Friday, September 25, 2009

Hockey Wheels

Being a roller hockey player, one of the pieces of equipment that I am quite familiar with are roller hockey wheels. I've said many times that if you are an inline hockey player, then your skates are probably the most important piece of hockey gear you will ever own. Your skates can make you or break you as a player. I've gone threw many problems and found some solutions over the years regarding my wheels and bearings. I'm basically going to break down this post into a few sections. One being the hockey wheels themselves and the type that I like to buy and the best and worst performing brands. Then I will get in to the whole bearings issue and talk about what I'd done wrong there for years. There's bunch of things to cover when talking about your skate wheels, some of it I already went over, but I'll reiterate so people reading this won't have to go back and search like a million paragraphs of material.



Hockey Wheels



My first experience with inline skate wheels was actually not on a pair of hockey skates. It was on a pair of roller blades. Those wheels were terrible. Back then, I didn't even know about the bearings in the wheels because I was a novice when it came to knowing about hockey gear. A fellow hockey player turned me on to those not long after I started playing, but for awhile, I was clueless. These roller blade wheels rattled on and on where ever I would skate. I couldn't gain any speed and compete with the people who had real hockey skates. Eventually these wheels would split and become bumpy. A tip for everyone out there, you'll never be that good a hockey player if your wheels are making noise and feel bumpy. There is just no way to compete against other people with a real pair of skates, not unless everyone else had noisey crappy hockey wheels.



My 2nd pair of skates did the same thing. They were a pair of buckle skates made by CCM. Me being naive, I thought that because they had the CCM logo on them, they were hockey skates. They weren't. They made noise, the wheels rattled on and on and eventually split. Keep in mind that CCM does make some great hockey gear and were actually bought out by Reebok, but I think these were some generic brand of skates for recreational consumers, not sports players. Like everything in life, I learned about skates the hard way. It cost me some time and some money to eventually start to get to the right place when it came to playing hockey. The good news is that I think I succeeded and over came my ignorance to the sport of roller hockey many years ago.



My 3rd pair of skates were by Bauer and by this time I started getting hip to the whole idea of different hockey wheels for the skates. I signed up for an indoor league that had a sport court surface. Before this I had always gotten clear skate wheels because I thought that they felt smoother. In most cases, these clear wheels were probably indoor wheels made of a softer material to grip the surface. I used those clear on outdoor surfaces, which wore them down fast. Again, it was my ignorance that did this. For the indoor league though they said we NEEDED to have clear wheels or sport court wheels. I thought wow, there's a difference in material? I went to the local Play It Again Sports store and looked specifically for sport court wheels. I found a really cool orange pair. I don't remember the name. They may have been either Hyper wheels or Kryptonics wheels. I started reading the back of the packet and saw that indoor wheels were soft. The softer they were, the more control you had with stopping and turning. The harder the wheels were, the faster you went, but you didn't have as much control. This was some cool stuff and it got me into experimentation.



A friend of mine who was a really good hockey player always had the best equipment. He kept up to date on all things roller hockey. I noticed one day he had the front and back wheel the same and the two inner wheels a different brand. I asked him what the hell that was for. He told me that the front and back wheels were harder hockey wheels for speed and that the inner wheels were soft for control. I had to try out this little theory and low and behold, I had the best hockey games of my life that way. I outskated everyone and manuevered around the rink with ease. I suggest for any inline hockey player who is a speed freak to try it out. I was extremely satisified with the results.

As for the bearings inside my skates. I had a pair that came with abec 3 bearings, but I usually switched them out for something slightly higher. I think the Bauer skates I put abec 5s in. Then later on I added some abec 7 bearings. The way I cleaned my bearings were completely wrong. I used to add WD40 to them. Well, I sprayed it on them. I thought it would clean them, but what it would do is dry them up and get rid of the good bearing grease that would actually cause them to rotate faster. This was a huge mistake and thankfully I know to never do it again. The best thing to do is to just buy some hockey skate bearing lubricant.

