The Equipment Office: Providence College Hockey’s Corey Rastello

Equipment-Manager-Logo

The second of our college hockey equipment manager series takes us to Rhode Island to chat with Providence College’s Corey Rastello.

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What’s your background as a player and equipment manager?/What made you decide to be a equipment manager?

I grew up in northern Michigan and played hockey from Kindergarten through High School and then played in a senior men’s league while attending college. I came into the world of equipment by chance. The summer after I graduated from high school in 2006 I was at the local driving range and the Associate AD at Michigan Tech asked what my plans were for college. I told him I was probably going to go to Ferris State and do the PGM program there. He told me if I wanted to, I could work in the equipment room at Michigan Tech and take some general courses.

I ended up going to Tech and working home hockey games, helping out around the locker room, learning how to sharpen skates and do basic repairs. I owe a lot to Roy Britz and Joel Isaacson for giving me the opportunity to work at Michigan Tech, Joel got my foot in the door and Roy took the time to teach me all the skills that I use today. After I graduated in 2011 I knew I still wanted to be an equipment manager, when you have a job you love you feel like you’re never “working!” I sent out e-mails to various professional equipment managers asking if they anticipated any openings for assistants, but nothing was going to open up. One day in June I got a phone call from Jamie Russell, he was the head coach at Michigan Tech when I was there and was the new assistant at Providence College. He said they were looking for a full-time equipment manager for Men’s and Women’s hockey and asked if I would be interested. After a few phone calls with Nate Leaman I went to Providence to interview and a few days later was offered the job!

I’ve been here at PC for the last three seasons with both hockey programs and have started to work with the college’s lacrosse team this year as well.
I’ve gotten the chance to travel internationally numerous times. My last year at Michigan Tech we traveled to Germany and Austria in the summer to play exhibition games against European professional teams. I’ve also worked a few tournaments for USA Hockey, in 2011. I went to Turkey with the Men’s National University team for the World University Games. I’ve also been to the IIHF Men’s Inline Hockey World Championships twice with the US and won a gold medal with them this past summer.

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What’s your favorite part of the job?

My favorite part of the job is the unpredictability of everything. I know I’m going to sharpen skates and I know I’m going to be doing laundry – other than that, anything can happen; a strap can rip on a goalie pad and will need to be sewn, a holder can break on a skate and need to be replaced, a cap can break on a players shin pad and need to be replaced (if the player is comfortable in that pair of pads). Injuries can cause a need to add additional protection to skates, gloves, pants, shoulder pads, etc. Every day is unique and challenges pop up all the time, it keeps things fresh and lively.

What do you consider the most challenging part of the job?

The most challenging part of the job are the long days. I’m currently taking night classes to get my MBA so I usually have to come back to finish up laundry after class. My student manager Doug Ferry is a huge help and I can’t thank him enough for the countless hours he puts in. He will travel with the women and set up their practices and also help out with the men, lacrosse and laundry whenever possible. Our video coordinator Zach Longo also helps out with getting laundry started when he can.

Another equally daunting challenge is making sure that the players are comfortable and ready to compete day in and day out, but at the same time not spoiling them. There is a fine line between the two and I’ve been fortunate enough to work for coaching staffs who understand the need versus want mentality of the players.

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What is the oddest or most ridiculous player request or player gear habit you’ve had?

There are too many….
Habits: I’ve had kids put their sticks in some weird spots before games, some put them in the bathroom stalls or even the toilet bowl, others put them in garbage cans. A lot of kids are starting to draw stuff on their tape handles: crown’s, shooting stars, former teammates initials, crosses, etc. One girl used to separate her fruit snacks by color before games and then eat them all in a certain order. I think the strangest ritual I’ve seen is when our women’s team sings “Build me up Buttercup” and “Our House” before they go on the ice for games, I don’t understand why they do it, but if it helps them win and feel comfortable, it’s fine by me.

