Monday, September 14, 2009

Hockey Equipment: The Reason It Matters

Hockey equipment is not the same as other sports gear. Why is that? Take some time to think about it for little bit and you'll soon understand. Are you done yet? Can't figure it out? Well, I'll give you a hint. Think about inline hockey gear and tell me what's different about it when compared to stuff for other sports. Well for one there are wheels! Are wheels important for race car drivers? You bet your butt they sure are. So would they be just as important for a roller hockey player? Yes they would be extremely important.

I've gone through my fair share of equipment. I've tried products from all the big names. I've bought stuff from Bauer, CCM, Mission, Easton, Koho, Jofa. You name it, i've tried it. The only hockey sports company that I think I haven't tried anything from is Reebok. Although since Reebok now owns CCM, you can make the argument that I have actually tried their equipment. Heh. I've got opinions on all those companies. In fact, almost all of those opinions are favorable in one way or another. I'll reiterate which companies I like and what apparel I like to get from them and why, but for now I'm going to go into why hockey equipment can actually improve a player's performance significantly.

Hockey players need to be fast. Ever see a slow hockey player ever really make a difference? Defensive players maybe can, but they still need to be able to catch up to the offensive person when they are in the zone. I can go on and on about why speed matters in hockey or any sport for that matter. In fact, maybe I just will go on and tell you about why other companies and manufacturers think it is important too. What does protective gear for hockey and other sports have in common usually? I'll give a hint, it has to do with speed. Yeah, that's right the companies try and make their stuff aerodynamic. It works for both offense and defense in many ways. How fast can a player get the puck into another zone is important. How fast a player can catch up and engage another is important too. How quickly can hockey player avoid a check or hit? You see that all matters. I'll get back to the point on skate wheels now and why they are so great for inline hockey players.

So, if you play inline hockey, your hockey skate wheels matter greatly and will affect your performance in game. Now, it may in some cases depend on where you are playing. Well, not so much where as much as what type of surface you are playing on. I've said this over and over again. Indoor hockey leagues usually require the player to buy indoor hockey equipment or to be more specific soft wheels. Soft wheels grip the indoor hockey tiles and generally won't scuff the surface. Some leagues go as far as to tell the players they can't have any type of hockey wheels other than clear wheels. I always used to associate clear wheels with Kuzak for some reason. I think they may have had brand called Kuzak Clear that came on CCM Tacks hockey skates, but I'm not sure.

Anyways yeah, so if you are playing indoors that awsome, but what about playing outdoors. What if you are playing on cement or you are playing on street turf or any other kind of hardsurface? I used to play hockey on both and it's good idea to switch wheels to the right kinds for each surface. Usually you will buy harder hockey wheels to play on a hard surface. Is there a benefit to this? Well, harder wheels increase your speed so that helps out alot.

So will knowing about just those types of wheels help you? No of course not. Hockey equipment is probably more complicated than most sports gear. You have bearings inside those wheels. If the bearings are not taken care of, then forget it. You won't be that fast and you probably won't be having hockey games that are good for you. Bearing quality is important. I usually go with abec that have high ratings. Like abec 5, abec 7, or abec 9. Those are some pretty good hockey skate bearings, although I hear Swiss bearings are faster. I'll have to check that theory out some day. So once you get the bearings and wheels right for your hockey skates, that takes care of the speed issue. I could go into stuff like frames on inline hockey skates, but I won't. I will give this bit of advice. Stick to aluminum frames on your skates.

So which equipment did I use from what company? Well lets start off with a company called Cooper. They were bought out, by Bauer I think, but Cooper is what my first real hockey helmet was and I liked them. Nike Bauer I think makes similar style helmets now. The Cooper helmet was really light and sleak. I like it, but it did start to crack after a little use.

CCM, who are now owned by Reebok. What did I buy with the CCM brand name. Well, the first pair of gloves I ever purchased were CCM gloves. They were okay. The fabric tore on the inside part of the palm area. I actually stitched up myself even though I did a crappy job. Those gloves were nothing special though. What I liked about CCM was their skates. I particularly liked their Tacks brand of hockey skates. Those were good skates, but they didn't fit all that snug. I still don't regret buying them though, because they lasted for more than 10 years. An inline skate that can still be used 10 years later is something to be proud of in my honest opinion. I put those skates through hell too. Oh and before I forget, I used to buy nhl hockey jerseys that were made by them. You need jerseys to play hockey, you would look stupid without them, so I classify it as equipment.

