The Pure Hockey Stick Challenge

Pure-Hockey-Stick-Challenge

More than anything, we are hockey players too. If you’ve ever shopped in one of our stores or on our website, we know it can be pretty overwhelming to see the myriad options for hockey sticks. Even we will admit it’s kind of ridiculous sometimes. Even the sticks at the elite level (let’s call it $230 or above), there’s 10-12 different options between brands. How the heck do you make sense of it all?

Looking for the results? Check it out: Stick Challenge Scoreboard

Oh, you could read all the marketing material that the vendors produce. Sometimes it all sounds the same, though, doesn’t it? I mean, how many times have you heard that THIS is the stick that will increase your velocity? Or make your stickhandling somehow improve magically? Does Patrick Kane’s fancy stickhandling give you ANY sense of how that stick feels in your own hands? Does Claude Giroux’s ability to shoot pucks into a bucket give you a better sense of your own accuracy? Does Pavel Datsyuk’s ridiculous puck control ability convince you that Reebok is just the stick for you? We’d argue no. No way.

Technical specs and product descriptions are certainly a piece of the puzzle, but really what matters is this: how does the stick feel in your hands? Does the puck go where you want it to go when you shoot it? Does it flex the way you’d like it to? Those are really and truly what should influence your buying decisions. Not pretty pictures or viral videos.

With that in mind, we got it into our heads a while back that we should ask the vendors (Bauer, Reebok, CCM, Easton, Warrior and Sher-Wood) to send us some of their elite sticks – with no markings whatsoever. We were a little nervous to ask because we knew the first question they would ask — WHY. Sure enough, almost all of them asked it. The only two who didn’t ask us why was Warrior and Sher-Wood – they sent us blacked-out sticks right away, no questions asked. Pat on the back for them!

Bauer and Easton asked why and we told them our plan. They immediately sent us the sticks. Much appreciated.

CCM/Reebok declined,. Now, to be fair, we can’t really black out a Ribcor because of the ribs on the shaft – anyone is going to look at those and know its a Ribcor. We would have liked a 20K, but Reebok declined. Since they are the same company as CCM, we were also told not to expect any blacked-out RBZ’s either. No real reason given. Easton – same thing.

But we really wanted blacked out Easton and CCM sticks, no real stick test can occur without those two heavyweights involved. So we went to the local hardware store and purchased some matte black spray paint and just spray painted them. We weighed both sticks prior to and after painting and surprisingly there was no difference in weight. Voila! We had our five latest, elite level sticks, all blacked out. The list:

Bauer APX2
Warrior DT1-LT
CCM RBZ Stage2
Sher-Wood EK15
Easton V9

Note: we had to eliminate the V9E due to the elliptical shaft – again, too easy to spot the difference there and we wanted this to be as anonymous as possible.

Armed with 5 sticks of relatively equal specs – flexes in the mid-80s, all roughly the same as the most popular curve (Kane) and cut to the same height, we set out to do some TRUE testing. In our initial set of sessions, we grabbed five players from Southern New Hampshire University’s men’s team and two of our store managers (Danvers MA and Nashua NH). In our second set of sessions, we gave the sticks to the Boston Junior Bruins. We interviewed each player before each session and asked them what stick they currently use and why – then we sent them on the ice with their blacked-out beauties for some shooting. Afterward, we interviewed them again about which one they liked the best.

This is the Pure Hockey Stick Challenge. We hope you enjoy it. We sure did. We’ll be releasing a series of videos in the coming weeks and months detailing each player, their session and their choices.

Then we’ll really see which stick(s) resonate with players.

We hope you enjoy it! Here’s video #1, with Nashua NH store manager Rick Stuart.


The New Bauer Vapor x100 LE and How It Stacks Up

The Bauer Vapor x100 LE Release

When it comes to the limited edition hockey skates, Bauer puts itself in a class of its own. Every year we are getting at least one or two limited edition skates from these guys. That’s not to say that Bauer’s competitors don’t participate in the LE game, since in the past we have seen LE’s out of Easton and CCM. Reebok’s even implemented products such as the White K to offer some variety to those who are interested in something less traditional. I’ve never really bought into the idea of limited edition skates, but even I have to say that Bauer has done something pretty cool here with the new Bauer Vapor x100 LE.