Now I'd like to give some words of wisdom to some people who play indoor hockey. I've played on sport courts and I've said that softer wheels help you grip. Normally these wheels are great for indoor hockey with one exception. If you are playing inside a roller skating rink, you might want to think twice about the type of wheels you get. Usually, public skating rinks are not outfitted with a hockey sport court surface, so the indoor hockey wheels may have a different effect. In my case, the rink surface was hardwood flooring, almost like a basketball gym floor. The first game or two that I played the softer hockey wheels worked fine. After that, it seems that the sticky softness of the wheels picked up a soot like dust around the entire wheel. It looked as though I had skated in ashes and they actually stuck to the wheels. This became a huge problem. I couldn't wash this off, it was like dusty scuffiness that clinged to the wheels. Why was this so bad for my hockey playing? The wheels lost their stickiness because of the soot like covering. It looked as though I had skated out the street and the wheels got dirty, but when I tried to skate forward and go faster, I would actually slide and slip to the side and sometimes fall. Think of it as trying to ice skate in normal sneakers or shoes with no blade to glide on and that was the feeling. My feet would just slide out from under me and if I did gain enough momentum forget about turns. The only thing cool about that was that I could hockey stop like on ice skates and it would slide a little bit. All in all though, it was frustrating.

My theory on wooden surfaces is that I maybe should've used hard wheels, like outdoor wheels. If you think about it, the public skating rink is filled with people who skate outdoors and possibly don't clean their skates. The rinks themselves probably aren't as thoroughly cleaned and taken care of as actual sport court surfaces. So, if you roller hockey play at a public skating rink, make sure that you have hard hockey wheels.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hockey Equipment Update: Reebok, CCM, Bauer, Jofa

If you are wondering why my old hockey equipment posts are showing up all in one day, there is an explanation.  There was a misunderstanding with the blogger team in which they sent all those old hockey posts to a drafted state and they were no longer apart of the blog.  They emailed me and gave me notification that I am now free to republish them.  The problem is that all of my old posts are appearing ahead of my new ones.  Annoying?  Yes it is, but I don't want to dwell on it.  If you want to read my newest post(other than this one), you will see that I linked to it in the first sentence.  With that out of the way I would like to get back to what you are all here for and that is some hockey gear information.

Now those old posts talked about quite a bit of equipment from companies that are either no longer around or have been bought out by others.  I figured I should talk about that since it is kind of indirectly related to the events on this blog.  I say time and time again that we as hockey players are getting less and less choices when it comes to who we get our gear from.  All the hockey companies are partnering and buying each other out.  There's no more Mission Hockey, there is, but it's a apart of Bauer.  Don't forget that Bauer was bought out by Nike awhile ago.  You see where I am heading with this?  That's 3 seperate companies that are now one.  It gets better though.  It does not end there in the world of hockey.

Reebok has made smart business decisions.  Very smart.  Incredibly smart.  If you look at the NHL, they are all over it.  You know who used to make NHL Jerseys?  CCM used to.  Why don't they do that anymore?  Reebok bought them out.  Reebok still keeps the name CCM for certain lines of their products.  I would too, because they are a familiar and popular name in the hockey universe.  Notice though, that you don't see Jofa anymore?  Why?  Well, Reebok bought them out too!  Yep, I think they did it in the early 2000's.  Anyways, they decided that they would phase out the Jofa name and they certainly accomplished that.  I always remember Jofa, because that's what "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky wore.  I'll miss Jofa.  I always liked Jofa's pads, particularly their elbow pads.  I guess good old RBK makes those now.

Oh, I hope you've noticed the recent changes in our blog design as well.  Anything to make it more easy to read these long and boring hockey posts.  Well, to reiterate some things I've said previously, the following are some personal opinions about the state of hockey skates:

I've always had a problem with CCM skates.  Even though they lasted quite long, my foot felt as though it was in a long hallway.  In order for those hockey skates to be tight I needed to be able to do two things.  One of which I did do and the other of would have been impossible for me to even try.  First the impossible thing that no hockey player should try and do is widen their foot.  You most likely will end up breaking it.  There goes your dreams of getting into the NHL.  The second thing, which I did do, was to wear 2 pairs of socks on each foot.  Talk about blisters galore.  Always and I mean always make sure you put cotton at the back of your foot if you plan on doing this.  That's how I fixed that problem with those inline skates.

