A Hockey Superstore
At Total Hockey, yards of sticks and a vocabulary lesson
by Sally Mitani
Total Hockey's location was chosen for its proximity to the Ann Arbor Ice Cube, and already we're into specialized skating vocabulary: "No, the Cube doesn't have three rinks--it's one rink, with three sheets," corrects Total Hockey's manager, Harrison Niemann, who played hockey in college (University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point) and plays for fun now.
Total Hockey is 10,000 square feet of skates, sticks, pads, and jerseys, plus ten big-screen TVs perpetually tuned to hockey. There are so many hockey sticks that they look like a kind of abstract sculpture, pressed tightly together in blocks of color, stretching for yards. "There are different curves, different flexes, different models," Nieman explains. "We have a good selection of senior sticks."
Senior sticks? Special sticks for old folks? Niemann bursts out laughing, because it's the opposite. Senior sticks are extra-stiff ones for very good, very powerful hockey players--like Niemann himself. A top-of-the-line senior stick of composite graphite goes for around $260. And what's at the bottom of the line? "Well," he says doubtfully, "you can buy a wooden stick for about twenty-five bucks. They're heavy." No one buys them, he says--"you can't feel the puck as well."
If 10,000 feet devoted to hockey sounds insanely specialized, Niemann says the company has a sister chain called Total Lacrosse--"though they're mainly on the East Coast."
Total Hockey, 2771 Oak Valley Dr., 827-7951. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. totalhockey.com
[Originally published in April, 2014.]