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Echolalia

How Do You Like Your Equipment?

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So I've been playing hockey since I was a kid. Growing up, my coaches always used me as more of a defensive forward, because I was a taller, lankier kid with long arms in high school. I also got used to playing with hockey sticks that weren't cut, so the butt of the stick often came up to my eyes/nose when I stood the stick up (ie really long reach, excellent poke-checking capabilities). This is the way I've had my hockey sticks ever since, even though the role on my teams has gradually shifted to more of an offensive playmaker/scorer type. The biggest issue I've had with my game is that my shot is fairly weak, and it takes me longer than I'd like to set up for a shot. In order to remedy this, I tried cutting to a much shorter stick, with the thought that my lower hand will be closer to the blade of the stick and I'll be able to put more muscle into my shots now, and with a shorter stick the puck will be closer to me and I'll be more ready to shoot the puck from stick-handling, instead of having the puck another foot out from my body and having to take an extra step to pull it in before shooting with the longer stick.

The stick is now cut so the butt comes up to my collarbone when I'm on skates, so its a good 6 to 7 inches shorter than what I'm used to. I've played one game with it like this and I can't believe how different the experience is. With a shorter stick, it forces me to have more bend in my knees and at the hips just to keep the blade flat on the ice, so I find that my skating is more explosive. Previously I was more of a back-is-straight kind of skater and most of the work came just from my knees. I also find that I am way tougher to get the puck from in tight spaces. There were several times in the last game where I was able to fight through poke checks or resist stick-lifts, or come out of a scrum of guys in the corner and still maintain possession of the puck. I owe this to the fact that I'm able to put more of my weight through my lower hand and into the stick, and my body overall is closer to the ice, and thus harder to move.

Stick-handling/deking I would say has gone back a step, although I was doing much better with toe-drags. With the longer stick, my range for stick-handling was pretty wide, and I could go wide left to wide right on a defender quickly, and be out of his range on both sides, so getting around guys was pretty easy if I could just find the holes. Now its a bit more of a challenge, and I need to change my game to be more comfortable stick-handling closer to my body, and relying more on foot speed.

Defensively I didn't feel that much of a disadvantage. My range is definitely smaller, but I think the increase in speed that I got from playing with more bend at my knees and hips made up for the shorter range in most cases.

As for shooting power/speed of setting up the shot (which is the whole reason for the change), the jury is still out. I can definitely get my shots off quicker, because I'm stick-handling pretty much right in my wheelhouse now instead of away from my body, and I feel like I can put more mustard onto my shots as well. The problem is I'm so used to shooting the puck when its further out from my body, so there were many times where I would shoot the puck and not even make solid contact becauseI had pushed the puck too far from my body. Unfortunately this happened during the shootout, where I whiffed on the puck and didn't even get a real shot off... This is going to take some time to get used to.

Overall I'm really excited about the changes, and I'm looking forward to getting back on the ice to keep working on getting more comfortable with a shorter stick.

Anyway I figured that I'd share my experience, partly because before I decided to go to a shorter stick I did some research online to see whether anyone else had gone through the transition, or could summarize their opinion of the pros/cons of long vs short sticks. There wasn't much out there and it was mostly all the same stuff that people were repeating (a stick should go between your nose and your chin on skates, longer stick = harder shot, shorter stick= better deking etc), and after going through with it first hand, I've noticed that its more complicated than all the generalizations that are published online.

And for conversation sake, I was interested to hear how you guys and gals prefer your equipment and why, and whether you've made any changes to accommodate a change in the type of game you play. It could be hockey stick, skates, gloves, anything.

edit: this also gives us something to talk about that isn't Dekeyser still hasn't signed! Alfie is injured! Cleary is wasting a roster spot! etc

Edited by Echolalia

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Since having a few herniated discs in my lower back 10 years ago - I haven't played since...

That said - I had Graf 703 skates - size 10.5 (wear size 12 shoe) - wore no socks since I preferred the extra tightness with no slip in the boot.

I also preferred light/loose fitting gear...Wore the flimsy cheap shoulder pads (most of the time I didn't wear any) - although I did invest more into my elbow pads/pants/shin guards...I liked my pants to be a bit more roomy (old CCM 420 pants)...Not sure how I'd like today's gear which appears to be tighter fitting.

