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Pointstreak.com Aims to Score Big

By Bob Mackin
Vancouver Courier
January 27, 2002
Original article at http://www.vancourier.com/015102/sports/015102sp1.html

Remember that 1990s concept of the paperless office?

Computers were supposed to save the world from deforestation and garbage dumps were going to shrink.

Noble? Yes. Ambitious? Quite. Futile? Absolutely.

I tried to save trees, but failed. I suspect I'm not alone.

So what about the idea of a paperless officials' bench at every hockey rink in North America?

Heck, why not the world?

That's the dream of hockey-loving West Side entrepreneurs Aaron Bishop and Gregg Sayer. And they're making it a reality.

Bishop, 30, is president and chief executive officer of Pointstreak.com. Sayer, 27, is vice-president and chief marketing officer. Their product is an electronic game sheet system.

After graduating from University of B.C.'s commerce faculty in 1999, they realized the days of the multi-form, carbon-copy official game sheet were numbered: Too many ink and coffee stains, spelling errors and people who just don't understand what "please print" means.

Investment from friends and family got them started two years ago. They attracted the hockey knowledge and contacts of former Buffalo Sabres' general manager Gerry Meehan to their executive team.

Their mission is to make life easier for league administrators, officials, parents and players. They also want to make a lot of money.

"As you get older, your stats become more important and you want to show people how you're doing and how you compare with everybody else in the league," said Bishop, who grew up playing hockey in Thunder Bay, Ont. "Maybe halfway through the year you'd get the standings and statistics and it would always be wrong. It would never be up-to-date. We knew there would be a need for that from the end-user, the actual player would definitely want it."

The company developed a rugged touch-screen terminal, similar to those used by waiters and waitresses to tally food and drink bills in restaurants and bars.

Rosters and game information, such as goals, assists, penalties and suspensions, can be entered or edited as a game happens. The information can be transmitted via a wireless Internet connection to Pointstreak's database and displayed on Pointstreak's web site for anyone in the world to see. In real-time, too.

The 1.8 -kilogram terminal is 21.5 centimetres long, 16.5 cm wide and 7.6 cm thick. It's tough enough to withstand temperatures of -30 Celsius or the shock of an errant puck. If it's splashed from a Thermos of coffee, big deal. It can be hosed down without frying the digital "brain" inside.

Bishop and Sayer's goal is to see Pointstreak installed by every one of the 8,000 ice surfaces at rinks across the U.S. The unit doesn't come cheap. The monthly fee averages $300 US. Think of all the paper it saves and the potential for online advertising revenue that a team or association could
garner. Friends, family and fans will want to see the game sheet for themselves on their computers.

Ice, roller and ball hockey rinks in Georgia and Florida have signed up with more deals pending. Locally, the system is used at all four surfaces at the UBC ice centre, where Bishop plays in the recreational Duffers Hockey League. "We've got state of the art technology for our beer league," he said.

Bishop leaves Tuesday to demonstrate Pointstreak at the Central Hockey League's Feb. 1 all-star game in Corpus Christi, Texas. The minor pro CHL has 16 teams in seven midwest and southern U.S. states and could be Pointstreak's first professional customer if all goes well.

Anyone can log on and follow the game's scoresheet in real-time beginning at 5 p.m. Pacific on Friday. If you can't be there and neither TV nor radio coverage is available, it's the next best thing.

"That's an unintended consequence of what we're doing," Sayer said. "We're a service provider, but we're also a media company. We're dealing with player stats and information, it's content like any other content."

Pointstreak.com is based in a one-floor building, just a slapshot away from the Arbutus rail line. Bishop and Sayer share a large office where laminated maps of North America and the world adorn the walls. They know there's potential for the technology to be adapted for any other sport, but they're moving slowly, one sport at a time.

"It's a niche, by niche, strategy of world domination," Sayer said.



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