Okay, I know I mentioned Jofa up there too. I know Wayne Gretzky used Jofa gear. I never liked their hockey helmets though. They looked to egg like to me. What I did like was Jofa's hockey gloves. The first pair I had of them was given to me for my birthday. They were an awsome gift. Those gloves were comfortable and had this awsome air cooling system. So my hands would never really get that hot and they wouldn't sweat as much when I played hockey. My second pair of gloves were also made by the same company. Like the first pair, these were also a gift. They didn't have the whole air cooling features within the gloves, but they were built better and more sturdy. It's important to have tough hockey gloves, because you don't want your hands to get injured by a highstick or anything of that nature. I almost forgot that I did have pair of Jofa elbow pads too as well as shin pads. The shin pads eventually broke. The knee cap protector seperated from the shin guard, but the elbow pads I still have.

I'll be short on the company Bauer. I think they are one of the best hockey companies there are. I don't even have any equipment by them at the moment. Their skates however did make an impression on me when I had them. I liked the way they fit. They were perfectly conformed to my foot. Well, almost. I had purchased a cheaper pair of Bauer hockey skates, but I was surprised at their quality. They were by far my most favorite.

Mission, they were bought out by Bauer recently. I actually recieved a pair of Mission hockey skates for Christmas. The problem was they did not fit me. I ended up taking them back to the store and purchasing the Tack skates that I talked about earlier. I did however come back to Mission when I purchased their inline hockey pants. I used to have Black Biscuit pants, but I wanted a change of pace and was happy I decided to switch. I do however have to wonder about weather it made me drop in skating speed. The bottom line is that my mission hockey pants were pretty tough and offered good protection as well. In hockey, protective equipment is a must, so they earn points in that respect. The other type of hockey gear I have from Mission are their shin guards. Mission makes some awsome shin pads and I'll just leave it at that. Ok, well I won't just leave it there. They have only 2 straps that wrap around the pad and are velcro, they fit perfect on me. I love em.

Ok, two other companies that I like and will include them together. The reason is that I like them for a certain type of equipment. Hockey sticks, or more specifically hockey stick blades. You know, the replacement blades. I will say that I have owned both Easton and Koho full hockey sticks. I usually by Koho sticks for use as backup sticks incase my blade breaks on my main ones. The Easton sticks I own are not really sticks, but hockey shafts. I like hockey shaft because I can always get replacement blades for them later. I always used to buy Koho hockey blades and I liked them. Every once and awhile though I would get an Easton blade. Oh and yeah, I do think hockey sticks are important for a player. They can improve his skill and shot tremendously. If your stick is light, you can stick handle faster and shoot quicker. Goalies hate that fancy crap, so make sure you buy a an ultra light hockey stick.

I think I've covered all the companies that I usually buy my gear from. Actually, that's not true. There are still two other companies that I always forget about, but they do make some useful hockey equipment or should I say accessories. Franklin and Mylec. These two companies make the best hockey balls and hockey pucks out there for inline hockey. So, if you play roller hockey on the street, you might want to get a hockey ball. I used to use the Franklin balls, but then eventually started going the pucks. The puck weight is never right for me, and I end up putting pennies inside it. Either that or you can go buy an RHI roller hockey puck. The pucks with those little wheels in them. They're ok. It all depends on the surface.

So you see, hockey players can have an advantage in what they buy. Everything counts. It's actually popular to buy from online hockey stores now. I've done that a couple times. Sometimes with good service, sometimes with bad service. I never name names though. I just won't shop there again. Maybe some of you will end up using this as a guide. I don't know, I just feel the need to write about hockey. I love roller hockey or inline hockey or whatever you want to call it. It's probably my favorite sport to play. I hope by reading this you will share my opinion that the right hockey equipment can help elevate a player.

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