The RBZ line of sticks was in many ways responsible for the revival of CCM as a premier hockey equipment maker that we’ve seen take place over the last few years. The latest version is the RBZ SpeedBurner, released in July 2015. I’ve been lucky enough to have tested the stick for a couple months now, so here are my thoughts….
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with RBZ sticks, I’ve loved certain characteristics while not being a fan of others. That being said, I commend CCM for the fact that with every model released, they have improved on both the positive and negative attributes. Many other companies miss the mark on this, either fixing a problematic feature but failing to advance the good features or improving on the good but not fixing the things people don’t love. CCM consistently manages to improve on the things I love and things I dislike about their sticks.
I also like the fact that CCM never hesitates to ignore the aesthetic ‘norms’ when it comes to the RBZ line, continually releasing sticks that really stand out from the competition visually. First they released the mostly white RBZ when most other sticks on the market were black, then they went all red with the SuperFast and SpeedBurner models. Both surprised me when I first saw them and took some time for me to come around to, but I eventually grew to like the looks.
I have always been a fan of shooting with the RBZ sticks and the SpeedBurner is no different. CCM has once again team up with TaylorMade to create a blade with more C.O.R. (Coefficient of Restitution) or ‘trampoline effect’ than any other. This makes the puck really jump off of the blade on shots. It is also surprisingly accurate for a stick designed more for generating power than picking corners.
This was the first time in a while that I was able to test an RBZ stick in my preferred curve (P46) and flex (75), so I was able to really give it an accurate review. The puck absolutely flies off of the SpeedBurner blade, even harder than with the SuperFast in my opinion.
The custom kick point makes it super easy to load the shaft on shots. It’s not the quickest release on snap shots, but it loads very easily and smoothly and the puck comes off hard. I like that I can get solid shots off no matter where my hands are. Being able to release a shot quickly, without tipping off the goalie that a shot is coming, especially when they aren’t expecting it is such a huge part of hockey today. Goalies are so big, fast, smart and athletic that if they recognize that you are about to shoot, they already have the advantage.
The area where I feel this stick lacks is puck feel on the blade. It’s really been my criticism of the RBZ line since its original introduction. The blade is just too stiff for my personal preference & play style. That being said, the feel has improved with each version and that was especially true with the SpeedBurner. I think the jump from the SuperFast to the SpeedBurner was arguably the biggest advancement from one model to the next in this area. I felt the feel was much improved and while still stiffer than I would prefer, it was very much playable. A big part of that is simply personal preference, I prefer a softer blade but I’ve spoken to others who have used the SpeedBurner and liked the blade feel.
Lately, I have been doing a lot of goalie work when coaching, so I end up taking a ton of shots with minimal stickhandling. For that purpose, I honestly couldn’t hand pick a better stick than the SpeedBurner. I use it in games as well but when it comes to purely shooting this RBZ is the best option out there.
As I mentioned, the puck comes off the blade hard and accurately. I feel like I have a great ability to place my shots where I want to. I love that with the custom flex profile I can keep my lower hand a bit higher on the shaft and still get off a good shot. It allows me to really sling the puck quickly when working with goalies and get shots off rapid fire without resetting my hands every time.
One last issue that I have seen with RBZ sticks in the past, and that I have heard from others is blade durability issues. It was never something I found to be a major issue, but I did find that the blades tended to lose that impressive pop and start to weaken quicker than I would have liked. Nothing terribly drastic and nothing that made the stick unstable or unplayable, just enough to be noticeable.
CCM mentioned early in the year that they were aware of this feedback and they had put a focus on correcting it. They seem to have found a solution to that problem because after months of in-game and coaching use plus thousands of shots, I haven’t seen a drop-off in stiffness or performance of the blade.
The improved durability might be what I was most impressed with on the SpeedBurner. Many people think of a ‘durable stick’ as one that wont ever break. Unfortunately, those don’t exist and even the most durable stick around could snap in half at any time if it gets slashed or hit the right way. What I consider a durable stick is one that performs as well on the day it breaks as it did on the day I bought it, whether that’s 3 weeks, 3 months or 3 years. So far, the SpeedBurner has proven to have that type of durability.
As you can see I have my likes and dislikes about the CCM RBZ SpeedBurner stick and I think the likes heavily outweigh the dislikes. CCM continues to listen to players’ feedback and to improve on the things users don’t love. I still don’t love the puck feel on the blade, but it continues to get better and puck feel is one of the more subjective characteristics of a stick.
When looking at it strictly from a shooting perspective, the SpeedBurner is my favorite stick this year.