Manufacturers bring top-end sticks to childhood favorite
Knee hockey is one of the numerous things that makes hockey what it is. Not many sports have a portable, miniature version that can be played just about anywhere.
Just think back to travel tournaments and the countless hotel hallways you were expelled from when playing knee hockey. Knee hockey just happens to be a portion of hockey culture that makes our sport so incredibly unique.
Not unlike the full size version of the sport, knee hockey has seen a number of advances in recent years. Manufacturers now make miniature nets (not necessarily a new development) which inevitably saves desks, tables, chairs and hallway radiators from the beating that comes along with the game. In addition, the days of dipping your straight-blade plastic stick in boiling water to create a curve are over. Now you can choose a mini stick from a plethora of choices that are near mirror images to the full size sticks made by hockey’s biggest manufacturers.
Warrior, Bauer, CCM, Reebok and Sher-Wood all have created their own composite mini sticks complete with curves and identical design patterns to that of the full size retail sticks you use on the ice. What these sticks do is add a little style and extra performance to a rec-room or travel tournament classic.
Reebok not only has a mini composite version of their new 20K stick, they also introduced a composite goal stick that is patterned after the 11K composite goal stick that is being used throughout the NHL – this follows previous miniature versions of the O-Stick and A.I.9. CCM also produced a mini composite of their premier stick with a mini RBZ. Like the 20K, the mini RBZ also sports the same markings and art that the top model does – although it doesn’t provide some of the technological advances that the full size stick does.
Both CCM and Reebok have their own net models as well which can be set up in your basement or rec room to add even more of an ice element to each knee game.
Bauer actually has a Vapor APX and TotalOne NXG for you to choose from while Sher-Wood’s collection spans the entire NHL. So, for those of you who are nostalgic for the straight plastic, team-branded sticks of the past, perhaps the Sher-Wood team models would provide a nice transition.
While I can’t attest if the composite mini sticks can add performance to your knee hockey game as their full-size cousins do for ice hockey, I can say they bring a cool wrinkle to a game that you should never need an excuse to play.
I, for one, am seriously considering setting up a knee hockey rink as part of my man cave in the very near future.
With some interesting topics being discussed at the GM meeting (coach’s challenge) there have also been a number of no brainer topics floated by the league’s general managers. One in particular, goalie equipment, is something they should seriously consider.
Based on reports, adjusting the size of goaltending equipment appears to be the second most likely topic to move forward beyond cocktail napkins and off-hand conversations. Compared to the debate over grandfathering visors, the rules behind adjusting goalie equipment would be more difficult to fight.
Although there isn’t much room for sweeping change, I think adjustments to what goaltenders can wear could be made. More importantly, these changes can be made without sacrificing the safety of those in net.
After the last lockout, goaltender’s pads were reduced from 12 to 11 inches in length to go along with restrictions to the size of the glove and blocker. Additional restrictions cover internal portions of the pads (knee and calf wings) along with chest protectors. One recent development with chest protectors addressed the build of certain units. The rule states that the chest guard must be anatomically proportional to the goaltender wearing it.
Anatomical restrictions are where I think the league has some room to work when considering new rules to enact.
As it stands now, the league has a rule that stipulates a Limiting Distance Size for each goaltender based on specific measurements that determine the size of goal pads. This requirement ultimately determines the specific height that determines what size pad a goaltender can wear. This basically prevents goaltenders from wearing the largest pad manufactured to maximize blocking area.
While you can’t get much more anatomically correct than that, the rule doesn’t necessarily prevent goaltenders from adding length to the top of their pads. Ironically that is the specific area Kay Whitmore said they could target.
Not all humans are made equal. One 6’1” individual may be top tall and have shorter legs than another person of the same height. Because of this, different goalies wear different sized pads. For example, I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of 6’ and 6’1” and I fit quite well into a 36 inch pad.
Specifically, the pads I wear now are 36+2 – an extra two inches on the standard thigh rise – and they fit quite well. However, that actually makes my pad 38 inches in total. If I tried to wear a traditional 38 inch pad I would swim in it. However, the advent of the thigh rise extension allows my pad to fit me perfectly while still offering the coverage of a longer piece of equipment.
Without getting into the tangled history of goal pad design, the thigh rise extension began picking up steam in the professional and retail world about seven or eight years ago. Adding length to the thigh rise of a pad adds additional five-hole coverage without affecting the overall performance of the goaltender. If the NHL were to limit the size of a goaltender’s thigh rise, I think you would see a number of goalies with significantly different equipment next season.
A couple of goalies who immediately come to mind are Henrik Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury. Both are phenomenal goaltenders who also happen to use a fairly significant thigh rise on their pads. While the rise they use on their respective Bauer and Reebok pads wouldn’t completely disappear, it could be limited by a new rule. This wouldn’t affect how their pads fit in anyway, it would only alter the amount of net the pads cover when each goaltender is in the butterfly.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that either would see their play altered by this change, but if they were reliant on the coverage provided by the thigh rise on their pad, there could be a slight adjustment period.