The newest limited edition scheme from Bauer is a culmination of smaller good ideas that Bauer has had in the past, pressed into one flashy skate. They’ve ditched the classic “Vapor Red” and moved to an almost Graf-neon-green for the boot’s trim and thread. I think they did a great job of choosing a unique color (since we all know how popular these neon colors have been lately) but not overloading it into the skate. We all know that it looks great, but this being a blog about the skate’s release, I have to hit you with some performance specs about the skates. So if all you’re looking for is a recap of some limited edition skates, scroll down, because its nerd time here for a couple minutes:

Vapor x100 LE Tech Features Breakdown

– The 3D lasted Curv® Composite upper with X-rib pattern…what’s that? Well, in English this refers to the boot structure itself. This feature gives the skate unreal ankle support, which means you’re transferring energy efficiently, and getting as much power as possible in each stride.

– All new this year is the Tuuk Edge Holder. This patented holder has a quick release trigger so that the runners can be swapped in-and-out in seconds. Also, the boot sits 3mm taller than previous models, meant to prevent the skate from bottoming out and improving your turning radius.x100LE-6

– Bauer, per usual, has used the Hydra-Max Liner again. It displays top-notch durability and does more than enough to resist moisture, ensuring that your skate won’t double in weight from sweat. The upper liner is dense and meant to maintain stability and the lower portion has a softer, more comfortable construction.

– One feature I like is the FormFit-3, 52 oz., 3-piece pro felt tongue. This guy is tall and thick and made of felt. Some people thought that last year’s tongue needed to be beefed up a bit. Not anymore. Great lace-bite protection, and no need to search for a custom tongue. It’s made for potation and comfort, and comes ready to “flop”.

– Once again, Bauer uses their Form-Fit+ footbed in the X100 LE. This footbed is meant to grip your foot, not only for comfort, but for your protection also. Working with the built-in heel stabilizer, they ensure that there is no sliding of your foot on the footbed. Any lateral movement within the skate could potentially result in serious injury while making cuts.

With all this talk about Limited Edition hockey skates, I started thinking back to some prior LE’s from Bauer, so here’s a quick rundown of some LE’s from the past….. CONTINUE READING ARTICLE


Composite Hockey Stick Weigh-In – Fall 2013

So it’s that time again, a bunch of fancy new composite hockey sticks have been released, so it’s time to weigh-in. Another weigh-in, another clean sweep for Bauer, says a lot about their composite technology. All sticks weighed were 85 flex, and P92/E3 pattern or the equivalent.

And the lightest stick this fall is…..

1)   Bauer Vapor APX2                                   419 Grams

2)   Bauer Nexus 1000LE                                   420 g

3)   Bauer Supreme TotalOne NXG                  424 g

4)   Reebok Ribcor                                              426 g

5)   CCM RBZ Stage 2                                         429 g

6)   Easton V9                                                      432 g

7)   Sherwood T100                                             441 g

8)   Easton V9E                                                   442 g

9)   Warrior Covert DT1 LT                              467 g

10) Sherwood 5030                                           641 g

Just for fun, we weighed a Sherwood 5030, one of the more popular wood sticks ever. The 5030 weighed in at 641 g. Almost 200 g heavier than the heaviest stick on the list for this weigh in. That’s almost a HALF POUND!!!

So at the end of the day, Bauer is still champ, taking the win, place and show for this weigh in, but Reebok and CCM kept it extremely close and had an excellent showing themselves. Another surprising stat was the two Easton models being 10 grams different.  The Warrior Covert DT1 LT came in last, significantly heavier than the rest, but keep in mind that Warrior sticks are built about 3-4” taller than most other brands.


Bauer APX 2 vs. CCM RBZ Skate Side-By-Side Comparison

 Bauer APX2 Comparison  CCM RBZ Skate Comparison

Bauer and CCM both made some big improvements for their respective skate launches this year. CCM has made more improvements to their RBZ skates, but in fairness to Bauer, CCM had a longer road to travel down in terms of quality. The good news – CCM is now right there and has built a skate that matches up with the very best of them.

