What they’re wearing – Ilya Kovachuk

What they’re wearing – Ilya Kovachuk

What they’re wearing – Ilya Kovachuk

Of all the happenings around the NHL this summer, nothing has been more shocking that Ilya Kovalchuck’s decision to retire from the NHL and return to play for SKA in the KHL. As he departs for Russia, we’ll take a look at the gear he sported in the NHL.

Unlike our first target, Mikhail Grigorenko, Kovalchuk is a very loyal Warrior client who hasn’t been seen in anything but their gear for a number of seasons. Since Kovalchuk doesn’t bounce around with the equipment he uses, tracking his set up was much easier. Here’s what he wore during the shortened 2013 season:

Skates: Bauer Vapor APX

Since Warrior has not jumped into the skate market just yet, Kovalchuk sports Bauer’s APX line for his skates. A popular, lightweight skate, the APX is used by countless professionals and is equally popular in youth and adult rec leagues across North America. No surprise to see a skill player like Kovalchuk in a skate that promotes agility and speed.

Gloves: Warrior Luxe

The Luxe line bridged the gap, in a way, between the Franchise and this year’s Covert line. While Kovalchuk didn’t get into a Covert full-time, the Luxe shares many of the same qualities. A more tapered, anatomically fit glove compared to the traditional four-roll fit of the Franchise, the Luxe provides a little more snug fit which is beneficial for players who like their gloves to respond in unison with their hands. While the Covert has taken up the Luxe’s mantle, you can find the same tapered comfort in Warrior’s new line.

Helmet: Bauer 4500 with Bauer visor

The one Warrior product Kovalchuk doesn’t use is the Krown 360 helmet. He opts for the traditional, low-profile 4500 model which is still prevalent in many areas. The 4500 uses a traditional foam liner as opposed to some of the high-end EPP foams with special inserts seen in such helmets as the Bauer RE-AKT or the Krown. Kovalchuk’s visor appears to be the Bauer J-cut which is very similar to the wave or aviator cut visors on the market but with an additional cut on the side of the visor. It’s a tough visor to find but the Bauer or Oakley aviator cut visors provide the same appearance.

Stick: Warrior Covert DT1 (red graphics)

A truer form of the word sniper may not be known when you consider the type of player Kovalchuk is. He certainly serves as an excellent poster boy for Warrior to show off the benefits of their Covert stick line. Kovalchuk uses a big right handed curve and sports a unique red based graphics package on his DT1.

Beat the dog days with the Great Skate Summer Sale

Great Skate 30th Annual Summer Sale

Great Skate 30th Annual Summer Sale August 1st – 10th, 2013

As the summer days roll along and the temperatures continue to rise, there’s one event on the horizon that will have you thinking of cold, wintry weather in no time.

The 30th annual Great Skate Summer Sale is kicking off on August 1 and will continue through to August 10. The sale is available online, at greatskate.com and at our Buffalo, NY store. In addition to phenomenal deals on this year’s best equipment, you will have the opportunity to demo hockey’s newest releases and take part in a number of exciting giveaways and promotions.

Bauer, CCM, Easton, Reebok and Warrior will each be participating in demo days between August 5 and 9 that will feature each manufacturer’s newest sticks and equipment. Players will have the opportunity to demo the newest sticks which will be hitting the market along with trying on each company’s newest gear between 10am and 6pm each day that the demos take place.

Along with providing a unique demo of their newest equipment and sticks, Easton will also be providing an opportunity for a team to win a full set (18) of Easton composite sticks for the season. All you need to do is provide your full team roster to enter the drawing for the team set.

Bauer is getting in on the fun as well, offering a week’s worth of prizes that run from Monday through Friday and include a Ryan Keseler James VanRiemsdyk and Patrick Kane sticks, a new pair of Vapor APX skates and Friday’s grand prize of Bauer sticks for a year.