Requests: I’ve had a goalie ask to NOT get his helmet painted which is weird because most kids jump at the chance to design their own helmet. I’ve had another goalie request that his edges not be sharpened square on his skates so that his inside edges were taller than his outside and help him push off the post, I have a player at PC now who prefers a two piece stick, one of our goalies at Tech had me color in a stripe on his glove with a black Sharpie because he didn’t like the way the gold looked. Basically….goalies are weird. If you get a normal one, enjoy your time with him!

What was your best in-game solution or fix to get somebody with a gear/injury requirement issue back on the ice?

My first game at Providence one of our defensemen tore his jersey from the armpit down through the bottom of the jersey, straight across the stomach, and across the back. It was a nightmare, but it happened at the end of the period luckily, so I had 20 minutes to work with. I ran to the equipment room and grabbed my can of spray adhesive and one of the old white practice jerseys we use for spare fabric. I cut up the practice jersey into strips and put the adhesive on to bring the jersey back together before sewing the seams back in. By the time I finished and ran back to the locker room, the team was just heading back on the ice for the 2nd period. I could have probably just gave him the spare jersey, but most equipment managers, including myself, love a challenge.

What is in YOUR bag?

Two Sets of tape (white, black, clear, grip), wax, spare laces (96″ and 108″), hand warmers, smelling salts, rub sticks, skate stones, Blademaster Lil’ Red edge tool, 4 screw drivers, 2 nut drivers, 2 pairs of pliers, spare Bauer steel for the Edge and Lightspeed System, spare helmet and skate parts, cough drops, a pack of Extra Classic Bubble Gum, 2 towels, extra dry erase markers, extra pens, 2 pairs of scissors, Tape Tiger, Sewing Kit, Sewing Awl ready with wax thread, and a set of spare toe straps for Jon Gillies goalie pads.

Typical Day for Me

On a typical practice day I’ll work out in the morning and then get to the rink around 9:00 a.m. depending on how many repairs still need to be done from the previous day. The first thing I’ll do is start the laundry for the strength room sweat towels while I tie up loose ends from the previous day.

After that, I’ll check the mailbox and process any paperwork/invoices that need to be taken care of before checking my e-mail to get the days practice plan from coach Leaman and set the player jersey’s accordingly and then it’s lunch time. The guys start to come in around 12:30 p.m. and the girls start to arrive around 2:30 p.m., and we stand by in case any sharpening or repairs need to be done. As soon as the men get done at 4 p.m, their Jersey’s go in the wash, once everybody is done cold tubbing and getting treatments in the training room the under gear and towels go in the wash.

We do the same thing for the women when they finish at 6:00 p.m. The laundry for hockey is usually totally done by 8:00 p.m. Lacrosse has an evolving practice schedule and changes throughout the week based on player class schedules, sometimes they don’t leave until 8:30 p.m. and I will come back to the rink after my classes end at 9:30 pm to finish their laundry and make sure they are ready for the next day. We sharpen all the skates and try to do all the repairs while we do laundry so we can start with a clean slate in the morning.

Game days are much longer, I usually start around 9:00 a.m. If we’re at home I won’t leave until about midnight, if coming back from a road trip I’m usually here until 1:30 a.m. – 3:00 a.m. depending on who we played that night.

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Favorite League Road Trip:

University of Vermont

Favorite College Road Trip:

University Of Wisconsin

Best Visitor Set Up:

Northern Michigan University


Interview with Iggy Tarajos: Dartmouth Hockey Equipment Manager

We had the pleasure to interview Dartmouth College Hockey Equipment Manager Iggy Tarajos. He had some great insights as to what it’s like being an equipment manager at college hockey’s highest level.

