What's In My Hockey Bag?
By Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing
Today I'm writing something a little bit different. Instead of doing a review, I decided to make this post a little bit interactive and hopefully you guys will jump in and participate. I love the fact that you guys read these posts and hope you have as much fun reading them as I do writing about gear. Being such an equipment guy, everything in my bag has some special meaning to me and most of it has been in there for a while. You all know the old question about how if the house were burning down, what would you go grab? Well, my first trip in is to get my hockey bag and the second would be to grab my golf clubs – my girlfriend is a pretty smart chick, I’m confident she could find her way out....but please, nobody tell her I wrote that!
Helmet: Easton E-700 w/Oakley Pro Straight Visor
Usual Helmet: Bauer 4500 w/ Oakley Pro Straight Visor
Elbow Pads: Jofa 9025
Pants: Nike Pro BU
Shin Pads: Easton S-19 Shin
Shoulder Pads: Farrell H600
Fitting Women's Skates
By Carly Stella, Assistant Manager, Dover, NH
Being a female hockey player, there arises some scenarios with having gear fit properly. Due to the shear nature of our bone structure, and in most cases, height, there comes a time when things don’t seem “quite right” when trying equipment on. Remember, gear is fit with using a male model as well as foot cast for skates. Men we are not! I have spoken with a number of female customers that seem to have the same issues. There has yet to be a company that can find a good design to fit all shapes and sizes. Even all the way down to our feet, paying close attention to what we choose for gear is essential.
For me, the hardest piece of equipment, I find, to fit properly are skates. Most women’s feet, honestly, fit closer to the way a junior skate boot is formed. Yes, most of us are, however, I know that there are many issues we have with finding a skate that fits the space between the boot height and where it’s tied and where the top of our feet start, as well as the toe box. Heel lifts, as well as insoles, have been a tremendous help to our female customers, as well as doing slight modifications to the boot. For example; making an additional eyelet, generally where Reebok places their lace locks, minimizes lace bite and makes it easier to tighten the boot around the ankle.
A lower profile skate seems to be best for the structure of our feet, such as a Bauer Vapor or CCM U+ series. I have noticed that the wider toe box on the CCM seems to allow for shorter toes and where they meet our foot. The Vapor series offers a low profile at the top of the foot, leaving “less of a void” between the ankle and the skate. There is always the option to opt for pro tongues, or a thicker tongue to help fill the skate as well.
There are many of us that have no issues with skates, which makes the joy of lacing up a new pair even better! I suggest to try on brands outside your normal comfort zone if you are having skate issues. Even small adjustments like the way you tie your skates, or wearing different socks can make a world of difference!
Work hard, play harder… Always!!
Customizing Hockey Skates
By Jon Stone, Director of Store Operations
One of the best things about working at Pure Hockey is, well, working at a hockey store! It is never a bad or boring time when you are interacting with hockey people and are around hockey equipment all day. As an added bonus, we recently had a chance to travel up to Canada and meet with three equipment manufacturers - Reebok/CCM, Easton, and Bauer – to pick their brains concerning manufacturing and customizing skates. Our stores are loaded with employees who are hockey players and who love the sport. More importantly, our store managers have years of hockey and retail experience and each have a unique knowledge of how to address issues concerning the fit of your hockey skate.
A small group of four store managers and our equipment buyer headed north of the border for three days in May to work with the heads of the skate design, production, and pro departments at the offices of hockey's top vendors. We had an opportunity to tour the custom/pro stock factories, view some of the Research and Distribution processes and talk with the actual people who build the skates that your favorite NHL players and other professional hockey players wear. The purpose of our trip was to understand how the skate manufacturing gurus solved foot/skate issues for professional hockey players and how we could incorporate some of what they do at the retail level. We were able to ask representatives from Easton, Bauer, and Reebok/CCM how they deal with pronation and supination issues, the use of lifts in skates, and ways to combat lace bite. We discussed ways to properly measure an athlete’s foot, ways to increase the volume of a boot, and what NHL guys are the biggest prima donnas when it comes to their skates (I’ll never tell……).
We talked about dealing with and fixing arch pain and the correct heating process to fit or customize a skate. We learned that there are over 30 different tongues you can choose from when ordering a Bauer custom skate and also which 3 or 4 are the most popular and should be carried at store level. While our focus was on skates, we also had a chance to talk custom pro stock gloves with Easton, spent some time checking out the testing that happens to protective equipment before it is safe to use, and had our fill of chicken in a box, Tim Horton’s, and Molson X.