The Summer Sale will also feature one of the newest Buffalo Sabres as Buffalo’s own Justin Bailey will be on hand from 5pm to 6pm on August 1. You will have a chance to test your shot against Bailey and see how you stack up against an NHL draft pick.

Bailey won’t be the only competition Summer Sale guests will have for shooting. Warrior is sponsoring the Warrior Hockey Chara Challenge which will be a fastest shot competition with giveaways that include Warrior merchandise and a Dynasty AX1 stick.

In addition to the Chara Challenge, Warrior will be providing one lucky winner with two tickets to the 2014 Winter Classic at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan with $200 spending money and one night’s hotel accommodations for the game.

Be sure not to miss your opportunity to take home any one of the terrific prizes that will be up for grabs while also taking advantage of all the phenomenal deals that will provide up to 80% savings on select items.

The 30th annual Great Skate Summer Sale kicks off on August 1, be sure you don’t to miss a minute.

What they’re wearing: Mikhail Grigorenko

What they’re wearing: Mikhail Grigorenko

What they’re wearing: Mikhail Grigorenko

What they’re wearing will be a new feature for the Great Skate Blog which will focus in on the gear being worn by players from around the NHL. These posts will focus on both skaters and goaltenders so both groups of players are well represented. Hopefully this series not only gives you a better idea of what your favorite players are wearing, but clue you in to which gear you may be looking to pick up the next time you’re at Great Skate.

My first target for WTW is Mikhail Grigorenko, the top prospect in the Sabres system. He was up and down with the big blub this year but managed to wear quite a bit of gear during his time. This breakdown is based on his final game of the year against the Islanders, but I will reference a few other games too.

Skates: Bauer Supreme TotalOne

One of the few pieces of gear he didn’t change at any point during his time with the Sabres. A solid skate with a tough, rigid construction, the TotalOne is immensely popular at the NHL level and there are a number of models in the Supreme line available at Great Skate.

Gloves: Bauer 4-Roll

Grigorenko was quite loyal to the Bauer Supreme TotalOne glove for most of the season but was sporting the 4-Roll for the season finale on April 26 (see entry image). Both gloves are great choices. The 4-roll is a classic fit that is more or less the go-to for most professionals. It is a clean, traditional look with a clean, traditional fit. The Supreme is design for maximum ergonomic feel and responsiveness and moves beautifully with your hand when playing. For a gifted playmaker like Grigorenko, the TotalOne makes a whole lot of sense. Of course, you can never go wrong with the 4-roll.

Helmet: CCM Vector 08 with Oakley Pro Straight visor

Grigroenko sports the wildly popular CCM Vector shell with a Oakley Pro Straight visor. The Pro Straight is used by just about every NHLer who wears a visor and provides excellent clarity to the wearer. Grigorenko uses the 08 Vector with a more traditional foam liner rather than the EPP foam with the heat molded pad liner that is found on the Vector 10 model. Either way, it is a good looking helmet and one that I’ve been seriously contemplating for a purchase for some time.

Stick: Warrior Covert DT1 (white)

This is the reason I wanted to choose Grigorenko for this first installment. He has used a number of sticks throughout the season. While I can’t be sure, he may have been trying out an RBZ at one point as well. However, there is proof of him using the Covert throughout the year and in the final game. What is very interesting is that he’s switched sticks in the middle of games at times. Against the Rangers he went from the Covert to an APX and it wasn’t the first time I picked up on it. He also used a TotalOne early in the year.

While I’m fascinated by his choice to just rotate sticks whenever he wanted (he is a pro after all) I think the all-white Covert looks awesome. The Dagger Taper on the Covert is an awesome feature and I’m a sucker for all-white sticks. Great choice if you ask me.

Feel free to leave your recommendation for the next edition of WTW in the comments.

Bauer Supreme line offers anatomic perfection

Bauer Supreme TotalONE NXG Sr. Shoulder Pads

Bauer Supreme TotalONE NXG Sr. Shoulder Pads

Bauer’s collection of gear for 2013 introduced a plethora of new technology and features that was introduced across three different families of equipment. The Nexus line came aboard with the well-established Vapor and Supreme lines.