Now, if Reebok is basically CCM with a different name now, wouldn't they have the same problem.  To be honest, I haven't tried any of their skates yet.  I assume they don't have this issue with their RBK series of skates and I will explain why.  For sometime now, Reebok has revived their old sneaker pump invention and applied it to their skates.  So if they are too wide, I imagine that you just squeeze the pump a few times until it fits better.  There goes that problem out the window.  Can I confirm this for myself?  Nope, but I am guessing here.

I am also going to assume that Bauer's inline hockey skates are still made for narrow footed people like myself.  I've seen several articles that say they do.  If I had the money I would go and buy both pairs of skates and try out each.  I do not, so I'll probably get new Bauers whenever I go hockey shopping again.  The one thing that I do like is that all the big companies seem to include better skate bearings.  Back in the day, I was used to seeing abec 3's in most of the skates I bought.  It would be a pain to have to go out and buy better bearings for my new pair of skates.

Well, that's all i'm going to talk about for today.  I'm still pissed off about the old posts being removed thing.  Hopefully it won't affect this blog.  I'll be making more hockey equipment posts in the future.

Hockey Equipment: Mission Carbon Helmet Review

Are Mission Carbon Helmets good you ask? Yes, they are very good hockey helmets. I used to have a helmet that was made by the company Cooper. They were bought out I think by Bauer a long time ago. I still have the helmet although it is quite small now. The cage is now used on another helmet although I think I've outgrown that too. This was replaced by a Mission brand helmet. I'd like to give some reasons why the Mission helmet is an awsome helmet, although I don't know if they are made anymore. Some online hockey stores sell them and some don't.

Carbon Hockey Helmet Is Aerodynamic

This helmet has no seams. It is not pieced together with screws at different parts of the head. It is all one piece. This means that your speed advantage may increase a bit, which is always good in a fast sport such as hockey.

Carbon Hockey Helmet Is Tough

When I play hockey, I'm like a nat. I'm quick, fast and annoying if you are the opposing player and you have the puck. About 2 weeks after playing with the helmet, I frustrated one player so much, that he took his stick and did a full swing at my head. It was quite powerful. It knocked me the hell over. Being hit in the head with a hockey stick full force is quite a shock. While the force knocked me over, I was fully protected. Pissed off, but not harmed. When I went back to the bench and looked at the helmet, there was a tiny chip of paint removed despite the full forced swing and impact. The chip was about the size of a tiny freckle. I was impressed with helmet.

Carbon Hockey Helmet Is Made Of Carbon, Not Plastic

I remember reading the about section where I purchased the helmet. It said that it was made of the same carbon fiber material that is used for race car drivers. This is great considering a whole bunch of helmets out there use plastic and can break or crack if the impact is severe.

Well that was my experience with Missions hockey helmet, do i recommend it? Yes I do.

Goalie Pads For Roller Hockey Goalies

The hockey position I will be talking about next is a popular one. I will be focusing on the roller hockey goalie. The Goalie Pads For Roller Hockey Goalies is a proper title since this is what this entire post will be about.

Update:I've changed the title back to the original, because the focus between ice hockey goalies and roller hockey goalies are entirely different.

A word of warning, if you are thinking of getting into the goalie position, it can be the most expensive position in hockey. Goalies should always be extremely protected. You don't want to purchase cheap equipment when you are playing in the net. Notable companies that make good goalie gear are Sherwood, Bauer, TPS, CCM, Reebok RBK, Nike and a few others.

First things first, I was never actually a good goalie. I was terrible at it. I never liked the idea of pucks flying at my face going 100mph even if I had the best equipment and pads in the world. I usually played forward. Sometimes I was center, because I was quick at faceoffs. I also played winger alot too. So, I'll have to share with you the opinions of friend who was goalie.

Goalies like to be protected so they can do their job. The helmet is a key ingredient in that. A buddy of mine used to use a helmet with a very short neck area. That means that the helmet left the neck exposed. He liked this because he was able to move his head around more freely. He was fine with this, until he got hit in the neck hard. At this point, he decided to switch to an I-Tech goalie helmet. The only problem he saw with the I-tech helmet was that the neck piece came down real low and often got in his way. He even talked about sanding it down. I'm guessing a normal neck protector for goalies would be good for most people though.

