RinkWise podcast: Andrew Alberts about virtual reality and hockey

Andrew Alberts

Andrew Alberts played for the Bruins and three other teams in his NHL career.

Andrew Alberts has been in the hockey world almost all his life.

The former Boston Bruins defender has discovered a new field of hockey to explore now: the virtual kind. Alberts is the director of player development for Sense Arenaa cognitive development tool for hockey that relies on virtual reality.

He joined the RinkWise podcast to discuss Sense Arena and his days with the Bruins, Flyers, Hurricanes and Canucks in the NHL.

A product of Boston College, Alberts is a Minnesota native who was drafted in the sixth round by the Bruins in 2001.

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About training hockey players with virtual reality:

“If you haven’t done VR yet, (when you do), you’ll be completely immersed in an environment. Our environment is clearly a hockey rink as we work in hockey skills. And it’s more or less, SenseArena is a cognitive, physical training platform. You are in a VR headset. For the player version, we have a haptic stick attachment that fits on your stick. Your stick vibrates when the puck hits your stick. So catch passes, shoot the puck. We are not a shooting or stick handling tool per se, but a great pass tool and of course a cognitive aid. So what we can do is we can simulate situations and game scenarios to give you reps that you can only get during training or only during matches or scrimmages. So, of course, to recreate a drill with game scenario drills, you need your teammates and the opponent, and you have to go through the reps. Now we can do that within the headset through different exercises – so you’re basically getting game reps.”

On his introduction to the NHL:

“If you could position yourself in the middle of (Interstate) 93 (in Boston) when cars are driving 75 (mph) right in front of you, so be it. Just because you’re going from a college game where our average height in BC was probably 5 feet-8 if we’re lucky, right? And even Hockey East is generally smaller compared to the WCHA. And now you play against men. Not to say that students are not men, but now you are playing against men. You play for money, for your job, for your career. You play every serve for your next contract. So for me it was a whirlwind, but it’s also like my dream is coming true at the same time. So I didn’t sleep for three days before my first game. I had made a deal with Boston where I was lucky enough to finish school – because that was very important to me. So I go back and forth, Providence (Brown) and BC.”

The podcast can be streamed on hockeyjournal.com/podcast and on major platforms, such as: Apple Podcasts and Spotify

“RinkWise” is brought to you by Lovell AcademyQuincy College and bando hockey

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