Hockey Sticks

The hockey stick, the most basic piece of equipment, is also the most confounding. While other pieces of gear either fit or don’t fit, the stick defies such a simple categorization. It’s more like buying a pizza. Size is the easy part—options are where things get tricky. Stick technology has come along way from the days when players found a nice piece of hickory and started whittling. Sticks today come in a number of materials that in themselves can be overwhelming. These range from wooden shafts with ABS plastic blades, to traditional wood and fiberglass, to full Kevlar and Carbon Fiber.

Prices can vary by a factor of ten, with a very simple stick costing around $20 and top end exotics surpassing the $200 mark. Today’s stick market has as much variety as the grocery store’s breakfast isle. The three main kinds of sticks are: Wooden Sticks, Two-piece sticks and blades, One-piece composite sticks The Wooden Stick The wooden stick has been around since the inception of hockey. Despite the many improvements in this most basic piece of hockey gear, there are still a few NHL pros using wood sticks. Still the numbers are dwindling from about half the league using wood several years ago, to just a handful now.

Another reason some players still prefer wood might be feel. One thing that technology hasn’t improved is the feel. If you cannot catch a pass, or stickhandle through the defense, there isn’t much point in being able to shoot an extra ten miles per hour. Many Pros are now using a composite shaft with a wood blade as a compromise between the best of both worlds. Beyond the obvious issue of having the plainest stick in the locker room, the negative of a wood stick is simple durability. Even if you are like me and don’t break many sticks, wood will wear out.

Shooting the puck hard requires flexing the shaft and getting a good pop, almost like a bow releasing an arrow. The fibers in wooden sticks break down fairly quickly and the spring that you need in releasing a shot gets weaker. Wooden sticks are the smartest choice for beginning players. The cost of a composite stick balanced against the minimal gain a beginner might get doesn’t make sense. Until beginners learn to shoot, poke check and stick handle and stand up on skates adequately; there isn’t much point in spending big bucks on a composite stick.

Trust me; no one looks any less silly falling down with a $200 stick than they do with a $20 stick. Two-piece Shafts and Blades Two-piece sticks have been around for a while. The blade and shaft, sold separately, are hot-glued together with a heat gun. Originally making its debut in the medium of aluminum, the two-piece shaft is now available in such exotic materials as Carbon Fiber, Graphite and Kevlar. Some lower priced shafts are pure fiberglass making them heavier and more prone to breakage.

Aluminum shafts lasted almost forever and are still a favorite of many players who own one, but they are almost impossible to find. The advantages in a two-piece stick are lighter weight, more consistent performance and longevity. The type of a blade selected can change the weight somewhat, but it will generally weigh less than a wooden stick. This translates into slightly quicker stick handling for the player. One downside to buying a two-piece is the cost. Even an inexpensive shaft and blade will cost twice what a wooden stick goes for.

Realistically, the cheapest shaft on the market will cost about $40 and a low-end blade for it about $25. More likely you will spend over $150 to get a two-piece stick of decent quality. However, since the largest numbers of breakages in sticks occur at the blade, the two-piece is an attractive option after the initial investment. Two-piece shafts and blades are interchangeable between brands. Junior and Senior are the two basic blade sizes. The shafts come in Junior, Senior and Intermediate sizes with intermediate shafts accepting senior blades.

Tapered two-piece sticks are typically the top performing two-piece sticks and priced accordingly. The Modern One Piece Sticks The term one-piece stick used to simply refer to a wooden stick that wasn’t broken. Now it refers to the expensive, featherweight, composite jobs that would make NASA proud. (The price tags are starting to get into the NASA range too). The one-piece stick is the newest of stick options. Easton’s very popular Synergy started the craze and remains among the most popular choices today.

The one-piece is the lightest of the three basic choices available, and widely considered the top performer as well. A one-piece stick will have a very nice, almost weightless feel to it when even the casual player picks it up. The one-piece is made of carbon fiber or Kevlar. One-piece sticks are probably the most hyped up piece of hockey equipment today. Every brand seems to have their own unique design, from holes in the shaft, to a spine on the blade like a two-piece; the one piece is a durable, high performance choice.

The one-piece will give most players many months of quality play. There is little argument that a good player will notice a more powerful shot with a one-piece stick. So perhaps the biggest downside to the one-piece stick is their position as the most expensive option. The price of a one-piece is generally comparable to that of a two-piece initially but does top out much higher. Not only is the initial investment sometimes higher, but in order to keep that same high level of performance, players will need to buy a new stick every time they break one.

As you can see there are a variety of sticks to choose from and not every person will like the same stick. Even with all this information I just gave to you, it still might be hard for you to choose one that you will like. It’s not something your friend can help you pick out because it’s more of your opinion and how it feels in your hands. Hockey is a sport where the gear and theme of the game are both independent, the help of others is useful but at the end of the day, it’s on your shoulders; it’s your choice that makes the final decision.

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