As for sticks - I had them cut very short (right about, or slightly below the 'nipple line' when I was in skates)...As a tall guy with longs arms, and playing D - I found that having a longer stick made it easy for any opponent to strip me of the puck...By keeping my stick short I also kept the puck closer to my body, and with that I had a better time holding onto it without coughing it up.

EDIT - I also adjusted my skating stance with the shorter stick; alot more bend in the knees, and a bit wider stance...I did my best to improve my skating with off ice workouts - primarily on the stationary bike, and eliptical trainer.

While on the bike - instead of 'normal' pedaling by pushing down - I'd concentrate more on pulling up by using my thigh muscles (need foot straps, and a hill mode while on the bike)...It really burns the thigh muscle group, and I felt it increased my stride strength.

Edited by F.Michael

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Interesting that you shortened your stick to improve your shooting ability and you find your stickhandling took a bit of a hit. I think the opposite is what really should be expected. My guess is that your stickhandling has been hurt because you simply have a different feel now and need to get used to it. The general rule most people live by is that shorter sticks are better for stickhandling, but longer sticks are better for shooting (of course it wouldn't be true for a stick that goes way over your head, but as long as you are able to perform that same motion, you should get more power with a longer stick...simple physics).

I've pretty much used a very short stick for my whole life (comes to my chin before I put on skates) and stickhandling is definitely high on my list of strengths. That said, I've been at the higher end for shooting for most of the teams I've played on, but that doesn't mean I couldn't be shooting harder with a longer stick...I probably would....but honestly never ventured off the standard length that I've used forever.

It's somewhat similar to golfing as well. I've got a friend that is 6'5" and he'd always used the off the shelf clubs that are standard length. He eventually got custom clubs (longer) and he was actually pretty shocked at how much it improved his ball striking.

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I've always liked Bauer skates for how they fit my feet.

Aside from my pants, everything below the waist I like tight and snug. Especially my ankles...lots of tape...

Loose, light, small shoulder pads. I also like to have the palms of my gloves worn through a bit. lol

Unfortunately I have to wear a cage as I lost a bunch of my front teeth years ago and really don't want to go through that again... especially out of my own pockets. Crowns aren't cheap....


Easton S19 stick. Probably a little longer than normal as I'm predominantly a defenceman.

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I wear a cage too, not my first choice, but I've had a broken orbital bone and damn near lost an eye, and that's not something I'll go through again. I do let the cage hang a little loose because I'm constantly talking all game long and don't want the chin cup restricting me. I wear minimalist, mid-80s shoulder pads, I like my gloves loose through the cuff and hand, but tighter in the fingertips for better control, pants tighter around the hips but loose in the legs, skates super-tight fitting and don't wear socks. I used to use a really short stick (2-3" below the collarbone) but as I've gotten older and in poorer shape, I lengthened my sticks by a few inches and moved from 85 to 75 flex. It did take some getting used to, but I feel like I'm adjusted now.

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Interesting that you shortened your stick to improve your shooting ability and you find your stickhandling took a bit of a hit. I think the opposite is what really should be expected. My guess is that your stickhandling has been hurt because you simply have a different feel now and need to get used to it. The general rule most people live by is that shorter sticks are better for stickhandling, but longer sticks are better for shooting (of course it wouldn't be true for a stick that goes way over your head, but as long as you are able to perform that same motion, you should get more power with a longer stick...simple physics).

I've pretty much used a very short stick for my whole life (comes to my chin before I put on skates) and stickhandling is definitely high on my list of strengths. That said, I've been at the higher end for shooting for most of the teams I've played on, but that doesn't mean I couldn't be shooting harder with a longer stick...I probably would....but honestly never ventured off the standard length that I've used forever.

It's somewhat similar to golfing as well. I've got a friend that is 6'5" and he'd always used the off the shelf clubs that are standard length. He eventually got custom clubs (longer) and he was actually pretty shocked at how much it improved his ball striking.

Yeah I held off on the change mostly because the consensus is shorter sticks are better for stick-handling and longer sticks are better for shooting. I can understand the ideas behind those ways of thinking, and I think you're right in that its going to take a while to fully get used to a shorter stick, and perhaps at that point I'll agree. At this point, however, I've designed my whole game around a longer stick and a straighter posture , so I've learned to be an effective stick-handler and deke around guys efficiently while using the entirety of my arm length and a long stick. Right now I need to adapt to having less space to work with when approaching a defender.