Luckily this isn’t a change that will be felt by amateurs playing travel or in local adult leagues. Unlike the sweeping change to 11 inch wide pads, there will be little change (if any) to the pads you will be purchasing. Retail models of pads would never be affected by such a rule (even if it is reflected in lower levels) which means that the only difference you will see is from the masked men you watch each night in the NHL.
What needs to be determined is if this will actually result in any sort of change in goals scored. I doubt there will end up being any sort of significant change. There will be a few more pucks that find a way through the five hole, but ultimately you’re still talking about the exact same butterfly goalie getting his pads on the ice.
Ultimately I very much doubt that this change would bring about a change in goal scoring, which would be the prime motivation for enacting such a rule. However, when you talk about providing goalies with even a little less room to stop the puck, some change could come about.
The clean lines and styling of the Easton Mako Ice Hockey Skate are features that have made this one of the most popular skates models in all levels of hockey. Now Easton and Great Skate have teamed up for a contest to award one lucky player a brand new pair of Easton Mako Ice Hockey Skates.
In a world of stiff boots that lack anatomical characteristics and restrict movement, we believe in a new sense of freedom, performance and the Art of Speed by creating a skate that optimizes natural movement.
The push direction Asymmetrical patterns allow the skates to fall in line with direction of travel to generate speed and power through cornering. This not only looks great but keeps the skate performance high.
As mentioned, the fit of these skates gives a full range of motion to the foot, ultimately maximizing the Art of Speed and natural movements. Easton took the time to alter the skate this season in hopes of increasing the range of motion for a player while also maintaining the comfort and protection that has been an hallmark of these skates for sometime.
You can come into Great Skate and try on a pair and feel the difference for yourself.
With the NHL lockout continuing to drone along, many hockey fans have been without an entertainment staple for more than a number of months. While the NHL and NHLPA continue to dance around an agreement on the CBA, there are still a number of outlets where fans can get their hockey fix.
Although your weekly pickup or local league games might not do the trick, there is still plenty of hockey being shown across a number of different television networks. In addition, there is probably a good chance that some form of hockey is played at a high level somewhere near your hometown.
Between leagues like the AHL, ECHL and other minor professional leagues, a number of young NHL stars and up-and-coming prospects have been dispersed across the continent during the current work stoppage. While many NHL cities aren’t as lucky as Toronto – in which the AHL and NHL franchises are located down the street – there are plenty of opportunities to catch the action of your particular team’s farm club.
For those lucky enough to have a minor league team in their city, be sure to catch a game. The atmosphere at the games is always family friendly and the hockey is extremely entertaining.
The Canadian Hockey League – comprised of the QMJHL, OHL and WHL – is the most well known form of major junior hockey and has been regularly televised on the NHL Network. Not only are there plenty of teams to root for (68 in all) but there is a good chance that your favorite NHL team is represented in each league by a number of different prospects. Keeping track of the progress of these young players won’t only give you a window towards their NHL potential, but will certainly add new hockey knowledge to your repertoire.
Other junior leagues worth seeking out include but are not limited to the USHL and NAHL. Both leagues serve as the top two junior leagues in the United States and typically produce NCAA talent on a yearly basis. For those who are prospect nuts, the leagues are also great talent pools to monitor for upcoming NHL draft boards. The USHL had 13 players selected in last year’s draft and the league has quickly become a well-stocked pond for NHL talent.
The NCAA also offers a peek at upcoming NHL talent as the American collegiate body has become a tremendous breeding ground for talent. Although there are few Division I programs in the US, there is an impressive number of schools with varsity programs at the men’s and women’s level between DI and DIII. Since the majority of DI programs reside in the Northeast and Midwest, networks like NBC Sports, MSG, Big Ten and others regularly televise season games that bring the sport directly to you. The NBC Sports broadcasts have even pulled familiar faces from regular NHL broadcasts for this season and offer a high production value while often showcasing the nation’s best teams.
Most cable networks carry the channels that will not only bring NCAA hockey to your television, but various CHL games as well. Depending on how desperate you are to see hockey on your TV, there are readily available options on a weekly basis to view some of hockey’s best talent right from your own home.
Depending on where you live and how adventurous you are, exploring hockey in your own backyard will put your butt in the seat at an arena. Should you have a minor league professional team nearby (AHL, ECHL etc.) or a junior franchise, go check out a game. After all, live hockey is always best.
Should minor professional, junior or NCAA hockey not be an option there still should be some options nearby. Outside of scheduling a road trip with friends to catch a game out of town, there is certainly a good chance that an ACHA club resides in your area.
The ACHA is the governing body for club hockey in the United States and boasts over 400 member schools across five division (three men’s and two women’s) and are represented at some of the nation’s largest schools (Arizona State, Oklahoma, Illinois etc.). While the club level is still battling for respect on a national level, many of the power players are competing for talent right alongside NCAA programs. In fact, Penn State was the most recent school to make the jump from the ACHA to the NCAA. Finding out if your local state school has a club team would provide yet another source to quench your hockey craving.
Now that the holiday season has passed, take some time to fit hockey into your New Year’s resolution and maybe the NHL and PA will take the time to fit a CBA into theirs.