Bauer has always been a personal favorite of mine, particularly when it came to protective equipment. I haven’t upgraded my protective gear in a while, but there hasn’t been much need to do so. I’ve been very pleased with my shoulder pads and pants which are both from the Supreme line.

The new Supreme NXG line leads Bauer’s collection of gear designed to provided maximum coverage with a full anatomic fit. Bauer’s basic approach for their most recent collection was to provide a full anatomic line (Supreme), tapered or gradually anatomic collection (Vapor) and a line with a more traditional fit (Nexus).

With the Supreme NXG line, Bauer has built their deepest line (four models to choose from) with many of the design features that stand out to me when I’m shopping for new equipment. For me, protective equipment like shoulder pads and shin guards are more comfortable when they provide a slim, snug fit. This attracts me to anatomically designed gear that moves in unison with your body.

The Supreme shoulder pads come complete with a soft-shell shoulder cap (as is the mandate in the NHL) constructed with Bauer’s Vent Armor Foam. This is a design feature that actually softens impacts by 25% when compared to the former TotalOne model.

Vent Armor Foam is actually prevalent throughout the Supreme line – it is used on the One.8 line as well – and is a feature developed to keep a player cool while adding a firm layer of padding in vital locations. Bauer has also made sure to place Poron XRD padding in vital areas on each piece of equipment in the line.

The Poron XRD is the revolutionary padding that has made the RE-AKT helmet such a revolutionary model. While the Poron XRD padding can only be found on the NXG models, it adds high-impact protection and energy absorption in vital areas like the elbow, knee and sternum.

Looking at the entire line it is clear that the key design features weren’t left off any of the models – including the One.8, One.6  and One.4. The elbow pads and shin guards aren’t as revolutionary to me as the shoulder pads appear to be.

While the shin pads anatomical design offer a terrific mix of protection and comfort, the change isn’t as significant as in the shoulder pad unit. With fully adjustable bicep guards (which can be a pain if they don’t fit properly) and integrated Vent Armor padding in a number of areas, the Supreme NXG shoulder pad is truly the elite piece of gear in this line.

Even going beyond the NXG collection, the “price point” models are also brimming with new technology. The main absentees in the rest of the line is the Poron XRD and Vent Armor Foam. Outside of those main two, the rest of the .8 gear and beyond is right on par with the anatomical protection built for the NXG pads.

As someone who is in the line for a new pair of shin guards and potentially some elbow pads, I think the NXG line may be my first stop when I go into Great Skate this summer.

Easton Mako protective line reinforces Easton as a trendsetter

Easton Mako Shoulder Pads

Easton Mako Shoulder Pad

Easton Mako protective line reinforces Easton as a trendsetter

Easton entered 2013 fresh off a year in which the Stealth RS and Mako sticks made a big splash on the hockey world.

In terms of aesthetics alone, the Mako and Stealth’s clean look were monster hits with hockey players everywhere. The weight and performance of each stick brought them to the top of the heap when comparing the products that hit the market in 2012.

Easton’s prowess in stick making is well documented, going all the way back to the Synergy. In addition previous skate and glove lines have maintained impressive staying power in the hockey world. This year, the foremost leader in stick technology has taken a new and aggressive approach with their protetive equipment.

Brand new lines that bear the Stealth and Mako names are to be released and they both bring a new wrinkle to what options players have to wear underneath their uniform.

Both the Stealth and Mako lines feature a design rooted in maintaining a full range of motion for the wearer. The shoulder pads in particular focus on this with Easton’s Segmented FRM. However, that is where most of the comparisons will end.

While the elbow pads and pants for both lines share nearly identical traits, the shoulder pads and shin guards differ in many ways. The true variance is with the Mako line which has brought forth a number of new features and benefits as the Stealth protective gear is far more traditional in terms of features and design.

