There are many factors to consider when purchasing a hockey stick: the price, its weight, its quality, and its durability. You’ve also got to know your playing habits in order to select a stick that will help you play to your strengths on the ice. You need the stick that best serves the player, whether it be a wrist shot or slapshot pro. Nicolas Taillefer, Sales Consultant in the hockey department, details some hockey stick characteristics and offers his tips on how to choose the one that will last you all season!
The composite stick
Composite sticks are made of carbon fibers, fiberglass, graphite, Kevlar, sometimes mixed with wood. If your budget allows for you to purchase a high-quality stick, you’ll probably pick a carbon fiber stick. This type of stick is lighter, more rigid, and more flexible than a glass one, but it’s also more expensive. Fiberglass is less flexible and more robust, but will make less of a dent in your wallet.
The thing that makes a composite stick have a better performance is its capacity to retake its initial shape after having been flexed under pressure of from a shock. At the same time, they are more fragile than wooden sticks and can break. You’ll probably have to buy more sticks during the season, or, at the very least, get your broken stick repaired.
Wooden sticks are made of several layers of different types of wood, resulting in resistant and durable plywood. Very solid and much heavier, the sticks used by NHL players were traditionally made from wood. Today, these sticks are used for street hockey or to play on exterior rinks.
Although they have a good resistance and durability when it comes to shocks, these sticks do not have a bending point and remain rather stiff, which greatly limits on-ice playing possibilities. That being said, they remain comfortable to manoeuvre and are good to play with year after year.
One-piece and two-piece sticks
Composite sticks are offered in two sub-categories: one-piece and two-piece sticks. One-piece sticks have no separation or joints between the blade and the rest of the stick. This translates into better balance and a lighter stick.
With a two-piece stick, you can replace the shaft or the blade to better adapt it to your game during the season. In addition, it’s more economical for players who have a habit of breaking their sticks. With the two-piece stick, you are not obliged to replace the entire stick. Changing one piece is all you need to do, for about 20-40 dollars.
Depending on your style of play, the length of your stick may vary. A shorter stick offers better handling and better puck protection, whereas a longer stick will help you intercept passes. Normally, offensive players prefer a shorter stick while defensive players prefer a longer one. However, stick length also depends on the player’s strengths and needs.
Another important characteristic for a stick is flex. You may choose a stick with a higher, lower, or centered flex point. It all depends on what you prefer in terms of shots and gameplay. Flex is the weight required for a hockey stick to bend 3 inches and each stick has a different flex point. The calculate the right flex for you, divide your weight in half. Don’t forget that if you get your stick cut to be adjusted to your height, the flex will change. If you choose a stick with a central flex point, it should be exactly where you place your lower hand.
Lie is also an important element to consider when selecting a stick. The angle varies between 43, 45, and 47 degrees. The taller the player, the greater the angle between the top of the blade and ice will be. It’s important to try out the stick in store and see whether or not you are comfortable playing with that particular stick.
Blade curve can give players an upper hand, depending on their position. The higher the curve, the easier it is the lift the puck. Curved blades are, therefore, used often by offensive players, who want to maximize the height of their shot in the net. Once again, depending on the style of play you prefer, you may choose a straighter blade, if it’s more convenient for you.
Several brands also offer advanced lines of sticks with high-performance technology. Here are some examples:
Vapor: Flex at the low-end of the stick.
Supreme: Perfect for slapshots, flex higher than the middle of the stick.
Nexus: Cross between Vapor and Supreme. Flex in the middle of the stick.
Textreme technology: Ultra-light carbon and fibers; easy handling.
eLASTech technology: Strengthening Textreme carbon fiber using micro nanotubes that prevent cracks from forming and expanding. Gives great durability to the stick.
Super Tacks: High-performance sticks with two flex points, one at the bottom of the stick and the other near the handle. This will allow you to take as many slapshots as you wish and effective wrist shots.
Ribcor Trigger ASY: The fibers of this stick are constantly in tension for a quick and efficient power transfer when hitting.
What to buy for a child who is just beginning the season
Stick characteristics for children’s sticks and teenager’s sticks stay the same but the flex may vary. Junior sticks are classified in 4 categories: child (20-30 flex), junior (40-50 flex), intermediate (60-70 flex), and senior (75-105 flex).
You now have all the information you need in order to select the right hockey stick. If you need more specific information about the stick that you are looking to buy, don’t hesitate to ask the sales consultants in store. Every player is unique, and you’ll probably need to adjust from season to season, whether you’re a beginner or advanced player. Test out and vary your sticks if you can, in order to find the best one for your game.
On that note, have a good season!