Have you heard about Shnarped? Shnarped is an app that every hockey fan (with either an iPhone or an Android) absolutely has to have on their radar. It is a one-stop shop for everything that any hockey fan (or hockey player, for that matter) could want to know about their favorite players. In one stop, you can see a player’s statistics from recent games, statistics from past seasons, recent news stories, and tweets (if applicable). The app also allows fans to send a virtual fist bump, called a pound, to their favorite players along with a message. Players can then send a “pound” back to their fans as well.
Shnarped was founded by two former Princeton hockey players, Dustin Sproat and Kyle Hagel. Sproat retired from his professional career to pursue a Master’s degree while Hagel is still playing in the AHL. There are over 300 professional hockey players that are active on the site including Jonathan Toews, Matt Moulson, Andrew Shaw, and Brendan Gallagher. Since Shnarped was founded by hockey players, they know what other hockey players want to see. Sproat and Hagel saw a need for fans, especially younger ones, to interact with their favorite players.
“Twitter can quickly turn into a hostile environment for athletes and fans,” says Dustin Sproat, CEO and co-founder of Shnarped Hockey. “We wanted to create a youth-friendly mobile app that allows young hockey fans to interact with their hockey heroes in a safe social community.”
The pair founded a charity called Hockey Players 4 Kids and this app sprung from that. They launched it into the iPhone app store in October of 2012. When February of 2013 came around, Shnarped was a great app, but they did not have as much of a following as they would have liked. Someone suggested to Sproat that he audition for the popular show Dragon’s Den on CBC in Canada.
At the time, Sproat was playing for the Bentley Generals Sr. AAA team in Alberta. He missed playing competitive hockey and had gotten back into the sport. But, in February of 2013, the last audition for Dragon’s Den was March 2nd in Vancouver. The only problem was that Sproat’s team had playoff games scheduled in Alberta on March 1st and 2nd.
Fate seemed to be headed in Sproat’s favor as his team closed out the playoff series after the first game, allowing him to move his flight to Vancouver to make the audition. But, as any hockey player knows, winning a playoff series brings a celebration along with it. That celebration almost kept Sproat from making his flight. However, the story leading to him eventually making his flight makes everything all the more exciting.
Dustin Sproat knew he had to make that 9am flight on Saturday, March 2nd. So when he and his teammates went out to celebrate their playoff victory, he designated himself as the driver. The night started around midnight and the final stop had them rolling through to Brian Sutter’s barn in the early hours of the morning. Yes, the same Brian Sutter that’s an NHL legend and yes, it was actually a barn on a farm. It’s true what they say about Alberta in early March. It’s calving season and it is ridiculously cold. As the boys on the team continued their celebrating, Sutter went out every hour to check on his pregnant cows to make sure they were not in distress.
As it turned out, Sutter found one that was in distress. This meant that the boys got to experience an actual birth firsthand, an experience that I’m sure none of them will forget soon since it was their own captain that helped out. This also meant that it was 5am and they were nowhere near leaving. The team had become very invested in the process and did not want to leave before the calf took her first steps. Time was running short and Sproat had a two hour drive to the Calgary airport ahead of him. Finally, at 6am, the calf took her first steps and the boys were on their way. Sproat managed to get on his flight just before the gate closed.
An overly tired Dustin Sproat arrived in Vancouver only to find another obstacle. The same person that had recommended Sproat try out for Dragon’s Den also promised to organize the pitch. But, that person got stuck out of town and would not be able to make it. Sproat and his partner were 30 minutes away from the end of the auditions and had only 15 minutes while waiting in line to come up with something. Leaving the audition, Sproat was not feeling confident. He had not been able to answer some of the questions and regretted not taking the chance more seriously.
Something must have gone right, though, because a few weeks later, they got a call. After answering a few more questions, they got the invite to Toronto. Kyle Hagel and Dustin Sproat flew to Toronto on April 24, 2013. They made the pitch to CBC’s Dragon’s Den and that’s where our story ends…for now at least! The episode airs on CBC on Wednesday, October 30th. Everyone will get to see how well the pair did, but we suspect it went really well.
Make sure you download the app if you have an iPhone or Android. Shnarped was only just released for Android users so now they can see what all of us with iPhones have been enjoying all this time. Shnarped continues to grow in users as even the professional hockey players themselves use it to keep track of friends playing in different cities. It’s a must have app for all hockey fans.