Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bauer Acquires Mission Hockey

Well I went to Mission Hockey's website today and saw that Bauer acquired Mission Hockey. I have been out of the loop regarding hockey companies and their business decisions as of late, so I don't know how new or old this is. I do have to say, it is not what I hoped for. I realize the economy is tough and the sport of hockey hasn't been very popular as of late, but having one company buy up all the other companies leaves little variation. Mission Hockey was a great company and they were very innovative. Mission was a standout in my opinion.

Bauer has always been solid as well. I love their inline hockey skates. They are superb in this hockey player's opinion. But our choices are dwindling. Bauer bought Cooper Hockey in the 90's. Then, also in the 90's, Nike decided to buy Bauer. Now Bauer, has acquired Mission. That's 4 seperate hockey companies that are now rolled under one roof. So your choice between 4 different companies and their products just got narrowed down to one. I understand that they buy the patents for each company's hockey equipment, but so what? What's to stop them from just slapping on Mission's name to a lackluster product in order to save money? Nothing. I'm not saying Bauer will to do that, but the potential for it to happen will always be there.

Bauer is a reputable company, maybe this will pave the way for brand new hockey equipment. Maybe the best hockey gear ever will come out of this. I just like diversity. I like picking out which company to get my hockey gear from. I like the competition that each company had with one another, because it would push them to develop better and better products. Weather it was Bauer equipment, Mission equipment, CCM equipment or Reebok hockey gear, part of the fun was having a choice. That fun is quickly being phased out. Hopefully there will be some very innovative up and coming hockey equipment companies that will survive this economy and will thrive to become leaders in the next generation of hockey gear. Until then we can look forward to Bauer acquiring Mission Hockey and what it has to offer.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Easton Synergy Hockey Stick

I'm an old school inline hockey player. Lately I've been looking at the Easton Synergy hockey stick. If you are into hockey at all right now, you'll probably have seen this type of stick in stores or at the various online hockey shops. I mentioned I was old school. I'll explain what I mean by that with a question. What is the obsession with the one piece hockey stick? I don't play hockey as much as I used to. In fact, i'm virtually inactive at the moment, but every now and then I check the equipment out and I see some fads come and go. To me this looks like a fad.

One Piece Hockey Stick Fad

I'm not trying to insult any hockey players out there that prefer a one piece stick, but are you serious? You'd rather pay $79.99 - $199.99 for a super light stick? I must be missing something here. Maybe the blades on these sticks don't wear down as fast or even at all. Do they come with a warrantee? What happens if the blade breaks off? Are you just going to go out and spend $199.99 again? You could be out 400 bucks in a short amount of time. This all for a stick! I remember when skates used to be the most expensive thing in inline hockey. Not anymore it seems.

Now I know the whole replacement blade with glue may seem like caveman stuff. I always used Koho blades because they were cheap and the corner hockey store had plenty in stock, but I'd rather just have to walk down to the store and buy a new blade then go out and purchase an expensive stick every time something bad happens. The only downside I see to the replacement blades is that the glue on them sometimes doesn't hold well enough or there isn't enough on the blade. I had a problem with this a few years ago with a newly bought Koho blade that I put on my Easton E-flex. The blade didn't have enough glue on it so after a half an hour of playing it would just slide right out.

So seriously are the Synergy and Z-Bubble sticks of the world really that great? Are they worth the hefty price tag? In my eyes they aren't. I just hope these types of sticks aren't here to phase out the whole replacement blade era. Who knows, maybe i'll buy an Easton Synergy hockey stick on sale or discount to see what all the hype is about.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Best Hockey Wheels

As I'm writing this write now, I have a list of what I deem to be the best hockey wheels I personally have used. Now, before you ask yourself, "What wheels are the best for my hockey skates?", you need to know what kind of player are you. Your first response will probably be that your an inline or roller hockey player. Well, of course you are, but are you fast or slow, what position do you play? Those are the real important questions you need to ask a hockey player if you want to know what type of hockey wheels to get.

Inline Skate Wheels

Wheels for your inline skates are very important and they come in different types and sizes. Lets start with the ratings. Inline skate wheel ratings are numbers with letters that determine the hardness or the softness of the wheel.

