As the puck reaches his stick, Max Larocque cradles it with the blade and fires it toward the net. Seconds later, the next puck arrives and he unleashes another shot, hitting the target with a heavy thump.
Larocque and three other eight and nine-year-old players -- Gunnar Lewicki, Lucas Boreham and Nathan Dyke -- were among those to accept and complete a 10,000-shot challenge issued by Polair Power Shot this summer. The boys earned themselves a pizza party and special hats to commemorate the milestone.
The Acton business, which opened with a golf simulator, added a RapidShot training tool for hockey players last June. Players scan in with a card and then have various aspects of their shot measured, allowing them to track their improvement on their shot speed, accuracy and their reaction time getting the shot away. Players are also assigned a score based on three elements.
Over the course of the summer, Larocque saw the strength of his shot improve from a range of 25-27 mph to 28-34 mph, with his hardest shot being 38.6 mph.
“It will help getting shots on net, rather than just flipping it,” he said.
“We thought (the challenge) was a good way to promote hockey players being active through the summer and help them improve their game through consistency,” said Chantal Dyke, who owns Polair Power Shot with her husband Dwaine.
Players can either shoot off platforms or wear their skates on the synthetic ice surface at the Wallace Street facility. Most players can shoot 250-400 pucks in a half hour session, with a conveyor belt under the net keeping a constant stream of pucks coming.
Dwaine said the idea for adding the RapidShot system came from watching games at tournaments.
“Nobody really knows how to shoot. It seemed like there was one good shooter on every team,” he said. “I started researching what the Americans do and these are everywhere in the States as a development tool.”
All four players who completed the challenge saw at least a 40 per cent increase in their shot speed, 50 per cent increase in the accuracy of their shot and at least a 15 per cent improvement in their reaction time.
The tracking of stats also helped keep the players motivated. All four talked about celebrating milestones along the way, whether it was their hardest shot, a high score or their shot total.
“I think when you set goals and achieve them, that’s going to help you be successful in whatever you do,” Dwaine said.
Polair Power Shot also offers skate sharpening for both hockey and figure skates as well as accessories, including laces and tape.
For further details, visit polairpowershot.ca.