Odor Gladiator keeps your game (and your hockey bag) fresh

Say hello to my little friend

Hockey players are tough. They can deal with a great many things to enjoy the game they love – pain, hard work, the expense putting together an assortment of equipment & accessories, and even that signature smell that comes from our bag the day (or the week) after your last session on the ice.

Back in my college days, my beer-league buddies had one word that captured the spirit of this olfactory horror – THE STENCH.

Now, most of us players can handle The Stench, but those around us? The spouses, significant others, kids, and animals in our lives aren’t so understanding. That’s where the Odor Gladiator steps in… [Read more…]

“Behind The Moves” book review: A unique look at NHL general managers

Can you name the only general manager in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup with more than one team?

Probably not, and that’s just one example of how GM’s labor in relative obscurity in the National Hockey League.

Players’ and head coaches’ accomplishments are well-known and celebrated, but how much do we really know about the way GM’s work, and what the members of this elite group really say about each other? A fantastic new book, Behind The Moves, gives you a look into the world of the NHL General Manager…
[Read more…]

Super-charge your game with the Easton Stealth RS

How many times have you come back to the bench frustrated after having a golden scoring opportunity fire wide of the goal, or get a prime chance right there in the slot, only to flub the puck meekly into the goalie’s pads?

It’s easy to beat yourself up over those moments, replaying them in your head and thinking about what you might do differently if given a second chance. I know I’ve done it many times myself! While hockey players know that they should put frustration behind them and focus only on the task at hand, it’s just human nature to try and avenge those mistakes. [Read more…]

Bauer Supreme One20 Composite Hockey Stick Review

Click for details at HockeyMonkey!After trying my hand with a couple hockey sticks designed for play makers and puck handlers, I wanted to sample something from the other side of the spectrum, a one-piece composite stick engineered with shooting in mind. So as a followup to using a Bauer Vapor X:20 for a few months, I’ve been playing with a Bauer Supreme One20 recently, sticking with the same brand, and the same of level of product to get the best impression of the differences between these two models. [Read more…]

The Art of Scouting, a Hockey Gear HQ book review

The Art of Scouting by Shane Malloy
Scouting is the NHL’s great “dark art”, a behind-the-scenes endeavor that acts as the lifeline for each team’s hockey operations department. Despite its critical role, however, scouts are generally kept far from the limelight. In most markets, fans would be hard-pressed to name more than one or two members of their favorite team’s scouting staff. Instead, draft evaluations typically are laid at the feet of the general manager, or assistant general manager. [Read more…]

Bauer Vapor hockey stick feature comparisons, from X:15 to X:60

When it comes to picking a new one-piece composite hockey stick, the number of choices out there can be daunting. In order to cut through some of the confusion, I’m launching a series here at Hockey Gear HQ to help break down the various brands of sticks according to their features and price points, to help you make the best decision possible about which twig is most appropriate for you. We’re going to start with the Bauer Vapor series…

Take $10 off your $150 hockey equipment purchase at TotalHockey.com. Coupon code: SAVE10 [Read more…]

Bauer Vapor X:20 Stick’um composite hockey stick review

Making the transition to using one-piece composite hockey sticks can be tricky for longtime players who are used to the reliable “feel” of a traditional wooden twig, and suspicious about whether the new generation of sticks really lives up to all the hype. It was easy for me to fall in love with the Easton Synergy EQ50 when I reviewed it, since it’s a top-of-the-line stick used by the likes of NHL stars like Zdeno Chara and Mike Cammalleri. But I was curious to see how a more affordable “regular Joe” option would fare, so a few months ago I picked up a Bauer Vapor X:20 Stick’um at a local hockey store. [Read more…]

MLX Skates review – a fresh approach to high-performance hockey skates

When the folks at MLX Skates contacted me about reviewing their new custom hockey skates, I wondered just how much of a difference high-end skates could make for a recreational player. After all, as a middle-aged beer leaguer whose best playing days were 15 years and 40 pounds ago, what kind of impact would better wheels provide? The answer? Plenty…

Comfort & Customization

The first thing one notices when looking at these skates is the number of ways in which they can be customized to an individual player’s needs. Just about every aspect of the boot and skate can be maneuvered, then secured to properly match that person’s physique and skating stride. This starts, of course, with the baking process which molds the interior of the boot to your individual foot shape. This isn’t a unique feature to MLX Skates, but it is the foundation of having that “custom feel”. Like any boot, you’ll still need to take it out for a couple sessions of open skating to break it in, but once that was done, I was amazed at how comfortable and responsive these skates felt. Simply put, it was more like wearing a basketball shoe on ice than the typical, clunky feel of a hockey skate. In the video below, company founder David Cruikshank talks about how bringing some characteristics from the speedskating world make the MLX Skate unique:

This is just one of many “how to” videos available on the MLX website which help explain the various features of the skate, and how to best utilize them. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the various bolts need to be monitored periodically, as they can come loose over the course of time. I lost one right before hitting the ice for a game recently, and it became a big problem that night. So just remember, that extra level of customization and comfort does require a bit of maintenance. When shipped, the skates do include extra bolts, nuts & washers, and if for some reason you lose those, you can order replacements easily.