74A - softest wheel (Indoor ideal - used for grip and control)

76A - soft wheel (Indoor ideal - used for gripping with a little more speed)

78A - medium hardness wheel (Indoor ideal/Outdoor ideal - used for more speed with a little bit of grip)

80A - Hardest wheel (Outdoor ideal - Fastest speed with the lowest form of grip)

Now, when i was younger, the consensus was that you would put 2 80A wheels in the middle and 2 softer wheels on the outside(front and back wheel). Here are my recommendations for fast hockey players:

Outdoor players - 2 80A's in the middle & 2 78A's for the front and back wheel
Indoor Players - 2 80A's in the middle & 2 76A's for the front and back wheel

To those that are interested, I used to use different wheels all the time. Hyper wheels, Labeda wheels, Kryptonics wheels and Kuzak wheels were the best hockey wheels for me.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Old Hockey Equipment That Is Used

Alot of people are probably reading this and saying used hockey equipment? Why would I want dirty rank old hockey equipment used by another player? The answer is, because its cheap. I had a friend who used to buy some used equipment. I currently only know of one store that actually does this. Its' called Play It Again Sports.

Play It Again Sports

It's basically a normal retail sports store. I used to buy my hockey equipment there, they had some good deals and usually the newest brand of hockey gear that I wanted. I bought my CCM Tacks 975 there awhile back. In getting back to the idea of used hockey gear, think of it this way, you can buy a used hockey shaft that would be worth a whole bunch of money and just replace the blade on it. You can buy an old skate and repair the wheels and bearings. Hell, just get new laces and protecto, take off the wheels, buy new ones and throw some swiss bearings in them. You will be good to go and a faster hockey player in no time at a discount price.

I know, I know, you don't want equipment that stinks. It skeeves you out that you have to wear something that was worn by another hockey player. Imagine how much the goalies sweat in there equipment and it'll make you shutter. Play It Again Sports actually had a pretty nifty solution to this problem. How do we get the stink out of hockey equipment? Their answer was to throw it in a hot steam room and steam all the sweat out. Thats about as good as you'll get to having used equipment seem like new again. I mean, you can always go the hard route and try and replace the padding in a used helmet, but I would rather steam it out.

Play It Again Sports is a very good store. I bought alot of my hockey stuff there, but its very important to note that they have all kinds of sport equipment, not just hockey. So this can be applied to other types of gear as well. Weather its used hockey equipment you want, or some new stuff, this place is pretty good to shop at.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hockey Equipment - How To Protect Hockey Gear

Ok, this post will be a short one focusing on protecting your hockey equipment. Hockey gear is the number one thing you need in order to play hockey right? Well you can't play hockey or at the very least, play it well, if your gear is damaged and not taken care of. So, you have to know how to protect hockey gear from common elements.

If you are playing outdoor hockey or street hockey, make sure you take off your wheels and clean the bearings. Your bearings will get all kinds of crap stuck to them when playing outside. This stuff stuck to the bearings will cause your wheels to rotate slower, which in turn will decrease your overall skating speed and control.

Never play hockey in the rain, this will ruin all of your equipment and gear. Plus, playing in the rain is difficult to skate it. The rink may get puddles and you will be slipping and sliding all over the place. It makes skating frustrating. Wait until it dries up before playing.

Another thing people do to protect their hockey sticks, is that they put tape around the blade. Ice hockey players do this, street hockey players should not. The reason is, the tape causes friction when rubbing against the ground and your stick will literally stick to the cement or court surface and drag. This is awful for stick handling. The tape on the blade will eventually rip anyways.

Well that was some short, but good advice on how to protect hockey gear. Remember, it is important to take good care of your hockey equipment.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Local Hockey Equipment Stores

Ok, so you may have read my post about online hockey stores. Well now I'm going to talk about local hockey equipment stores. What's so great about local hockey stores as opposed to online ones? For starters you can just drive and check out what is there. They usually have good equipment, but they also may have old equipment as well. They tend to not order more stock until they start to get out of stock. They could have like 530 items, but their hockey equipment may be outdated.

