It’s hard to find a more hockey-centered family than the Pitlicks. From Mom and Dad to sons Rem and Rhett, every one of the Pitlicks makes hockey a priority.
It starts with Lance Pitlick, a former NHL hockey player who has turned his favorite sport into a family affair. Lance grew up in New Hope and went on to play hockey for the University of Minnesota, where he met his wife, Lisa. He was drafted out of college by the Minnesota North Stars in 1986. Although he never played for the hometown team, he played professional hockey, both in the minor leagues and the National Hockey League, from 1990 through 2002, playing five seasons for the Washington Senators and three for the Florida Panthers.
During this time, Lisa was along for the ride. She grew up a gymnast and never saw herself living a “hockey lifestyle,” she says. Later in Lance’s career, two boys came along: Rem, now 18, and Rhett, 14. The travel was difficult sometimes. “It is a tough time when you have young kids,” Lisa says. “With Lance on the road, I was alone a lot, but no matter what, it was worth it to see Lance reach his dream.”
After retiring in 2002, Lance started a business called Sweet Hockey, to help young players work on their skills. It began as a product line that offered tools for hockey players to improve their stick-handling ability.
“I started coaching my kids, and found a passion and real niche to help players get better at stick handling and shooting,” Lance says.
It was only natural, then, that both Rem and Rhett would take an interest in the sport, and both have built impressive hockey careers of their own. Rem currently plays in the junior United States Hockey League (USHL) in Michigan. He is verbally committed to the University of Minnesota and plans on playing for the Gophers next year. Rhett is playing Bantam hockey in Wayzata, and both hope to follow in their dad’s footsteps of playing in the NHL.
“I think it’s amazing that I’m playing junior hockey and being a competitive player at this level,” Rem says. “I look at my dad and see he played in the NHL, and I know it was a ton of work to get to that level. I hope to do the same someday.”
As they continue to grow in their hockey careers, they’ve also helped their parents with the family business. Sweet Hockey has morphed into an online database of lessons, intended to be coupled with the Pitlicks’ merchandise, which is now sold under the brand Sniper’s Edge. Lance, who also offers private lessons, is the hockey brains behind the brands, Lisa runs the books and works behind the scenes on the business, and Rem and Rhett try out new lessons to be featured in the online library.
Lance preaches hard work to his kids and everyone he teaches. It’s the backbone of not only being a great athlete, but being a well-rounded person: “I think if people have a goal and are passionate, and set out with the sole purpose of getting better, anything is achievable.”