Bruins Skating Faster on North Shore-made Blades

Tuesday February 21, 2023

Holly Janvrin and Zack Bolduc hold a blade in front of the CO2 laser.jpg

AMESBURY – If your favorite Boston Bruin seems to be faster this season and looking less fatigued in the third period, it might be because he is skating on an experimental titanium blade that is about half the weight of stainless-steel blades and slides smoother across the ice.
The blades, being worn by Boston’s top players as part of a test, also hold an edge better. And they do not rust.
The trial run of these new blades started with a collaboration at CIWorks here when two avid Bruins fans struck up a conversation about their beloved hockey, a sport they both played.
Zack Bolduc and Holly Beth Janvrin discovered they have much in common. Besides being hockey buffs, they lived at different times in the same house in Amesbury. Both are entrepreneurs with boundless curiosity about how things work.
Bolduc, an Amesbury High School and UMass Lowell alumni, interned with Department of Defense contractors and worked on the side with the Bruins, all while playing amateur hockey. Learning from his father, a physicist for the Defense Department, he is fascinated by and has insights into new uses of military-grade metals and materials.
Several years ago, when he was working with a company in Burlington, Bolduc began collaboratively experimenting with titanium as a skate blade.
After several Bruins agreed to try the experimental blades he created, he wanted a way to personalize them for the top players in the league and to help the equipment managers keep track of whose skates they were.
That’s where Janvrin, known as Holly B., thought she could help. A bright light among the companies that lease space in the old mill building at 11 Chestnut St., she has developed a following for her fractured wood as popular gifts. Recently she began experimenting with a CO2 laser her husband, a utility lineman, bought her. She combines the laser with sand etching to transfer images from the laser to glass.
Could she etch the name and number of each Bruins players on the titanium skate? Maybe add the Bruins’ logo? Bolduc asked.
Holly B. jumped at the chance. Janvrin’s father, Ray (Skip) Arthur, who coached her team, the Scouts, in the New England Girls Hockey Assn. and played himself for the Amesbury Maples hockey team, would have been so excited for her to be involved with the Bruins, she said.
The result is a slick slice of titanium that could be a work of art when not taking a pounding on the ice.
“The players feel like the blade was made specifically for them,” Bolduc said.
While still an experiment, none of the Bruins players skating on the titanium blades have asked to return to wearing stainless-steel, Bolduc said.
The titanium blades allow the player to lift 150 pounds less with their legs per game. For a full season, they are lifting 12,500 pounds less, he said.
The Bruins and the National Hockey League are a great test, Bolduc said. The players are huge, some six and a half feet tall and weighing more than 200 pounds.
With that kind of pounding night after night, Bolduc is testing how the sharpening and composition of the titanium blades holds up.
“Zack and Holly are one example, where exchanging ideas led to an improved product, happy customers and a hockey puck business growth curve (excuse the pun),” wrote Mark Friery, founder and CFO of CIWorks.
CI Works, founded by Robert O’Brien and Friery, provides space to dozens of companies, many of them manufacturers, that are in early stages of their development.
“Small business owners are among the most collaborative innovators out there,” Friery wrote. “When you combine their energy in a collaborative environment with few walls and many common areas; ranging from a shared café, conference rooms, wide hallways displaying community made products, multiple parking areas and loading docks – their ideas collide like energy particles in an accelerator and in so doing generate collaborative business expansion.”

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