I also need to get my clubs customized. Unfortunately I'm not at that point in my game, yet, where I can justify that kind of money :(

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I don't much play anymore myself, but I have CCM and Easton right handed twigs, both laminated wood sticks, no carbon fiber or anything like that.

I played defense in high school and as a recreation player, the butt end of the stick comes about an inch above my eyebrow, i've always preferred the longer stick.

I also have a couple pair of Bauer skates, both are pretty old, one set is slightly less beat up than the other. At the time when I bought everything, it was more what was within my price range and adapting to it opposed to picking out the best equipment to suit me and how I played.

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I've played around with different length sticks and different curves but have come to the conclusion I'm just not good enough for it to make a difference.

I went from playing 3-4 nights a week (2 ice, 2 roller) in the adult leagues in Columbus, OH to playing never (had a baby in January.) Im worried I'm going to be even worse when I resume. I'm 33 and past my prime! Though my knees are better than Cleary's it's all in my hands.

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I've played around with different length sticks and different curves but have come to the conclusion I'm just not good enough for it to make a difference.

I went from playing 3-4 nights a week (2 ice, 2 roller) in the adult leagues in Columbus, OH to playing never (had a baby in January.) Im worried I'm going to be even worse when I resume. I'm 33 and past my prime! Though my knees are better than Cleary's it's all in my hands.

Sounds like you should play goalie!

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I'm just playing pond hockey here and there with friends, my gear is pretty much average. The gloves are probably the top equipment. Had the Reebok 26k they are ok but nothing too fancy. I might splurge this winter and buy new ones if we are going to play more.

Edited by frankgrimes

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You guys mentioned skates a few times and it reminded me of an experience-

I had the same pair of skates for like 13 years. My parents bought them for me when I started high school, and a few years ago was the year that they absolutely needed to be retired. I went into Perani's looking for the closest thing to my skate as possible, but to my horror every boot made these days is all plastic, instead of the fabric that they used to use, and what I had grown so comfortable with. So I'm trying some skates on and don't like how any of them feel, and the sales rep was of no help either, just offering different skates to try on seemingly at random. Finally I leave and decide to go to the shop that my parents bought my original pair of skates at: some mom-and-pop hockey store a few blocks from where I grew up playing. Immediately someone comes up to me and asks if I'm looking for new skates, seeing as how I had my old ones in my hands. I ask him if he has anything like what I already have, and he tells me that they stopped making skates like this for a while, but the closest design to what I'm looking for is a Bauer Vapor (I don't remember the specific skate). He just looks at me and says "you look like you're a size nine, but I'll bring a nine and a size down too, just to make sure. He puts on the football game and goes in back, comes back out with two boxes and sure enough the boot fits wonderfully, and he was right with my size as well (and he had me try the size lower just to be sure). We baked the skates up right there and he chatted with me while we watched the Lions lose, waiting for the boot to cool down and mold to my foot. He tossed in a pair of free skate guards, too. The service was amazing, and ever since that day I went there exclusively for my hockey gear. Unfortunately they closed down recently, so now I'm stuck with Perani's or the Total Hockey that opened up (which doesn't seem much better).

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You guys mentioned skates a few times and it reminded me of an experience-

I had the same pair of skates for like 13 years. My parents bought them for me when I started high school, and a few years ago was the year that they absolutely needed to be retired. I went into Perani's looking for the closest thing to my skate as possible, but to my horror every boot made these days is all plastic, instead of the fabric that they used to use, and what I had grown so comfortable with. So I'm trying some skates on and don't like how any of them feel, and the sales rep was of no help either, just offering different skates to try on seemingly at random. Finally I leave and decide to go to the shop that my parents bought my original pair of skates at: some mom-and-pop hockey store a few blocks from where I grew up playing. Immediately someone comes up to me and asks if I'm looking for new skates, seeing as how I had my old ones in my hands. I ask him if he has anything like what I already have, and he tells me that they stopped making skates like this for a while, but the closest design to what I'm looking for is a Bauer Vapor (I don't remember the specific skate). He just looks at me and says "you look like you're a size nine, but I'll bring a nine and a size down too, just to make sure. He puts on the football game and goes in back, comes back out with two boxes and sure enough the boot fits wonderfully, and he was right with my size as well (and he had me try the size lower just to be sure). We baked the skates up right there and he chatted with me while we watched the Lions lose, waiting for the boot to cool down and mold to my foot. He tossed in a pair of free skate guards, too. The service was amazing, and ever since that day I went there exclusively for my hockey gear. Unfortunately they closed down recently, so now I'm stuck with Perani's or the Total Hockey that opened up (which doesn't seem much better).