Now, lets get on to what everyone wants to hear about most, the leg pads. I remember when he first started out, he used the brand that most kids used when starting out playing street hockey. This brand was Franklin. They used velcro straps. These pads were ok, but they did begin to rip when he started to play more aggressively in goal. The next brand he got is what most kids have when they start playing in hockey leagues, Mylec. Mylec goalie pads were better. They had a foam on the inside, but a hard plastic covering on the outside. He really liked these pads, but always complained about the buckles pinching his legs. They did last long though.

The next items I won't be able to go into too much detail about, because I can't remember all the brands that he used. He used a Franklin waffle for the longest time, but then switched over to a leather Cooper waffle. He also went from a Franklin glove, to a leather Cooper glove. He used a chest protector as well that was for ice hockey goalies. One odd thing he liked was using regular ice hockey player pants, instead of goalie pants.

Another thing you will see when playing street hockey, is that the goalies always used to play in their shoes. I think my friend was one of the only people who almost exclusively played in skates. For the longest time he used CCM buckle skates. This posed problems for him, because these skates weren't meant for hockey players let alone goalies. The buckles on the skates would always flip open when he went down to make a save. Eventually he decided to buy trick skates, the kind skaters would use to grind down railings. The reason he chose these, were because they were low to the ground just like goalie skates. It was actually hard to find goalie inline skates back in the day.

The last thing I should mention is the stick he used. For a long time, he used a Mylec goalie stick. This was a wooden stick, with a plastic blade. I would never recommend these sticks if you plan to play seriously, weather your a goalie or normal player. They break and wear down easily. My friend eventually settled on a wooden Cooper stick that lasted awhile, but eventually broke. Since Cooper was no longer around and was bought out by another company, he decided to go with a Sherwood goalie stick. The Sherwood is still in use to this day. Hope this has been informative on the hockey equipment known as goalie pads.

Bauer The Best Hockey Skates

Ok, so the Wayne Gretzky brand of inline skates turned were not the best hockey skates. I hear Reebok skates are a good brand now, but back in the day I couldn't buy them, I made a bad decision and bought a bad brand. That happens. In fact, it happens a whole lot in sports, especially when a player is new to that sport. After the whole wheels splitting, bearing rattling, boot separating skates of old, I went down to my local shop to pick out a new pair and this time I made a good decision.

I was on a budget so I couldn't spend a whole lot of money. I was surprised to see a pair of Bauers that was only like $130-$145. This was well before the Bauer Vapor existed. I can't remember the actual price, but it was around that low. These skates fit perfectly, no wobbling, everything was good. They even came with abec 3 bearings, the type I had to pay for after my Gretzky ones were worn out. So the boot was snug, the wheels were only ok, but the bearings were better than my last pair of skates.

This type of skate was different, because it had like a nylon threaded boot cap at the toe. I actually needed to buy a special kind of coating to coat and protect the toe area of the skate. It was called Protectoe. It was like a black rubber cement like material that would dry and harden. It was fun, gave me something to maitenance in between games.

Earlier I mentioned the skate wheels were only ok. They lasted longer than the Gretzky wheels, but eventually cracked and split. I got these new wheels called Hyper. They were a pair of sport court wheels, because I was playing indoor hockey at the time. These coupled with my bauers were awsome. They lasted longer than my previous pair and I was happy.

After the Bauers ended up with some wear and tear, I gave them away to a friend. What happened with the Bauer skates, was that the frame had cracked a little. They weren't the most expensive things in the world, so the frame was made of plastic. Later on I learned that it was beneficial to get aluminum chassis with your skates as they would offer better control and last longer.

The Most Popular Hockey Equipment Brands In The Sport

Ok, i'm going to give anyone reading this the run down on the most popular hockey equipment Brands. There are many types of brands some specialize in certain types of equipment. The abec brand is a type of brand that is used in bearings for hockey skates. Abec bearings usually come with Bauer and CCM skates. Lower end cheaper skates will come with Abec 3 bearings. Higher end more expensive skates usually come with abec 5 or higher.

There is also something called Swiss bearings. Swiss bearings are competitive with abec bearings. Some players swear that these bearings are faster and are of a better quality than abec. You usually find these bearings in Mission hockey skates. I'm not positive, but I think Mission almost exclusively uses Swiss in their line of skates.