Every now and then you will run into overstocked sports items in your local store and will be able to get a good discount price on the equipment. They may not have alot of these discounted goods though, you will be lucky to find like 1 or 2 of them there. You also are, in most cases, allowed to try on the whatever type of equipment you are getting. So if you wish to buy a new pair of hockey skates, you can try them on and see how it fits at your local store. Trust me, I detailed a problem about ordering from an online hockey store before, fitting problems will eventually occur.

Some times you will get lucky when it comes to your local store. I've seen 14 online hockey stores that actually have local shops somewhere across the country. That number is small compared to the actual number of local hockey stores that operate online. I'm guessing there are anywhere from 60-178 stores in the United States that do this, possibly more. Don't take my word for it, I'm no expert, I'm just a hockey player. Get out and do the research on your local hockey equipment stores yourself.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hockey Goals or Hockey Nets

It is very important that when you play inline or street roller hockey that your two teams have Hockey Goals or Hockey Nets. You can call it either or, but for the sake of this article I'll refer to it as a hockey net. When I was growing up, not everyone had a net. It was usually the goalies who had nets, because they needed those in order to practice. Every once in a while, we would only be able to get one net and one goalie. This changes the game up considerably.

Playing with a half line in a hockey game is basically setting a point where if a player from the opposing team crosses the line, they now get to shoot on the one goalie. The other team also has to wait for them to cross the line before they can try to take it and recross the half line to shoot on goal. It changes up strategy and slows the hockey game down a bit, but its a way to keep playing if you only have one goalie.

When playing with friends, if we could get two hockey nets, those nets were almost always of the Mylec brand. This is one area of hockey where I would actually recommend a Mylec brand. They make good nets that last a long time. When I first started out, I had a net that didn't have a crossbar across the back top of the net. I would advise getting a net with a cross bar in the back, because the net will be bigger and more closer to regulation one although not quite as big. These nets usually come in the colors white and red. When playing with a puck, hard slapshots can sometimes rip through the weak netting that comes with it, so be forewarned.

After playing with friends for awhile, I started playing in indoor leagues. The one thing I noticed is that every indoor league I signed up for, they had a sport court with big metal regulation sized hockey nets. This is most likely has to do with them being able to afford them thanks to the steep sign up fees. The best part though, is that if you trained on the smaller Mylec hockey nets, these nets should be easier for you to score on. The difference in size is a big one as they allow more room on the sides to score. I hope this information on Hockey Nets has been helpful.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hockey Shin Pads

Ok the title reads Hockey Gear Info On Shin Pads. So, if you can put two and two together, you know what this post will be about. When I started playing hockey, I played on foot for like 2 or 3 games. Now, this obvioulsy won't cut it playing against people on skates. The reason being is that they can be in constant motion without exerting any energy. While if you are on foot, if you don't move, you don't move at all. Naturally if you get skates, you will notice that on occasion, you will fall down.

Update: Yeah, I changed this title too. It looked too long.

Falling down on your knees and shins can be painful. Not to mention that inline hockey is an agressive game involving guys with sticks. So getting hit in the shins with a hockey stick can be even more painful and more dangerous. I learned this early, so naturally, I went out and got shin pads.

As I sit here typing this, I'm trying to remember my first pair of shin pads. I think it was Franklin. I know I had Franklin elbow pads early on and I'm pretty sure I used their shin pads as well. Franklin is an ok brand, not the best for equipment. It is usually cheaply priced for those just starting out in street hockey.

Needless to say, I outgrew those shin pads fast and needed a new pair. I went with Jofa. Jofa's set of shin pads came with elbow pads as well. That is pretty much the reason why I bought them. These pads lasted a long time. I would say around 4-5 years probably. If I had to classify their equipment, I would say it was the second best pair of shin pads I owned.

The Jofa's eventually ripped in two, seperating the knee cup and the shin protector. Any time I bent my knee, it was exposed. This isn't good, because you feel like you are well protected in the knee area, but you are not. Not long after the pads were damaged, I received a pair of Mission shin guards. These were the best and I still have these shin guards today. They were snug and used velcro straps. Not much to say about them other then they work.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Online Hockey Stores

So, you want to check out an online hockey store. I know what you are thinking. You are tired of going down to your local sports shop and having to wait for the product you want to come in stock. Either they don't have the brand or item you want, or they don't have it in your size. These reasons are what drive most players to shop at online stores.