Iggy Tarajos

1. What’s your background as a player and equipment manager? What made you decide to be an equipment manager?

Well, to start, I played organized hockey for 18 years of my life and I feel hockey is the biggest commitment I’ve ever had. I played organized youth hockey in Biddeford, Maine, where I call home. I played three seasons at my respective High School in Kennebunk, ME and after high school I chose to give my talents a better shot at playing hockey at the college level, so I left my senior year to play for the Junior Pirates junior organization in Saco, ME. After four seasons on various Pirates’ clubs, I was recruited to Plymouth State University, where I played one season. After the second season, I came to the realization that my playing career was over when I was not asked back due to ability! Be that as it may, I took an opportunity to start my career as an Equipment Manager. As a child I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time as a stick boy at AHL level working under Brock Myles, who is now the Head Equipment Manager for the Washington Capitals. So I had some background in the industry and I knew I wanted to stay in the sport anyway I could. The next three seasons at Plymouth while completing my sports Management Major, I built my own office and started pouring equipment manager ideas out; things like building a sufficient, fully functional equipment room and other stuff. As you know, hockey is an intricate sport with many variables and components to each player. The armor of a hockey player is the basis of the sport and each player is a puzzle of their own. Whether you’re a speed guy, a playmaker or a checker, the gear you choose defines you as a player and without it you can be lost. This is the way I look at my job – keeping the players comfortable as well as safe is most crucial to the success of the team. Now I’m finishing up my first season working with Dartmouth Men’s Hockey and I’m very grateful for getting a job right out of school and moving up towards my ultimate goal of becoming a Professional Hockey Equipment Manager. I decided I wanted to make a career of Equipment Managing when I realized how important the position was to a team. As an ex-player I feel I know what the players are going through, so who better to be there for them then me?!

2. What’s your favorite part of the job?

Well I think that ultimately like any competitor, the best part of the job is winning. There is nothing like the feeling after a win with a group of guys knowing that everyone chipped in to do their part in getting the win for the team. From the athletic trainers to the coaching staff to the media guys, operations staff and players – everyone has a job to do. When everything goes smooth and we get the win, there’s nothing more fun.

Iggy helmet

3. What do you consider the most challenging part of the job?

I’d have to say that the most challenging part of the job is staying consistent night in and night out. Players are big on preparation routines and when something is out of place, challenges arise. It’s a long season, so staying consistent to the needs of the players from sharpening to stick cuts is important to how the player performs on the ice throughout the season.

4. What is the oddest or most ridiculous player request or player gear habit you’ve had?

When I was at Plymouth state, my second season a player asked if I had any “face moisturizer” on hand in my office. I know that the pros have toiletry items on hand at all times, but at Division III it’s very slim. The Women’s coach had a personal bottle in her office that the player used, but that was the funniest request I’ve received so far in my career.

Iggy Rivets

5. What was your best in-game solution or fix to get somebody with a gear/injury requirement issue back on the ice?

The skate edges of player are very important. When a player steps on something or loses and edge, the blade needs to be fixed so the player can skate. The new Bauer “Edge” holders have made this very helpful for equipment guys like me to replace for the players on the fly. This has changed the time frame tremendously for fixing that. Before, I would have the player unlace the skate and I’d have to run to the sharpener to sharpen the skate. Now, I get to quickly replace the steel with a snap of the Edge trigger. I’m still waiting for that goalie strap to snap mid game, but I’m pretty prepared with the tools I bring to the bench.

6. What is in YOUR bag?

I bring maybe a little more then I need to the bench and at times other equipment guys have said it’s a little excessive. I feel you always have to be prepared for whatever might happen and for the majority of rinks we go to, the benches are a long way from the locker room, sometimes even across the ice. I bring extra sharpened steel in each size with steel removal tools. I bring one style of each tape. I bring hard and soft wax. I bring two rub sticks. I bring an edge again hand sharpener. I bring a few stones, a sweet stick, and plenty of helmet screws. For tools I bring screwdrivers, scissors, pliers, thick needle and wax thread, and a lighter. Oh and super glue. So yeah, maybe excessive but I feel I’m ready for whatever comes. I also have a full spread of tools I leave by the locker room and travel with.

 

Be sure to check back on the blog for more interviews from equipment managers around the league, giving you first hand knowledge of exactly what players are looking for in their gear.

