BASE-ically, it’s all about using the right hockey stick


MICHEL PETIT GIVES Ethan Fox some tips on shooting during BASE Hockey visit to the West Coast Elite Hockey Academy.

MICHEL PETIT GIVES Ethan Fox some tips on shooting during BASE Hockey visit to the West Coast Elite Hockey Academy.




During a stellar 19-year NHL career, Cliff Ronning used his stick to score 869 regular season and 89 playoff points. Now he’s designing sticks to help a new generation of players take their game to the next level.

A popular member of the Vancouver Canucks from 1990-96, the Burnaby-born Ronning retired from the NHL in 2006. He then turned his hockey expertise toward fitting NHL players, earning the nickname “The Stick Doctor.” In 2009 he and Ron Kunisaki (who launched Innovative Hockey, the first composite hockey stick company in North America) formed BASE Hockey Labs – a shooting analysis and custom stick fitting business that officially opened in September 2010.

Headquartered in Burnaby, BASE Hockey also offers mobile clinics, and last week Ronning was in Courtenay at West Coast Elite Hockey Academy (WCEHA) to help local players improve their game.

Over the course of one hour, a player has his shot captured by a hi-def camera that operates at 2,000 frames per second. Proprietary software measures stick performance and characteristics.

Working with a shooting coach, the player is immediately able to analyze their shot via instant replay, and recommendations are made as to which stick (with regards to weight, flex, balance point and lie) best suits them. BASE calls it “customization driven by science.”

On Sunday, Michel Petit (Canuck first-round draft pick in 1982 and 15-year NHL veteran) was providing the coaching on the synthetic ice surface at the WCEHA facility on Hudson Road. Other former NHLers do the instructing at other locations, and Ronning notes participants benefit greatly from one-on-one time with the retired pros.

“They have a lot of knowledge and the beauty of it is they enjoy giving back to the game. They field a lot of questions. It’s hockey player talking to hockey player, so it’s an easy process.”

Dave Meiers, who co-owns WCEHA along with Chris Olson, agrees with Ronning. “My son Wyatt, who’s 15, spent time with Cliff in (Burnaby). They had Al Iafrate there. To spend an hour with those two guys, listening, talking … not just about shooting but what it takes to get to the next level and what sacrifices you have to make. For me, I couldn’t even put a price tag on that, to be honest. It was so valuable.”

Meiers heard about BASE through a friend and while he was at the Burnaby facility with his son in February he and Ronning discussed the possibility of BASE coming to the Courtenay training facility. About 20 players had their shots analyzed during the three-and-a-half days BASE was at WCEHA, and Meiers said BASE plans to return to Courtenay this winter.

Ronning says he and Iafrate were the first two ex-NHLers to become pro reps and fit NHL players. Using Iafrate’s shooting instructions in their process is a bonus for BASE participants: the 18-year NHL veteran is famous for his rocket slap shot that set the NHL Skills Competition record, which stood for 16 years, at 105.2 mph (169.3 km/h).

BASE manufacturers their sticks and sells them directly to the customer. “There is no middle man,” says Ronning, which keeps the price lower than composite sticks sold in stores. “Our breakage is way below any other stick,” he added. Many current NHLers use BASE sticks, including Mike Modano and Tomas Kaberle.

BASE customizes sticks for all levels of player. Ronning notes that while pros are looking for a stick that is the same every time they use it, young players will need to change their stick as they grow and develop. Even beer league players can benefit from using a BASE stick, Ronning said.

BASE currently operates four mobile units and is looking to established permanent facilities in other major North American cities. Ronning notes that BASE operates on a year-round basis and is visiting numerous cities this year. “We’re getting booked up everywhere,” he said of his burgeoning business.

West Coast Elite Hockey Academy, which Meiers and Olson have been running for four years in the Valley, is also open year-round except for a few weeks during the summer. More information on their programs, which include on-ice training, is available at 250-338-5919 or

More info on BASE Hockey is available at They can be reached at 1-888-728-6977 or





Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Comox town hall. Black Press file photo
Comox takes step closer to finalizing Northeast Comox Storm Water Management Plan

“(This has been a) tremendous work in progress for many years”

Town of Comox council (from left) Alex Bissinger, Ken Grant, Nicole Minions, Mayor Russ Arnott, Stephanie McGowan, Maureen Swift and Pat McKenna. Photo by Kim Stallknecht
Byelection coming to the Town of Comox

The latest municipal election was held in October 2018

The Kus-kus-sum site had been a sawmill on the Courtenay River. File photo
Restoration of Kus-kus-sum area in Courtenay to begin June 21

Restoration at the Kus-kus-sum site will begin June 21. This will be… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

Most Read