Both companies focused on a few features to improve upon, releasing a new holder with their respective launches, an upgraded lacing system, a new tongue and an improved quarter construction material.

Boot Construction: Both CCM and Bauer used a material new to their respective lines for this season. Bauer crosses over the CURV composite material (previously seen on the Supreme line) to the APX2 skates. Combined with their X-Rib pattern, the Bauer boot provides your foot with maximum structural support and stability. This allows for the best energy transfer, leading to quicker turns and faster acceleration.

The RBZ, on the other hand, is built from the CCM SpeedCore Technology. This provides pro level stiffness to maximize your foot reaction speed and explosiveness. The boot is 24% stiffer than CCM’s last pro-level skate, the U+CL. CCM also overhauled the actual inner fit of the boot, giving it a wider fit than most boots and giving it much greater contour. This makes for a true heel lock and helps to secure your heel in the boot. Less movement inside the boot leads to more control on the ice. The Action Form Foam core is still highly moldable, but this skate has CCM’s best out of the box feel ever – and far better overall fit than previous models.

 Bauer APX2 Comparison  CCM RBZ Skate Comparison

 

Tongue: Both tongues are new for this year. Both companies took the hint from their pro and college players by putting in tongues that are most requested at the very highest levels. CCM put in a pro-style felt tongue with injected foam to help prevent lace bite as well as give you a little bit of protection from impact. Bauer’s APX2 also went over to a more traditional felt tongue, with an abrasion guard on the front to help stop lace bite.

Lacing: The new lacing system on the APX2 from Bauer is quite innovative. They put in place a one-piece injected lacing system. This maximizes the energy return and transfer in every stride. On top of that it helps retain its consistency throughout the life of the skate, preventing individual eyelets from failing and strengthening the durability of the skate. This feature gives Bauer a large advantage over competitors, as it’s unique and useful.

The CCM RBZ has a lacing pattern which attacks fit and flex issues that many players have voiced. In the fore foot of the skate, the eyelets have a little more give and are closer together, allowing for a better wrap in the lower foot where it is needed. The upper section of eyelets are stiffer and face straight out to give players forward flex as needed.

Holders: Last but certainly not least, both companies released new holders this year, both of which are taller than their predecessors. CCM’s SpeedBlade 4.0 is 4 mm taller and Bauer’s TUUK LightSpeed Edge is 3 mm taller. This is done so that you can get lower to the ice in turns, producing quicker turns and more power exiting turns.

 Bauer APX2 Comparison  rbz-blade

The CCM holder is strengthened using their Speed Ribs, creating less torsion and less deflection. This leads to better control and less energy loss in stride. The SB 4.0 also features industry standard holes for mounting, allowing the holder to be easily mounted on other manufacturers’ skates. The steel itself is the SB HyperGlide, a polished steel runner, designed for less friction and better glide. It is also made from a harder steel, allowing it to hold its edges longer than many other models on the market.

The APX2 features the TUUK LightSpeed Edge holder, revolutionary for allowing players to change their steel in a matter of seconds. The trigger on the holder allows you to change your steel in case of breakage or a lost edge – without even taking off your skates. The steel runner is an updated version of the LS Fusion runner. It is made from elite stainless steel fused with high-grade aluminum, to reduce weight by 27% compared to standard steel runners. Fused aluminum lightens the runner without lowering the sharpening life.

A very nice final addition to the RBZ skate comes in the footbed, as included in the box is CCM’s new custom support insoles. This insole system is designed to be fit to your foot, falling into the category of low, mid, or high arches. The increased support maximizes contact between and connection from your foot to the sole of your skate. This increased connection gives you better control of the skate and an increased foot reaction speed.

In summary, Bauer basically continues on their path of making excellent skates. With each release of their pro-level skates, Bauer consistently finds elements to improve. The two biggest things in our eyes with the APX2 skates are the new lacing system and the ability to swap out your steel and not miss a shift.

CCM has completely revamped their skate line and is now right there with Bauer (or anyone) in terms of fit, quality and comfort. If you’ve previously been averse to CCM skates, now is the time to put them on your feet and give them a try, because the RBZ skate is legit. In a big way. As always, we won’t really recommend one over the other – everyone’s foot is different and it’s ALL about what feels best to you.