In general, hockey is by far the most expensive to play of the four major sports in the United States (football, basketball, baseball and hockey). Ice time is not cheap, nor is all of the equipment parents must buy for their children. New to the market, Bardownski Hockey helps solve that problem — at least in one department.
Jason Silver and Josh Miller founded the company last year and have been in the production phase of their company for less than a year. Miller, a Queens, N.Y., native, was a punter for 13 years in the NFL, winning the 2005 Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. Silver is a member of the Skidmore College Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the 1996–97 men’s hockey team and is a former top NFL agent.
They noticed a major problem with high-quality hockey sticks on the market today — they are all very expensive. Using their connections in the industry, however, the two have been able to cut out the middle man, knock down those costs and offer the same high-end sticks for about half the cost of their competitors.
Bardownski hockey makes custom sticks, which means they also don’t have to pay big money for stick contracts with professional players. Instead, they can create sticks designed for certain teams. These can have a player’s name on them, team logos and team colors and be built to the specifications one chooses.
“If you ask a little kid, ‘What do you care about more: the fact that it says Ovechkin or Crosby on your stick, or would you rather have your team name and logo?” co-founder Miller said. “It turns out, they’d rather have their team’s names, numbers and colors on the stick. It’s real simple.”
“You’re paying for — when it comes to other sticks — the swoosh of Nike and the branding,” Miller added. “Kids like to have things customized. We were able to get quality sticks and have been able to check off all of the boxes. As a hockey parent myself, I’ve spent enough money on sticks. Anytime you can save a couple of dollars here and there, it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Compared to other stick companies, Bardownski Hockey goes after different clientele. Sure, the company website lists some high-level youth teams who use their products, but Bardownski branches out into the prep market, going after schools who might not have massive budgets. Bardownski also offers a 60-day warranty compared to the standard 30-day warranty offered by most companies.
“By nature, hockey is a cost-prohibitive sport,” Silver said. “But what do you absolutely need to play hockey? That’s a stick. Increasingly, that’s a high-level stick. Currently, we’re in the process of developing some other equipment, but this is our focus for now. The point is to make hockey more accessible.”
The co-founders of the company also said they are not even really challenging the bigger company’s model. They just want to offer an alternative to them, allowing the consumer to save some money and have their own stick that makes them feel special.
For more on Bardownski sticks, check out bardownskihockey.com.
GELSTX boosts hockey shot training
The company’s founders also are excited for a separate new product venture, GELSTX, which they dub “the new standard in hockey training.”
The product is a hockey training stick infused with patented StickGel, which is a gel polymer. The purpose is to add an evenly distributed amount of weight to the stick without sacrificing its integrity or capabilities.
Silver said the product is a “pure training aid,” helping players work on hand speed, shot velocity and wrist strength. Because it is a versatile tool that builds strength, it also can be used to help players who are recovering from injuries.
Although the company is based in Pennsylvania, GELSTX has a couple of major New England connections. David Quinn, coach of the Boston University men’s team before accepting the head job with the New York Rangers, and Bentley men’s coach Ryan Soderquist have welcomed GELSTX into those college teams’ training programs.
One of the firm’s key backers is Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team.
“As a training stick, it is off the charts,” Eruzione said. “I was blown away by it. It’s not a gimmick — this product makes a ton of sense. We took it to BU, and it took David Quinn five minutes to say he wanted to order one for all of his players.”
Eruzione said GELSTX would have been an ideal tool to have when he was shooting pucks in his Winthrop, Mass., backyard as a youngster.
“It’s a great training stick, a great development stick for kids,” Eruzione said. “Instead of shooting pucks in the backyard with a stick weighted with doughnuts at the bottom, which is kind of archaic, they can shoot with this stick, which is weighted from top to bottom, and learn to shoot correctly.”
Two-time Olympic silver medalist Brianne McLaughlin, who is heavily involved in the training space surrounding the women’s game, also has been a big proponent of the product, which Eruzione said is ideal for women seeking to strengthen their shot and fine-tune shooting accuracy.
GELSTX products are available for youth, junior, intermediate and senior levels. More information about this product can be found at GELSTX.com.