Now, my memory is a little shoddy, so the history may be a little off on what i'm about to explain here. Ok, if you are a hockey player, then you know the CCM and Bauer brand. Both of these brands are known as all around equipment brands. They make pretty much any type of gear you see in hockey. A while back, there used to be a brand called Cooper. Cooper was bought out by Bauer. After this, Nike came out with hockey equipment. Then Nike decided to buy Bauer. So even though the name is different your money may be going to the same company.

There are a so many brands to choose from, but the ones I've named are the most popular and well known. Don't forget there is also Easton, who make awsome pads and sticks. There is also Reebok, who are also growing in popularity in the hockey equipment world. So that is the low down on hockey equipment brands.

Roller Hockey Pants Not Ice Hockey Pants

Wow 2 posts in one day. Roller hockey is my sport of choice, so I will be focusing on the best hockey pants for roller hockey. I guess I should explain the difference between the two before I get into it. Roller hockey pants or inline hockey pants as some like to call them, are basically used to cover your pads and make you more aerodynamic. They also provide another layer of protection and help your shin pads last longer. The other type of hockey pants are almost like padded shorts. They come down just above the knee. You see these more in ice hockey than you do in roller hockey. The best hockey pants are basically ones that fit you comfortably.

Ok, I can't remember the brand of my first pair of hockey pants. They may have been called ahi or rhi pants or something to that effect. They were way too big. I had to roll them up and use tape just so I could skate without tripping. They were also relatively cheap. At the time I was fairly new to hockey, so anything was better than nothing. Although in this case, I'm not positive about that.

Before I go any further I want to answer a question that may be in many peoples minds. Are hockey pants expensive? You bet they are. It all depends on how good they are and what brand of pants you are buying. The second pair of pants I bought were made by Black Biscuit. The Black Biscuit pair of pants were awsome. They were made of good material and they lasted long. The downside to them at the time was that they cost $70.

The third brand of hockey pants I bought were by Mission. These were my favorite pair. They looked really sleak and were very thick, yet lightweight. They even cost less than the Black Biscuit pants. I still use this pair today and they held up great over the years. So, make sure you get your size right when purchasing a pair of hockey pants, because if they don't fit, they aren't the best and the they won't be much good to you.

Abec Bearings Or Swiss Bearings

Ok, within the past 10 years, an important inline hockey decision is still being decided on and that decision is weather to go with Swiss bearings or Abec bearings in your inline hockey skates. So is Swiss better than Abec? Well there seems to be a whole bunch of disinformation regarding the subject.

I've been an inline hockey player for a long time. I can't say too much about the performance of Swiss, because I've never used them yet. I plan on buying them someday. From what I've seen they are a bit more expensive than abec bearings. Through out my roller hockey years, I've exclusively used abec bearings, but i've made mistakes in choosing them.

Abec Ratings

Abec ratings are numbers assigned to the bearings. You'll see abec 3, abec 5 etc... The mistake I made was thinking that the numbers represented how fast they were. They don't. The numbers on abec's bearings represent certain measurements within the bearings. I will say that when I had Abec 5 vs. Abec 3, the abec 5 did feel faster. In reality, the lubricant on the bearings are what will determine your speed.

Now I've read that Swiss bearings are faster than Abecs. This is subjective and most people will tell you one thing or the other. I've read everything from Swiss having to be broken in order to be faster, to the higher Abec ratings have a shorter lifespan. In the end, the only way to determine if you should go with Swiss bearings or Abec bearings, is to buy a each and use one after the other.

Alexander Ovechkin Hockey Equipment

Many of the people out there are looking for Alexander Ovechkin equipment. I did make an ovechkin related post on the website before. It was being critical of his celebrations and behavior on ice during hockey games. All of that aside, Ovechkin is one good hockey player. People's fascination with his equipment and hockey gear comes as no surprise. The same thing happened with Lemieux and Gretzky. I even wrote about my Gretzky hockey equipment in the very first post on this website.

