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Best Shift Hockey puts wheels in motion

07/19/2022, 10:00am CDT
By Shafin Khan

Best Shift Hockey in Eagan has a focus on roller hockey, which is growing in the Midwest, but allows training for ice hockey players as well.

John Schiavo is a former professional hockey player and is a co-founder of Best Shift Hockey in Eagan, MN.

A new hockey training facility has found a home in Eagan, Minn. and is looking to make a positive impact within the hockey community with its services. Best Shift Hockey has established itself as a training facility where they welcome athletes of all ages and host various programs to help hockey players of any age hone their skills with an emphasis on using wheels for training during the summer months and throughout the hockey season.

Inline or “roller” hockey is popular on both the east and west coasts, and is used as a prime training technique to build better ice hockey players. It is growing in popularity in the Midwest and Minnesota.

The business began through the collaboration of GoodWood Hockey owner, Kelly O’Donnell, and professional inline hockey player, John Schiavo, creating the new brand: Best Shift Hockey.

“Bottom line – [we want to] grow the game. Expand access to training on wheels and put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces,” Schiavo said. “Best Shift Hockey isn’t just for roller hockey, it’s a place to become a more skilled hockey player.There are three shooting lanes that can be rented individually for hour-long training. The entire rink can be rented by the hour for private, small group or team training by your coach or association. There is a gym, dozens of training tools, and games available for use with any shooting lane or rink rental.”

While ice hockey is predominant, the Minnesota Roller Hockey Association [Joe Dustin, White Bear Lake], and John Schiavo have been working diligently to shift the habits of hockey training in the region to inline skating, as well as grow the base of youth and adults playing competitive inline hockey in addition to, or, when appropriate, in place of ice hockey. With a growing market and grassroots movement, it has led to a demand for high quality training and organization for the game of roller hockey in this marketplace. The facility houses 140-square meters of indoor skating tile (this area is able to be utilized as a full skating area, or sectioned off for three individual shooting lanes); three NHL-sized nets will also give way to three shooting tarps in the shooting lanes for customization of training; One end of the rink area will end in an additional shooting tarp. The other end is a floor to ceiling, net-protected, 4.5-meter high industrial garage door with an NHL sized net for shooting. There is also  65-square meters of fitness equipment and training with Olympic weights, machines, and a fitness cycle, amongst other training aids. There is also 73-square meters of retail/pro shop space.

O’Donnell and Schiavo want to promote their new facility as a place where organizations can work on team building activities, have dryland practice and as a place that is inclusive of everyone. They host camps and clinics and are actively working to bring teams of all age groups to larger national tournaments during the summer months. There is still time to register for their July & August summer skills camps available for mite through bantam levels.

Schiavo, a still active ECHL athlete, hails from the east coast and hopes to bring his expertise in roller hockey and to training to Minnesota where there are more hockey players per capita than anywhere in the nation. 

 “The talent pool in Minnesota is enormous for hockey,” said O’Donnell.  “Roller hockey is an environment for not only the top tier players to open up their training & improve their stick handling and skating skills, but also allows for anyone to come play hockey. Whether you’re at the Learn to Skate level, have never held a stick, want to play recreationally, or play on multiple travel teams...roller hockey & training on wheels can be for you.”

The pair has organized a weekly Wednesday Hockey Fun Night and families can register for it on online at O’Donnell has also helped put together a pre-school aged open playtime on Monday and Wednesday mornings in order to help expose youngsters to the game of hockey and create a fun environment for them.

“All activities can be attended on wheels or sneakers, unless noted otherwise,” O’Donnell said. “If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we have Marsblade 01 training skates for use as well.”

One of the biggest differences between ice and roller hockey is that roller is played four-on-four along with no icing or offsides, making it an extremely fast-paced game. These nuances between the two versions of games is something Schiavo hopes he can teach to kids at an early age.

“Shoulder pads aren’t really worn and we don’t wear hockey pants,” Schiavo said. “We wear specific roller hockey pants. Obviously, the surface is a huge difference as well. Tournaments are played on a special tile similar to Sport Court but roller hockey can be played on smooth concrete or other court surfaces as well.”

Another goal O’Donnell and Schiavo are striving towards is to help enhance the popularity of the roller hockey community in Minnesota. They have seen growth of the sport in other midwestern states and want to continue pushing that growth across the region as well.

“We aim to be a huge catalyst for the game. Roller is already huge in the St. Louis area. Wisconsin and Iowa have also started growing the sport in the last decade as well,” Schiavo said. “It really only makes sense to reintroduce inline to the State of Hockey. I can tell you that I have heard an enormous amount of excitement from the national roller hockey community for Minnesota to become a powerhouse in roller hockey.”

GoodWood Hockey [now Best Shift Hockey & Training] began as a lifestyle apparel brand in Minnesota and still continues to sell an apparel line at Training hours and camps can be found at The facility is located in Eagan, Minnesota at 1959 Shawnee Rd Ste 100.

Tag(s): State Of Hockey