Great experience and story I'm in the same boat I prefer smaller but a bit more expensive shops because they offer something all those company-chains will never have - service !

Also you get the satisfication of supporting small privately owned family-shops instead of big corporate trash (such as Wall Mart doubt they even have hockey gear). If I were you, I'd be asking other people maybe they can recommend a better shop somewhere else, drive there if you have time and buy as much as your pocket allows. May not be perfect but still beats buying from incompetent megastores.

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Great experience and story I'm in the same boat I prefer smaller but a bit more expensive shops because they offer something all those company-chains will never have - service !

Also you get the satisfication of supporting small privately owned family-shops instead of big corporate trash (such as Wall Mart doubt they even have hockey gear). If I were you, I'd be asking other people maybe they can recommend a better shop somewhere else, drive there if you have time and buy as much as your pocket allows. May not be perfect but still beats buying from incompetent megastores.

Well I'm in the metro Detroit area so I'm all ears to any recommendations that anyone can provide. I was going to a shop in Royal Oak before it closed. Now I know of Perani's on Van Dyke in Sterling Heights, and Total Hockey on Big Beaver and Rochester rd. in Troy.

(Another story: I was in a small shop just looking around killing time while they sharpened my skates, and just on a whim I told the shop owner I'd buy a new hockey stick if he gave me a discount. Ten minutes later I was walking out with a new composite and $40 bucks still in my pocket. About a year later my friend and I were down river and he was buying a ton of equipment from one of the aforementioned big chain stores (first time playing hockey so he needed everything), bill comes up to like $800. I asked if we could get a discount on a stick because he's spending so much money there and they didn't even entertain the idea. I wasn't necessarily pissed off or anything because it's not like we were entitled to any discounts, but I think that's another perk of the smaller locally owned shops is people are willing to work with you if it means getting the sale done, and you see more local shops rewarding loyalty.)

Edited by Echolalia

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Well I'm in the metro Detroit area so I'm all ears to any recommendations that anyone can provide. I was going to a shop in Royal Oak before it closed. Now I know of Perani's on Van Dyke in Sterling Heights, and Total Hockey on Big Beaver and Rochester rd. in Troy.

(Another story: I was in a small shop just looking around killing time while they sharpened my skates, and just on a whim I told the shop owner I'd buy a new hockey stick if he gave me a discount. Ten minutes later I was walking out with a new composite and $40 bucks still in my pocket. About a year later my friend and I were down river and he was buying a ton of equipment from one of the aforementioned big chain stores (first time playing hockey so he needed everything), bill comes up to like $800. I asked if we could get a discount on a stick because he's spending so much money there and they didn't even entertain the idea. I wasn't necessarily pissed off or anything because it's not like we were entitled to any discounts, but I think that's another perk of the smaller locally owned shops is people are willing to work with you if it means getting the sale done, and you see more local shops rewarding loyalty.)

Are you talking about Metro Sports on 14 Mile?

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I worked at Metro Sports from 03-08. Probably have seen some of you guys around. I was never too picky about equipment except for sticks. If a customer was looking for a nice stick and asked my recommendation I would always try to steer them towards a Bauer one piece with the heel curve/open face (I think it was the P91A - Kovalchuk curve then, they may have changed that now). It's always been my favorite curve and I've personally had better luck with durability in Bauer sticks compared to Easton, Warrior, etc. A lot of people didn't seem to interested in the heel curve/open face though, maybe a little too extreme for what they're used to. I think you see it a lot in the NHL. Zetterberg and Franzen use very similar curves to that, as well as many others throughout the league.

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I bought my skates there, yes, but I bought the hockey stick from some other hockey shop.

I meant to quote your other post... Metro was great. I worked there for a few months before they shut down, my buddy Pete was the manager for its last year and a half. He's always really good about getting the proper fit on skates and not putting you in a skate you don't need.

You're definitely right about mom-and-pop shops taking care of their regular customers. Some of the bigger chains do have loyalty programs, which earn you store credit or offer free sharpenings, but it's still a different feeling. I have worked in both types of stores.

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