The ease of use and finding your equipment is the deciding factor. You just push a button, search for your hockey gear and the pictures of choices come up. Usually, you will find some good deals too. Thanks to online stores, you can now search for special store coupon codes to enter in at checkout. All this is great, but as you would suspect, there are things you want to take in consideration when purchasing from an online sports store.

First, are you getting a good deal? You should thoroughly search the internet for all the best prices. Use Google to compare prices of other stores. You can get equipment on the internet for cheap, but you can also be way, way overpriced too. Remember, just because one online store says this is the sale price doesn't mean that is the sale price everywhere. Hockey skates are a good example of this. Some places they will be real high, others might be close to $100 cheaper.

Have you found your good deal? Great. There are two more things you need to really check before you order. These are two mistakes that I made when first purchasing hockey pants. Make sure you order the correct size. One of the main downsides of online stores, is that you cannot try on the equipment to see if it will fit. The other mistake I made was that I didn't know where the shop I ordered from was located. This can be a big deal if you need your gear by a certain date.

I ordered hockey pants from a store that was all the way on the other coast. Naturally, they took 6 to 7 weeks to arrive. When they finally did, they turned out to be too big. I then had to send them back which took another 6 weeks, and they didn't have the color in the other size. So I had to get a different color and wait another 6 weeks. You can see how time consuming an order can be when you do not go over little details. Hopefully I've shed some light on buying your hockey equipment from an online store.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hockey Sticks How To Choose The Right One

Hockey sticks, where would a hockey player be without them. That's right, next to skates every player needs one. You just can't play the game without a stick. So, do you just head down to the sports shop and pick up any old one? An uneducated person would say yeah, who cares? It's just a stick right? Wrong. Hockey sticks come in many shapes and sizes. To the naked eye, it would appear that they are all shaped the same, but if you look at the curvature of the blade you will begin to notice some differences. Some are geared towards different types of shooting. Hockey blades come for a variety of different types of players. They have blades for slapshots. They have them for players who are excellent puck handlers and there are hockey blades for wrist shots as well. It all depends what you think is your best asset. So as you can see, this post will talk about information on all the different types of hockey sticks.

Would you like some hockey gear info on sticks? Well good, because that is the information that I will be writing about today. If you want to play hockey, then you have got to have a stick right? Sure you do. What kind of stick do you need? Well that is up to the type of player you are. You need to ask yourself these questions. Am I fast player? Do I have a hard slapshot? Am I a finesse player?

If you are a slower player, possibly on defense, you may want to try a wooden stick. These sticks are heavier than other kinds and they cost the cheapest. Defensive Players usually don't have the sharpest of stick handling skills, so they don't need a super light hockey stick. They are more tailored towards trapping the player and clearing the zone. Their hockey gear should reflect that.

Fast players and finesse players have a little more options when it comes to stick choices. They can go with fiberglass, graphite, or aluminum. I always used fiberglass myself, even though that is the heaviest of the three choices. Aluminum felt way too light the first time I tried it. I probably didn't give myself enough time to train and get used to it. I just didn't like the feel of it. Fiberglass is heavier than aluminum, but lighter than the wooden sticks. It felt like a good comfortable weight to me. The cost is more expensive than wood with these 2 sticks, but you have the option of changing your blade when it dulls down.

Lastly, is graphite. I have no experience with this type of hockey stick. They come in one piece sticks, just like the wooden ones. The difference is that graphite hockey sticks can be extremely light weight. The lighter they are, the more the price goes up. They are supposed to be really strong though.

I didn't mention the replacement blades that can be used on some of these sticks. Personally, I always bought Koho replacement blades, because they were easily available at the local sports store. They were also relatively cheap. Every now and then I would come across an easton blade for the same price. Easton blades were pretty good too. The thing with blades is, they have to have enough glue. The best piece of hockey gear info i could give you regarding blades are that to make sure you look at the amount glue on the end before purchasing. Remember, one of the most important pieces of your hockey equipment is your hockey stick.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hockey Equipment For Indoor Hockey Is Expensive

Is indoor hockey espensive? Short answer is, yes it is. Playing inline hockey at a local club with a sport court has its ups and downs. First I'll go through the ups of an indoor club. The surface is probably the best thing. A slick smooth tiled sport court is great to play on. You can go faster, play smoother and it is easy on the rest of your equipment. Sport clubs themselves tend to be rolling in the money. So, you can expect to see referees, well organized and well balanced teams, scoreboards and maybe even a party/gift for the winning team. Sounds good right? Not so fast player, this all costs money.