To get right down to it, I've done some hockey gear research. So, if you want to have matching gear going with your Ovechkin jersey, then read on. CCM Vector has their own line of ovechkin sponsored equipment. This has to mean he has a deal with CCM. He also wears their Vector line of hockey skates as well. So if you want to be like your favorite player, better get some Vector hockey equipment.

CCM Vector Skates

The CCM Vector Skates are basically the type of hockey skates that CCM now manufactures. I've got no problems with CCM. In fact, I've said it before and I'll say it again, their skates that I own have lasted me longer than any other pair of inline hockey skates that I've had previously. If you want me to be more specific, I don't know anyone else who had a longer lasting pair of skates. We are talking inline skates here though, not ice hockey. The question I have is, are CCM's Vector skates that much more revolutionary than their old Tacks brand.

If you check the specs on the Vectors, you'll see that on the surface, there does not seem to be much difference than their old line of skates. I have to admit though, CCM does know how to sell a piece of hockey equipment. The CCM Vectors are much cooler looking and more streamlined than the Tacks. The one thing I'm reading about the Vectors that seem like they might be better is the whole weight shifting technology that claims to make the hockey player be able to skate faster. I don't own any skates of this type, so I can't review them. Maybe one day I will. Until then you'll either have to buy a pair yourself or take the company's word for it that CCM Vector Skates are what they say they are.

Roller, Street and Inline Hockey Pucks And Brands

One of the most important decisions you make when buying hockey gear, is buying the right hockey pucks. Now, this all depends on what kind of hockey you will be playing. Most indoor sport court leagues require you to use a roller puck, designed specifically for the indoor surface. Some of these are light, some may be a tad heavier. The problem with roller pucks is that they tend to roll like a wheel quite a bit.

If you are playing outdoors, street hockey, you have two options. You can go with a puck or you can go with a ball. The tends to have more of a constant motion. This can be good if you like the game to be more like its on ice. The downside to using a hockey ball, is that it can be a little too easy to scoop shots into the air. They also tend to take big air every now and then on slapshots. This can get annoying if the ball frequently flies out of the rink on every single slapshot. Some good hockey ball brands I used to play with were Mylec and Franklin. The best brand I've ever used was Eastons hockey ball. It was weighted perfectly in my opinion.

Outdoor Pucks

Outdoor pucks are another option street hockey players have. We used to use Mylec and Franklin outdoor pucks the most. These were good pucks, but like the indoor roller hockey pucks, they sometimes felt to light. We used to slice a small hole in the pucks and fill them with pennies. This would give the pucks a better weight and would allow for far more control in both shots and stick handling. Hope you've enjoyed this hockey gear info on pucks.

Roller Hockey Pucks

Yeah, I know there are outdoor roller hockey pucks, but if you play indoors on a sport court, you are going to need a different kind. Usually the indoor leagues buy the official type of roller hockey pucks. They have like like a normal puck shape, but some have these 3 ball/wheels that look like something you might see on the bottom of a computer mouse. The other kind of puck has a bunch of ball like things attached to it, but they don't move and there is also holes in the center of the puck.

Hockey Cages or Shields?

That it is the question. Do you choose hockey cages or shields when playing hockey? I'm not going to dwell too long on this topic other than to give a few thoughts and opinions on such an issue. When you choose a helmet, you most likely will have to pick weather you go with a cage or a shield. Cages are expensive, but shields are even more so.

When I was younger, we always used to play without helmets because it was easier to see. We didn't really worry about getting our heads smashed. It wasn't until we joined a league that we needed to buy helmets. I never really liked cages, they obscure too much of your vision. Up until I was about fifteen I had 20/20 vision. One day my eyes got worse and worse to the point where I needed glasses. I still played hockey without them though. Cages didn't help the issue.

My eyes got so bad that I would no longer be able to accept passes from teammates. I had to rely more on being a strong offensive player and increase my passing skills. Passing to other players that is. The problem was that anything more than 3-4 feet infront of my eyes was blurry. So if someone passed me the puck, my eyes couldn't coordinate where it was until it was already near my stick. Just think about how fast passes come at you and imagine closing your eyes until it is 1 foot away from your stick, then try to open them and judge where your stick should be. That was my problem and trust me, it was hard. I couldn't even accept slow passes somtimes.