The invaluable knowledge we gained on this trip will now be shared with all the store managers, to be used to help you – our customers! In the coming months we will be even better equipped to fit you for a custom skate, relieve a fit problem with your retail boot, and help you to be a better hockey player. We will be launching programs where you can set up a time for a custom skate fitting with one of our “skate experts” if you have an issue with your foot or skating and we will be incorporating more equipment repair work and skate customization detail at many of our locations.
This is one of MANY customer service enhancements you will see at Pure Hockey in the coming months. Stay tuned for more soon!
Choosing the Right Hockey Stick Flex
When you walk into a Pure Hockey and see the amount of sticks we usually have in stock, we admit it can be overwhelming for someone who isn’t well-versed in HOCKEY GEAR. In some cases, there are thousands of sticks in stock, so it’s not easy for the casual player or parent. That said, we enlisted our store manager up in Dover, NH, to take the mystery out of it for you. Here’s their clear and concise take on how to choose the right flex:
The most important factor to consider when choosing the flex for a stick is weight. More so than height, the weight of the player using the stick makes the biggest difference in the player’s ability to flex the stick and get off a better shot. Height can be factored into determining the proper flex, but primarily only for tall adults that fall right in the middle of two flex options. For example, a 190 pound player should generally use a regular senior flex. However, if the 190 pound player is 6’6” he might want to use a stiff flex because of the amount of leverage he can get on his stick.
Another thing about flex to keep in mind when shopping for a new stick is that the flex rating that manufacturers put on the sticks is not based on a universal scale. For example, what reebok considers an 85 flex might feel distinctly different than what Warrior considers an 85 flex to be.
All composite sticks can be cut shorter or have an extension put in to make them longer. This, however, changes the flex of the stick. The longer the stick is made, the softer it becomes. Conversely, the shorter a stick is cut, the stiffer it becomes. As a general rule, for every inch added to a stick subtract five from the flex scale, and for every inch cut off a stick add five to the scale. Factor the amount cut off or added to a stick when determining the proper flex.
Generally speaking, flex ratings correspond to player weight as such:
Youth (Approximately 30 flex) 0-60lbs
Junior (Approximately 50 Flex) 60-100lbs
Intermediate (60-70 flex) 100-150lbs
Senior Mid (Approximately 75 flex) 150-170lbs
Senior Regular (Approximately 85 flex) 170-200lbs
Senior Stiff (Approximately 100 flex) 200+ lbs
One last tip: when feeling the flexibility of a stick in the store, DO NOT push down on the stick with your bottom hand. No one shoots like that on the ice, and this does not help you determine if the stick is the right flex for you. Instead, put your top hand where it will be after you cut it, lock your elbow on your bottom arm, and pull the top of the stick towards your body. This simulates the shooting motion on the ice, and is a better way to determine if the stick is the proper flexibility for you.
Hope this helps! Let us know your thoughts anytime!
Hockey Skate Fitting
The hockey forums online are loaded with it. Discussions all over locker rooms. Questions in our stores. As long as hockey shall survive as a sport (forever, we obviously hope), the issue of hockey skate fitting will be riding sidecar with it. What’s the best way to fit a skate? How do you know when you’re in the right skate or have the right fit? We thought we’d ask some of our experts here at Pure Hockey – a bunch of our store managers. Their responses are detailed, helpful and if we may say so ourselves, excellent. Dig in:
Jon Stone, Manager of Pure Hockey in Berlin, MA:
Skate fitting is an imperfect science. From the retail perspective, it can be the most challenging – but also the most rewarding – part of our day here at the hockey shop. Most customers have an idea about what type of skate they are looking for and it is our job to show them how – or if -that skate will work for them. Because all skates are different, it is important to try on many of them and be open minded to the actual size of the skate. Once you have a skate on your foot, it is important to kick your foot back into the heel pocket of the skate. You will get the true feel of the length of the skate by doing this and then lacing up the skate – this will give you a good idea of where your foot will be in the boot. Just sliding on the skate and standing up may make the skate feel too short, with your toes hitting the end cap. It is important to remember when lacing up your skates that it is not as important to pull the laces tight in the lower half of the boot or the top three eyelets. It is essential to pull the laces tight through the turn or curve of the middle eyelets. This is the area that will push your foot back in the skate and help settle and keep your heel back in the heel pocket.
