Walter Gretzky, father to the Great One, taught his son not to go where the puck is, but where the puck is going.
Hockey Community, Vancouver’s homegrown platform for amateur hockey players online, got that memo. Their app for iOS has just turned one, and a new updated version has just arrived on the App Store.
Alex Toul, one of Hockey Community’s founders, was more than happy to talk about the service. Hockey has always been his passion; it brought him to Vancouver from Lille. His accent is still strong, despite many years in Canada.
“Let’s say you are a hockey player, but you haven’t played in a while, so you don’t have that group to play with, and you just want to play one game from time to time - but this app is showing you all the people who love the game all around the world, and that can be contagious," he says. "Technology can help you fall in love again with the sport, because you witness other people loving the sport, and that’s very powerful.”
Accessibility has always been the top priority of the Hockey Community team. The app has always been free to download; the app makes its money through the coordination of rink time sales. A new booking interface is expected to be released very shortly. 4,000 events have been coordinated by the service, and over 36,000 players have been brought to over 10,000 rinks around the world.
Their success is attracting considerable outside attention. They’ve formed a partnership with Oxylane, the world’s biggest sport retailer, and they plan to be the social network that digitally enhanced athletic gear connects to. With a new digital VIP charge card, they really are putting their money where their mouth is in terms of making hockey accessible to the masses. While their service is becoming more and more popular with amateur hockey players around the world, Alex Toul emphasizes Hockey Community’s commitment to depth rather than breadth where fans are concerned.
“The stories that I love are people who cannot stop playing hockey," he told Techvibes. "Ten years ago, maybe the people are not so nice, you don’t have enough social contacts, and now you play, and get another invitation. And you’re winning badges, and getting positive feedback. I think it’s safe to say that we’re growing hockey in Canada."
"You have people who have just moved here, you have people who are losing weight, saying that their wives love them more now. We are so proud of changing people’s health," he added. "I got a testimonial saying that thanks to hockey, [one man] lost 40 pounds in six months, he fixed a heart condition, and this month, he only has three nights he is not playing hockey. These are real stories.”
The great thing about real stories is that they do not end. All things considered, it’s looking like Hockey Community years has many years of success ahead of them. They’re reaching for their goals - and scoring big.