A Hockey Superstore
At Total Hockey, yards of sticks and a vocabulary lesson
by Sally Mitani
From the April, 2014 issue
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.]