Indoor Hockey Club Downsides

Well its great to have good referees right? Well these guys tend to make quite a bit of cash. Expect to pay $25 per person per team for the services of the referees. In some instances, if you cannot come up with the money, your team may have to pay a fine in order to play the next game and forfeit the current one. That doesn't sound like fun does it?

I also forgot to mention the sign up fees. They have to pay for all of the fancy tile right? The plexi glass boards and the regulation sized nets don't come cheap either. Oh and you better believe they enforce an equipment rule. You most likely can't get away with missing a pad or two at indoor clubs. They don't want to be held liable for anything, they really want your money.

Street Roller Hockey

I'm using the term street because hockey played outdoors is played on a different surface. It is more similar to a normal street. These are the leagues that are run by your local playgrounds. They tend to be cheaper, because they are not always private. Sometimes you won't even have to pay referee fees, because the refs volunteer. The downside is that street hockey really puts more wear and tear on your equipment and gear, especially your skates. Your skates are the most expensive piece of equipment in inline hockey.

In the end, it really is up to you to chose which membership you would like to buy. Outdoor or indoor? Its really like the old saying of "Apples or Oranges?". If your on a budget, then indoor hockey may be too expensive for you.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jofa Hockey Gloves For Inline Hockey Players and CCM

Ok, when I first started hockey, I wasn't using equipment that was the best of the best. Inline pants were replaced with nylon track pants. It looked close enough to the real thing. I won't go deep into hockey sticks right now, but I did use a wooden stick. This stick would often splinter, so I needed to wear gloves. I wore basic winter gloves to keep my hands from getting pieces of wood stuck in them. Cheap, but it worked.

First Pair of Real CCM Hockey Gloves

My first pair of real hockey gloves were of the CCM brand. They make good equipment. Their stuff that is more expensive though tends to last longer. Anyways, I saw the gloves at a Modells Sporting Goods store. I think I was hockey shopping for one or two other things as well. Bear in mind that at this point, I don't even think there were even any online hockey stores at the time. So whatever was in the store you went to, you ended up getting.

I saw these gloves sitting there on the rack. They were black and white, with a leather strap around the wrist. It looked cool to me. Keep in mind full leather gloves are more expensive, they last longer and I am pretty sure they protect you better too. These particular ones were not full leather, just had a leather strap with the CCM logo on it.

These were my first real pair and I used them often. I think they lasted me a year or two. I can't fully remember. What I do remember is that my hands always turned black after I played from all the dye that was used in the glove. Another thing I had to deal with was that the inner hand portion of the glove was ripped half way out. So my hand and fingers would be sticking out of it. This happened after I owned them for a few months. When I was tired of putting up with this I went on to my next pair of gloves.

Jofa Inline Roller Hockey Gloves

I had let some relatives know that I was playing roller hockey, and before you know it, I was a given a new pair of gloves as a present. It was either for my birthday, or it was a christmas gift. I can't remember, but I do remember that I loved these gloves and they lasted a few years. I was surprised, because I never really thought about looking at Jofa gloves either. I was more of a CCM, Bauer, or Easton guy.

The cool thing about these particular gloves, were that they were specifically designed for roller hockey. Possibly out door roller hockey, though I'm not sure. They had a ventilation system on the backhand of the gloves with little holes. This was for cooling. I thought it was awsome, my hands never got too hot or sweaty while playing. I loved these gloves so much, that they influenced my next pair that I would get.

2nd pair of Jofa Gloves

I liked my original Jofa hockey gloves so much, that it was the brand I went to for my next pair. Like the first set, this pair was given as a gift. Although this time, I was told to pick out a pair of gloves. I went straight for the brand that I trusted. This pair was for inline hockey, just like the first, but did not have any cooling or ventilation system. They worked like a charm though, so much so that I still have and use them to this day. They are close to ten years old and they still look pretty new.