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.




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

Y2K Spitfire comes home

Stocky Edwards guest of honour at banquet

Crown Isle acquires Longlands Golf Course

The Crown Isle Resort and Golf Community just got a little bit… Continue reading

Heliports certified at Comox Valley, Campbell River hospitals

Both sites should see heliports up and running by late summer

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Three small wildfires burning west of Courtenay

The blazes are the result of a brief thunderstorm last night

VIDEO: Trades jobs the way of the future on Vancouver Island?

Hundreds of people attend Black Press Career Fair in Nanaimo

Rescued Oregon family simply unprepared for adventure, RCMP say

Agencies now helping the group of four get to their destination in Alaska

Large B.C. tree dies after possible poisoning

Police and District investigate after large chestnut tree’s rapid decline

Canucks release 2018-19 season schedule

Vancouver to face Calgary Flames on Wednesday, Oct. 3, for home opener

VIDEO: Luxury Home and Design Show opens with Italian flare

Event set to run Friday to Sunday at BC Place in Vancouver

Small new charge on BC Hydro bills goes toward new crisis fund

The new fund aims to help customers who find themselves in financial emergencies

UPDATED: Crown appeals B.C. polygamous leader’s acquittal in child bride case

James Oler had been charged with taking his underage daughter to the U.S. to marry her off

A day to remember: Glacier View Secondary holds 2018 graduation ceremony

Glacier View Secondary School held its 2018 graduation ceremony on Thursday, June… Continue reading

Fake cops ‘arrest’ woman, steal $6,000 in latest CRA scam

Vancouver police urge people not take calls from anyone saying they’re from the Canada Revenue Agency

Most Read