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