Total Hockey I fnally got a chance to visit Kevin (Shea) at Total Hockey in Bowmanville today. It's not the biggest place, but the displays/exhibits are very attractively designed. There's a distinctly different feel to the place, compared to the Hockey Hall of Fame: it's more accessible.
The HHOF feels more like a museum, with the predominance of glass display cases, but Total Hockey feels more...homey. I mean, there are sticks and skates and things that aren't in cases, and I loved the memorabilia/collectible area living room design!
Also, I just liked the use of different materials (fabrics, tapestries, etc.) and styles. I thought the giant Richard and Bower cut-outs--like table hockey figures--were a unique concept. Don't know why exactly, but I particularly admired the look of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast section (if you put on the headphones, you can actually hear old broadcasts). It's very simple--a curtain, stools, and hanging headsets--but attractive.
Now, it's been a while since I went through the interactive/game section of the Hall, but I think Total Hockey's got a more varied collection of activities. Don't get me wrong, the Hall's Shoot Out and Shut Out games are really cool, but I like how the Total Hockey games allow you to test specific skills.
The goaltending activity, for example, tests your ability to both observe and react. After you press the blue button (top right corner), one of the yellow buttons will light up. You have to hit the button for another one to light up, and so the process repeats for 30 seconds. Of course, this simulates stopping pucks coming from all different directions. It's pretty challenging. Not only do you have to be able to quickly identify which button is lit, you also have to be able to respond quickly to hit it. Not to mention there's a degree of flexibility required to go from top to bottom, left to right.
There's also an activity that tests your puckhandling skills. Basically the game has a bunch of circles on the floor and you need to move the puck over the different circles which light successively in a random order. The goal is to finish all the circles and to return the puck to the centre in the shortest period of time. I was really terrible at that! When Kevin demonstrated, it took him 24 seconds to complete, but it took me 50 seconds!! ^^;;
Of course they also had a slap shot game to clock the speed of a shot. I thought I was bad at the puck handling, but I was even worse at the slap shot! It was pretty embarrassing. Even with Kevin there to give me tips, I couldn't get the puck up, much less moving towards the net with any speed! The fastest I managed (after dozens of tries) was 26 mph. @_@ Half of the time I couldn't even get the puck up to the net! Oh well. Kevin said it just means I need to practice more--maybe I should go to Total Hockey more often. =P
Apart from those three games, they also had some things to test your hand and leg strength. The hand strength one was this thing that you just had to squeeze to see your grip strength. For leg strength, you just had to stand on a mat and jump as high as possible for the machine to measure the height of your jump. I thought these two were really good ideas because even self-conscious kids/people who don't have any experience hockey sticks can do these activities without feeling too exposed/awkward.
Apart from the games, I had a lot of fun taking pictures of myself in the little photo set available. There was even a handy-dandy ledge that made it easy for me to set my camera up with the timer to take the pictures by myself!
So, all in all I enjoyed my visit to Total Hockey! It's a great little gem of a place for hockey fans. I just wish more people knew about it! I mean, the Hockey Hall of Fame is great and I love it, but Total Hockey's got its own unique appeal/feel.