The new Mako shoulder pads is designed to provide an equally protective pad while utilizing lightweight and free moving design. This is accomplished with the new Conic Body Fit design feature which uses an asymmetric, cross-body closure and corresponding straps that adjust the entire unit.

The Conic Body Fit allows for almost an unobstructed range of motion for the player with a design that hinges around your back as opposed to over your shoulders. In addition to hinging in the back, the unit is built more like a shirt and less like a shawl (for lack of a better term). These two features minimizes the typical restrictions in twisting and rotating that a traditional shoulder pad – one that drapes you’re your shoulders – would have.

By providing a shoulder pad that fits and reacts in unison with your body, Easton is improving upon a method of maximizing protection (which this unit does) without limiting mobility.

The same type of features are found in the new Mako shin pad. Easton spent a great deal of time redeveloping the knee system in the pad in order to focus the center of gravity on that location while improving on the anatomical support.

In the same way that the Conic Body Fit system is designed to react to your upper body’s natural movement, the new anatomic knee on the shin guard is designed to move in unison with the natural bend of your knee.

Easton’s three-piece design incorporates a stiff, thick primary shin guard that covers an injected calf wrap which provides flexible wrap-around protection for the wearer.

What is particularly impressive about the Mako line is that a majority of the design features can be found with every model. This is not a protective line that leaves out features as you hit certain price points. While weight and performance will be limited when comparing the M3 to the Mako, the Conic Body Fit and other features aren’t ignored.

This – along with the Stealth – is an impressive line that shouldn’t be ignored the next time you’re at Great Skate shopping for protective equipment.

Show your style off the ice

Over the past few years equipment manufacturers have begun to introduce a growing line of performance and casual apparel for hockey players and fans to sport whether they’re at or away from the rink.

This growing line of apparel has allowed hockey players to wear a banner, so to speak, that identifies them as the unique and talented athletes that they are. Companies like Gongshow Gear and Sauce Hockey have carved a niche in the lifestyle side of things whereas equipment companies like Bauer, CCM, Easton and Reebok have their own unique line of apparel for fans and players to choose from.

This apparel covers the gamut of style and performance categories as each company has their own base layer collections to be worn during games and practice along with casual wear for after the game or away from the rink.

Each manufacturer has their own approach for these lines that provides players the choice to go with a more traditional look or maybe something a little more modern.

Bauer’s bread and butter comes with their vintage collection that highlights a number of interesting throwback designs. Where they really hit a homerun, however is with their headwear. Bauer has partnered with New Era as their headwear manufacturer and it has yielded a large collection of different hats that eclipses all other manufacturers. My personal favorite is the 39Thirty mesh back cap with the simple Bauer script on the front. It is a perfect hat for everyday and locker room use and comes in a number of different colors (eight to be exact). There are well over a dozen cap styles from New Era and Bauer to choose from.

Warrior has a slightly different approach than the other companies. Their apparel line is a bit closer to the graphic tee look that has become quite popular. They also offer other items such as shorts which isn’t something you can find with many other companies.

Reebok’s line is far less creative than that of Bauer or ever Warrior, but there are still some solid choices for the locker room based on the hats they make. In addition, their shower sandals have been mainstays in many locker rooms for quite some time. The same can be said about CCM’s new line of headwear. While the company doesn’t offer much along the lines of shirts, they have plenty of hats to choose from.

Gongshow, which is a new addition at Great Skate, has a wide variety of unique lifestyle hats, t-shirts and sweats. Gongshow’s apparel does target a specific style when compared to some of the other apparel options out there. However, there is nothing that will say “I’m a hockey player” the way that a Gongshow hat or shirt will. The Gongshow Benchwarmer is a great looking hat that is perfect for the backyard rink or on the way to a game. One cool new product from Gongshow are team designed slippers. They’re made out of hockey sock material and match your favorite team’s sock pattern as well. These are incredibly unique and are equally comfortable.