If you want to check out some more of Iggy’s day-to-day, throw him a follow on twitter @EQguy44 He’s always posting great gear photos right from the locker room.


Team Sweden Olympic Hockey Gear Breakdown

So round robin play is over and your leader going into the knockout round is Team Sweden. Seeded number one, Let’s take a look at what the Team Sweden olympic hockey team is wearing.

Sweden-Olympic-Infographic

We broke it down by each piece of gear…

Skates…

1. Bauer 71.4%
2. Reebok 19.0%
3. CCM 9.5%

Sticks…

1. Easton 28.6%
2. Warrior 23.8%
3. Reebok 19.0%
4. Bauer 19.0%
5. CCM 9.5%

Gloves…

1. Warrior 38.1%
2. Bauer 19.0%
3. Easton 19.0%
4. Reebok 14.3%
5. CCM 9.5%

Helmets…

1. Bauer 42.9%
2. CCM 28.6%
3. Reebok 14.3%
4. Easton 9.5%
5. Warrior 4.8%

We looked by position…

Forwards…

1. Bauer 48.1%
2. Warrior 19.2%
3. CCM 11.5%
4. Easton 11.5%
5. Reebok 9.6%

Defensemen…

1. CCM 25.0%
2. Bauer 21.9%
3. Reebok 21.9%
4. Easton 18.8%
5. Warrior 12.5%

Goalies…

1. Bauer 40.0%
2. Reebok 33.3%
3. Warrior 26.7%

All coming together for a grand total of…

1. Bauer 34.5%
2. Warrior 17.9%
3. CCM 13.1%
4. Easton 11.9%
5. Reebok 11.9%

Any surprises? Click here to download the full size graphic and take a closer look…


Pure Hockey’s Olympic Hockey Preview

It’s been 3 days since we’ve seen a professional hockey game and if you’re like me, you are losing your mind at this point. Well tomorrow is the day that one of the best tournaments in the game begins. We decided to run through some of the contenders one-by-one.

Team Canada

We’ll begin with defending gold medal winners, Team Canada. Their depth is so ridiculous that we are pretty sure that you could put together a gold medal team out of the Canadian players who DIDN’T make the team! Ah, but let’s focus on the guys that will be in Sochi.

When Matt Duchene and Marty St. Louis are your, um “extra forwards,” you are in pretty darn good shape. No team can truly cover the loss of an injured Steven Stamkos, but if any team in Sochi can minimize the impact, Canada can. This is an extremely well-rounded forward group with high level talent across the board, led by captain Sidney Crosby. Combine that with some of the best two-way forwards in the world like Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews and then throw in Rick Nash, Ryan Getzlaf, Jamie Benn – and you’ve got some of the most talented grit you’ll find anywhere. That’s not even mentioning some of the best shooters around in Patrick Sharp, Corey Perry and Jeff Carter. Not bad, eh? With 7 of 14 returning from the 2010 games, plus a handful of NHL teammate pairs playing together, the acclimation period should be short.

On the point, they are led by Shea Weber and are arguably the most solid from top to bottom, with a lot of speed and a lot more power. The biggest question mark comes in goal. The frontrunners to start are Roberto Luongo and Carey Price, both with well-documented struggles in pressure situations. Price has the edge this season based on their NHL stats and play, but Luongo did backstop Canada to the 2010 gold medal.

olympic 2010

Team USA

To say there was controversy about some of the player choices would be an understatement, as star players like Bobby Ryan and Kyle Okposo will be watching from home. The defending Silver Medalists who lost in OT of the final game in 2010 made some interesting decisions going into Sochi, electing for a bit more brute force and grit instead of building a speed first, skill team.

Not to say the US lacks skill players. Names like Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane and Zach Parise come to mind when talking about some of the best talents in the tournament. But it feels to me like many of the US forwards would choose to go through, rather than around the opposing defenseman. On the larger Olympic ice sheet, we have to question whether that type of game can really win out. The United States D core looks solid. Comprised of a good mix of veteran presence who can really bring the boom, like Ryan Suter and Brooks Orpik, as well as some young, quick puck movers like Justin Faulk and Kevin Shattenkirk.