Now, to compound these problems, my hockey helmet had a cage on it. Blurry vision, check. Cage in front of blurry vision, check. I haven't played hockey in a long time, but if i did, I would most likely go with a shield or visor. The reason I avoided these before, was because I heard that they can fog up pretty bad and to me, that would be worse than a cage. Today, I most likely would get a cage/visor combo shield. Itech makes these and they look good. This is basically my whole opinion on the hockey cages or shields question.

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.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reebok Hockey Equipment

Everyone out there knows that Reebok hockey equipment or whatever gear they choose, can make or break a serious hockey player. Reebok hockey skates are more and more popular each day. Reebok is a company that is zooming full speed ahead at obtaining supremacy in the competition for best hockey gear manufacturer. The National Hockey League thinks that they are good enough to be called official equipment of the NHL. This company went from being a mere shoe company to dominating sports equipment. Think about that for a second. It doesn't take a genius to realize that Reebok is giving it there are all. The way I see it, hockey players both professional and recreational, will only benefit. While Bauer has reigned supreme all these years with CCM coming in at a very close second, they now have to up their game. When you see what's mostly known as a shoe manufacturer starting to gain speed in the hockey equipment department, you know you are in for a tough road ahead.



Lets take a look at Reebok's hockey skates for a second. We'll focus on the RBK series. They have included one of their old famous shoe designs, known as the pump, into the skate. The pump when you think about it, should be ideal for a hockey player. They need their skates to be extremely tight on their feet if they want optimal control. You can't be a fast player without some sort of control and in theory, the pump would be great for that. Are there drawbacks to the Reebok pump skate? There could be. I'm not familiar with all of the inner workings of the skate, but the pump probably works by trapping air in the boot of the skate. What happens if this breaks. Will it deflate and be left unstiff or loose? Will you also have to go out and buy a new pair of hockey skates? I don't know, maybe not though. Remember, they are endorsed by the NHL, so they most likely are a quality skate.



Remember when I said that CCM was always a close second and that Bauer had to get a move on? Well, CCM was bought out by Reebok. That is why you only see the official Reebok logo on the NHL jerseys now. While the fact that they obtained a quality hockey company should improve their products, I am always worried about the fact that us hockey players are having smaller and smaller choices when it comes to equipment. You have to look at the flipside though. Now that the two companies are under one roof, the technology for making hockey gear should vastly improve.



There were some dark spots on the company in 2008. Reebok had to recall around one thousand helmets because of faulty chin straps. The RBK helmet models HT4K up to HT8K were the ones that were recalled. I'm pretty sure even with this minor setback, there were no reported injuries with the defective helmets. I can forgive them for this little blunder and I'm sure most hockey players will too.



The RBK Inline Series of Equipment



Their current line of skates are:



Crimson Shadow



- The Pump

- TRI-DI Lite Aluminum Chasis

- Rink Rat Hockey Wheels



Resurrektion



- The Pump

- TRI-DI Lite Extruded Aluminum Chasis

- Rink Rat Hornet Wheels



Dusk



- The Pump

- TRI-DI Lite Extruded Aluminum Chasis

- Rink Rat Hot Shot Wheels

- Skatelock



Forsaken



- The Pump

- TRI-DI Lite Extruded Aluminum Chasis

- Rink Rat Hot Shot Wheels

- Skatelock

- Side Vamping with air intake



Azure



- Rink Rat VT 733 Wheels

- Side Vamping with air intake

- Embossed tendon guard

- Vented toe cap



Anyone who's familiar with roller hockey would be able to tell which one is the best skate. I'll help out a bit. I'm going to go ahead and say that I think it is the first one. The first skate seems to be their top of the line one too. I've got no idea what the actual retail price is, but I've seen these skates going for upwards of four hundred dollars. If you search for your online hockey stores, you may be able to get it on discount. Sometimes if you have a certain size foot, they'll have an extra pair that usually is hard to sell and they may mark off the price on the inline skates.

So, there you have it. With all the hoopla regarding Reebok as the number one hockey equipment manufacturer, I can very well say that they atleast seem to be trying their hardest. With a brand name like CCM under their belt I have faith in them. I've been dying to try out a pair of their RBK skate series, maybe one day I will.