By Debra Downey, Senior Editor
Helping Canadian hockey players become better shooters is the goal — pun intended — of Dundas-based company Canadian Sports Challenges.
Lee Fairbanks and business partner Steve Robinson from Greensville have developed The Great Wall of Hockey, which they hope will allow players of all ages to develop their shooting accuracy.
“I think with the Great Wall, players will be able to master their shooting skills like nobody’s business,” said Fairbanks.
The Great Wall of Hockey is based on the idea of interactive training and features five electronic sensors that register accurate shots to the four corners and the five-hole. In addition to static targets, the wall has programmable skill levels — rookie, professional and all-star — to increase the challenge.
“We can leave all five sensors active, or rotate between them, so the shooter has to keep his head up as he skates in to see which target is active, and then shoot, just as he would with a real goalie,” said Fairbanks.
The wall can also be programmed so targets switch at different intervals, so even NHL players will be challenged, said Fairbanks.
The Great Wall of Hockey has been tested twice among young hockey players. A Dundas Minor Hockey Association Bantam team and a squad from Ancaster High School have both had the chance to challenge their skills against The Great Wall.
“Everybody thinks it’s a fantastic new thing in hockey,” said Fairbanks.
Along with becoming a mainstay for hockey development, Fairbanks and Canadian Sports Challenges see The Great Wall of Hockey becoming a permanent part of shinny leagues that have trouble attracting goalies.
“In shinny leagues, in the 30- to 35-year-old age range, no one wants to play goal,” said Fairbanks. “Teams shoot at the posts, or a stick, or a jersey, but it’s not like a real game.”
The Great Wall of Hockey is based on The Great Wall of Soccer, which has provided young soccer enthusiasts the opportunity to hone their skills at Fisher's Mill Park in Dundas for the past three years.
Fairbanks built his first Great Wall of Soccer nearly eight years ago in his backyard to help his young son, Keani, sharpen his soccer skills. Now 15 years old, Keani is well on his way to a pro soccer career.
Based on the interactive training idea, Fairbanks also sees a fabulous opportunity to extend the Great Wall concept to other sports, like baseball and lacrosse.
Arenas and minor hockey associations who would like to know more should call Fairbanks at 905-627-2580 or visit www.greatwallofhockey.com.