Protection & Performance

One of my favorite features on the MLX Skate is the tendon guard, which is designed to provide maximum protection while still allowing the ankle to flex freely. With most skates, a stiff leather tendon guard leaves the skater two options. First, you can tape it snugly against the back of your leg, which then causes tugging and resistance while you’re trying to skate, or secondly, you can leave it loose and run the risk of suffering a terrible injury if another player’s skate blade sweeps through that area. With the MLX Skate, you can get the protection you need while still enjoying that essential freedom of movement.

That combination of form fitting to each skater’s individual foot, along with the flexible protective elements and incredibly lightweight composite materials, make for a skate which not only responds well to what you’re trying to do out there, but bolsters a skater’s confidence. I’ve noticed while playing defense, for example, that quickly reversing direction and getting into backward strides has been much easier and more natural in these skates than anything I’ve used before. When you have that assurance in your mind as a player, that allows you to actively engage in the action, rather than play hesitantly and worry about not being able to react in time.

At a suggested retail price of $799.99 these certainly aren’t for the entry-level or cash-strapped hockey player. Currently, they are offering them at an introductory price of $599.99, and you can purchase clearance hockey skates with cosmetic defects (but full protection & performance) for $100 less than that. If you’re willing to make a bit of an investment in your game, however, establishing a solid foundation from the ice up with MLX custom hockey skates could make a fine choice.

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Upcoming hockey stick review: the Vapor X:20 Stick’um composite

After enjoying the use of an Easton Synergy EQ50 for a few weeks, it’s on to another one-piece composite hockey stick to review, and this time I’m going to shift brands, and shift gears to a more affordable option, Bauer’s Vapor X:20 Stick’Um. It costs roughly 1/3rd as much as the high-end EQ50 (at HockeyMonkey, the Bauer Vapor X:20 Stick’um S10 Sr. Composite Hockey Stick is $64.99, compared to $209.99 for the Easton Synergy EQ50 Grip Sr. Hockey Stick), but offers a number of features that I hope will provide many of the same benefits.

Save 20% Off this month at HockeyMonkey! Use code MARCH20. From hockey sticks to helmets - Shop hockey gear now!

Will the Vapor X:20 provide that “bang for the buck” that may be more appropriate for the casual, rec-league hockey player? Stay tuned for my review once I’ve had the chance to try it in game action a few times…

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The Best Hockey Stick I’ve Ever Used: The Easton Synergy EQ50 Review

Easton EQ50 Composite Hockey StickComposite one-piece hockey sticks have taken over the professional ranks over the last 20 years, to the point where you can’t find anyone in the NHL using the traditional wood any more. As a long-time recreational player, however, I had long resisted this trend. I’ve tried a number of composites and found them lacking, mostly because they felt weak and brittle, resulting in more distraction than help on the ice. In a game of split-second decisions, you need to have confidence that the tools you’re using will do the job required of them.

My mind has been changed, however, after the good folks at Easton Hockey sent me one of their Synergy EQ50 hockey sticks to try out. Over the course of a couple months, I found that besides the oft-cited improvement in shooting accuracy and power (it’s the stick which Zdeno Chara used to set a new record for Hardest Slapshot at the NHL All-Star Weekend), there was a surprising level of control provided by this stick, the “feel” that you get from a good wooden stick, but… better. Much, much better.

Control’s the word

Part of that has to do with the optional grip coating you can get on the shaft, which for many players can eliminate the need to wrap tape down around where the shooting hand is positioned. Besides that, however, the kevlar wrapping greatly reduces the “rattle” which some sticks produce when receiving a hard pass or engaging in a puck battle. In addition, the combination of firmness and flexibility in the shaft leads to an outstanding ability to both send and receive hard, accurate passes.

This feature jumped out at me on the very first shift in which I used the EQ50. As a left-handed shot, I prefer playing the off-wing, and as I brought the puck down the right side across the blueline into the offensive zone, I had the opportunity to hit a trailer coming down the middle. I was surprised to see just how quickly and accurately that backhand pass turned out, hitting my teammate right in stride and allowing for an immediate shot on net. The weight balance within the stick blade itself makes a significant difference, as you can really feel the puck travel along the blade, encouraging you to follow through with a proper wrist roll.

Of course, Mike Cammelleri thinks the EQ50 offers a fine degree of control, too…

Harder, more accurate shots

Of course when it comes to one-piece composites, most of the conversation heads immediately to the matter of slap shots, and how much harder the new sticks allow players to shoot. Based on personal experience, that certainly seems to be the case. The “sweet spot” on the blade is pretty forgiving, and thanks to a variety of weight plugs you can insert in the butt end, you can adjust the swing and flex dynamics of the stick somewhat depending on personal preference.

The only sad part about this story is that my EQ50 is no more. During a game earlier this week I caught the toe of the blade in a seam along the boards, wedging the stick like a lever between my body weight and the boards, and snapping the blade right off (it was either that or breaking one of my ribs, so I’m OK with that). Having to go back to using my old wooden stick as an emergency backup was a sore step backwards, in just about every way. I can definitely say I’ve been bitten by the composite one-piece bug, and I can’t see ever going back!

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