The biggest advantage for the USA comes in the crease. Although none may be considered the best tendy in the games, all are in the conversation, giving the US arguably the strongest, most stable goaltending trio from top-to-bottom. Jonathan Quick, who in recent years has solidified himself as one of the NHL’s top goalies; Ryan Miller, the tournament’s reigning MVP and Jimmy Howard the backstop for perennial playoff contender Detroit. Our feeling is the round robin will see all 3 goalies get a shot, with coach Dan Bylsma riding the hot hand through the knockout rounds.

Team Russia

Another potential contender for this year’s Olympic hockey is host Team Russia. Russians will be proud to know they have already one the gold medal for team with the most ‘Alex’s’ coming in with a staggering eight of them – that’s gotta be a coach’s nightmare.

Long known as a highly skilled team, this iteration will be no different. Led by captain Pavel Datsyuk, arguably the best offensive and defensive forward on the planet. Datsyuk’s Olympics looked to be in jeopardy due to injury, but he’s now practicing with the team in Sochi, so it seems unlikely he will sit out. Add to that Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Vlad Tarasenko and Evgeni Malkin and you have a pretty explosive offense with those players alone. Oh yeah, did you forget about former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk? He’ll be back on the world’s hockey radar for the first time since ‘retiring’ from the league and opting to play in the KHL. For being a quick, skilled team up front, they sure can play physical on the back end. Guy’s like Slava Voynov, Alexei Yemelin and Fedor Tyutin can certainly throw the body and bring some edge to Russia’s game.

Russia’s goaltending is nothing to scoff at, but the play of its two NHL tenders has been far from impressive this season. Both Semyon Varlomov and Sergei Bobrovsky have spent the season hovering around a 2.50 GAA and 0.920 save percentage, not bad but not great. Each, however, are capable of stealing the tournament.

Team Sweden

Henrik Lundquist. Is that enough of an analysis? Guy lives for international competition, remember when he came out of relative obscurity, being an NHL rookie, went 5-1 and led Sweden to Gold in 2006?

Sweden enters the tournament as one of the favorites. They join Team USA and Team Canada as the only squads comprised completely of NHL players. The always smooth-skating Swedish team is led upfront by Henrik Zetterberg, Alex Steen, Gabe Landeskog and Daniel Sedin. Tons of speed and even more skill. A pretty versatile defense core splitting between guys like Niklas Kronwall who can absolutely lay guys out, then on the other end of the spectrum there’s Erik Karlsson; one of the elite offensive defenseman in the world.

In net, back to my original argument… Henrik Lundquist

Team Finland

Finland isn’t a highly touted team coming into the games, but they are definitely what we’d consider a dark horse team who, at the very least has the potential to knock around the standings a bit and is one of the most consistent medaling teams in the history of the games.

Led by Olli Jokinen, Jussi Jokinen and Teemu Selanne (playing in his record tying 6th Olympic games), there is no question that Finland has some talent upfront, but not as impressive a roster as some other nations. On the blue line, veteran Kimmo Timonen is the leader, along with Sami Salo and Pens impressive youngster Olli Maatta adding stability.

In goal, Finland is another team in the conversation for the best top to bottom goaltending trio. All three having proven themselves in the NHL, Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi and Tuukka Rask will be formidable in the Finnish crease. Rask looks to be the leader out of the gate to start, although he has had some tough games for the Bruins in the last few weeks. With Niemi having won a Stanley cup in Chicago and Rask having led the Bruins to the cup finals last season, both have built a reputation for stepping up in pressure situations.

My bold predictions:

lundquist oly

Gold Medal Game:

Sweden 5 vs Canada 3

Bronze Medal Game:

USA 4 vs Russia 1

How about you? What do you think? Settle in, it’s gonna be a fun ride…..