of flex and was way more durable than my other sticks. As the stick-built up my confidence and I played more games, I became a better player and contributed more to my teams. In the C league semi-finals, I scored key goals in both elimination games to help defeat our rivals, the Goats. Unfortunately, I rolled my ankle during the final elimination game in that series and caused me to miss the OUBHL playoffs. Brock’s Varsity team was loaded with talent and easily defeated the Laurier Golden Hawks to win another championship title.
Opinion. Ball hockey has a lot more stick contact than ice hockey because players get tired or angry and use it more often to slash. Therefore, you want a more durable stick, that you are okay with breaking. I recommend refurbished sticks for ball hockey because they are high quality, but relatively cheap and if they break, they do not break your bank account. A lot of my teammates used one-piece top-of-the-line sticks and broke multiple a year. They had to spend a lot of money to replace them, whereas I never broke any of my refurbished sticks. From personal experience, refurbished sticks offer more value to me. That is why I continued to buy refurbished sticks from HockeyStickMan throughout my ball hockey career. In my second year, I bought three refurbished Bauer Supreme TotalOne 1S and still have all of them.
Refurbished sticks. A refurbished stick that is repaired in the shaft is supposed to be 4x stronger than it was originally. Most people do not break the stick again in the repaired area. Players sacrifice a little bit of weight for more durability, but if you grew up playing with two-piece sticks or wooden sticks then this would be a luxury to you. Once you play with refurbished sticks a couple of times, you do not even notice the weight of it, but refurbished sticks are not for everyone. Some people like to replace multiple $300 sticks a year. I have never paid over $150 for a stick and those sticks were the ones that broke on me the fastest.
Third-year. After returning from an exchange at the University of Florida, I got promoted to the B league team and played regularly in the top nine forwards on the Varsity team. It took me a little time to get back into the swing of it, but I played four nights a week between the C league and B league to speed up the process before deciding to play B full-time. We won the Winter B league championship, which was a huge accomplishment for our team because it is the top league in the Niagara area. However, due to covid-19 our Varsity championships got cancelled and so did my fourth year.
Conclusion. I thought transitioning from ice hockey to ball hockey would be easy. I was wrong. I had to learn a new sport. From new rules to learning how to shoot properly, it was very technical and it took me a lot of practice to become a confident player. Through this experience, I gained a lot of respect for my teammates who made it look easy. Most of them played ball hockey at the highest level since they were young and taught me a lot about the game.
HockeyStickMan was a big part of my stick journey. From allowing me to get high-quality sticks for affordable prices when I played ice hockey to giving me the tools I needed to refurbish my stick. Since my first experience with HockeyStickMan, I have been a returning customer. Without their support, I would not have led my U16 team in scoring or scored key goals in ball hockey to support my team.
Ultimately, my stick journey and passion for this company landed me an internship with them to help me graduate from my Sport Management program at Brock University. Recently, I received a Pro Blackout Extra Lite and wish this product was available when I played ice hockey because I would have strictly used it. But now, I can use it and show my friends and family about it.