Trust the material of skates these days to provide you with all the ankle support you will need. Over tightening of the top eyelets or wrapping the laces around your ankle will only inhibit your forward flex and shorten your stride. Try on numerous skates and remember – your friends skate or the pair that Patrick Kane wear may not be the best skate for you. High end (read: expensive) skates are build for performance and may be too stiff for kids or smaller players to use. Talk to your local Pure Hockey skate guy about how often you skate and what type of skates you are using now. There is the “right” skate out there for every player – take the time to find your fit.
Dan Torti, Manager of Pure Hockey in Warwick, RI:
Many different thoughts go into a skate fitting. Does the person have a narrow foot, a wide foot, a flat foot, a high arch, thick ankles, narrow ankles? You need to check this out because different models and brands of skates fit differently – just like shoes. As much as a customer wants to, we avoid fitting them according to the look of the skate. We can’t stress that enough, it’s not how it looks its how the skate feels. Who cares what a skate looks like if you’re not going to be able to use it to its full potential or even wear it because you ache to much to be able to do anything in the skate.
Also, you need to take the size and weight of the individual into consideration too. Going with a lower to mid-end skate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Younger kids don’t necessarily need high-end skates. A lot of times when you go to the high end skates they get stiffer – and when a skate is stiffer it becomes much harder for them to break it in. Chances are that by the time they break it in, it’ll be time to move on to their next pair of skates because they’ve out grown their current skates already.
How much are they skating? Someone who is skating everyday for travel teams or High School and/or at an elite level may also need to go with a different model skate than that of the individual that may be skating once a week at a house or Jr. Varsity level. Mid to high-end skates tend to be a little bit more durable. A high school varsity player will want to go with the higher-end skate. It’ll take the abuse, perform well, and give them good energy release because of the lack of breaking down.
Is the individual a finesse player looking to make tight turns and cuts or is the player a power forward looking to get as much potential energy out of their stride as possible? Do they want to have a tight fit around their ankle or a less restricting fit around their ankle. I want to fit the skate as close to the individual’s actual foot size as possible. This allows for better control over their skating stride. It is not uncommon to have a skate that is 2 – 2.5 sizes smaller than an individual shoe size. For someone who isn’t going to be growing any more, the perfect fit would be to have your toes slightly brushing the toe of the skate. For a youngster you can probably get them to this point – and give them a half size bigger at the most. This will allow them a little room to grow without the skate affecting their skating ability. A skate that is too big often times will give you blisters as a result of the sloppy fit. The reason for this is if your heel lifts or your foot is moving from side to side the friction from the movement will cause irritation which will turn into a blister. A lot of people feel that this happens because a skate is too small. This is not the case and heat molding the skate will not make the skate fit tighter. This process actually breaks down the glues and materials of a skate to break down some of the stiffness of the skate speeding up the break in process.
Basically a customer should buy a skate according to the player that they are not the player that they wish they are. Do NOT buy a skate according to look, or someone else’s opinion of the skate. Look to try on various models and compare the fits. Leave the skate on and walk around for a couple minutes. Usually aching or pains of the arch or mid foot don’t happen right away. Keep the skates on so that you know whether or not you will have any problems. Make sure the skate has a tight fit and that your ankle is locked into place, but still is comfortable.
Jamie Downie, Manager of Pure Hockey in Franklin, MA:
Customers should enter a skate fitting knowing what model skate and what size they are currently wearing and if they liked or disliked the skate they are coming out of and why. If the customer liked the skate they were wearing it makes a lot of sense to stay with the same or similar. This doesn’t mean never try something new – it is just a matter of known vs unknown. Once this has been determined the measuring and fitting of skates can begin. We will measure you to determine proper size – we do this every day!
I would encourage any customers to try on a couple models of skates so there is a comparison. A proper fit will have the heel staying down in the back of the skate and toes not touching but very close to the front of the skate.
There you have it – expertise from the best in the business! Always feel free to call your local store or our customer service for additional help on skate fitting. We’re here and happy to help you make the best and most sensible hockey skate purchase you possibly can.
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