Great Skate carries each manufacturers collection of off-ice apparel and the wide variety can be found at our store or online. Keep that in mind the next time you’re looking for a hat or shirt to show off your hockey pride.

Bauer glove line offers a mixed bag

Bauer 4-Roll Pro Junior Hockey Gloves

Bauer 4-Roll Pro Junior Hockey Gloves

As different technology becomes prevalent across the board in the sport of hockey, the way companies institute said technology will change as well. Lightweight foams and design changes brought about a evolution in goaltending equipment in the early 2000s and now a similar trend is occurring in glove design.

Bauer’s new line of gloves sticks to the traditional design that many players have grown accustomed to along with a new, anatomically designed pattern that could be considered more futuristic.

The Four-Roll Pro gloves are wildly popular at many levels of the game, particularly at the NHL, NCAA and major junior levels. A cursory glance around the ice at the 2013 World Junior Championships would show a number of US and Canadian players sporting the popular style.

The Four-Roll is a very basic design that utilizes lightweight EPP foam and a lightweight and durable outer design. The overall fit of the glove is relatively loose and allows for movement of a player’s hand and wrist for maximum comfort and dexterity. This is very much a traditionalist take on how a hockey glove should look and fit. By extension, the basic design has earned Bauer legions of fans around the world.

Bauer Supreme One40 Junior Hockey Gloves

Bauer Supreme One40 Junior Hockey Gloves

Bauer, however also offers a couple of other glove designs that are far closer to the cutting edge of design and technology. The Supreme TotalOne and Vapor APX gloves are designed with a contoured, anatomic fit as compared to the loose fitting Four-Roll design. This design is slightly more similar to that of a lacrosse glove than a traditional hockey glove, but it is also the type of design that many manufacturers are moving towards.

Since every player is different, the anatomic fit isn’t always preferred. Of course the same can be said of the traditional fit too. While all three models come with high-density, lightweight foams and Bauer’s signature Thermo-Max liner, the DNA of the gloves – so to speak – is the same. It is in the fit and feel where the differences lie.

The Vapor APX, Bauer’s newest creation, has a three-piece finger and thumb construction that is the same as the knuckles in each of your fingers. The three-piece thumb is a new innovation that is designed to add more flexibility to your thumb while maintaining maximum protection.

The APX line does fit a bit looser than the TotalOne design and has what Bauer buds as a “taper fit” as opposed to the TotalOne’s true anatomic fit. The APX glove will still be significantly more snug than a Four-Roll glove, but will offer more movement than in the TotalOne build. The true difference comes around the wrist area where the TotalOne is designed to fit around and to move in unison with the player’s wrist, whereas the APX provides more space.

Bauer’s Free Flex Cuff is where this is prevalent as the section around the hand remains snug while the new cuff design provides ample flexibility and space for wrist movement. This cuff is also angled in a way to align with the natural shape of the human hand and wrist.

Bauer Vapor APX Hockey Gloves

Bauer Vapor APX Hockey Gloves

One drawback that some players may find with the APX line is the TECHNI-FLEX palm. This is actually a rather innovative addition by Bauer but it does add thickness to the palm in some areas. Ultimately this will increase the life of the palms of your gloves while continuing to maintain the type of performance that could be expected from, say a nash palm.

In addition to the pro models of each of these gloves, Great Skate carries the Vapor APX 7, 5 and 3 models which come in at a lower price point but are devoid of certain features. Each still sports the tapered anatomic design and Thermo-Max liner. However, each model uses a mix of nylon and leather build and do not have the three-piece fingers or thumbs.

These three models are terrific purchases that highlight all of the pros and cons of the Bauer glove line for the season. Of course, only the APX, TotalOne and Four-Roll pro lines will bring the full effect of Bauer’s most recent research and development.

Shop our full line of senior Bauer hockey gloves.