Monday, March 11, 2013
Bauer Re-Akt and IMS 9.0 Helmets

By Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing

In this time when concussions, and head protection are such hot button topics not only in hockey but all sports, Bauer is pushing the envelope technologically with their new helmet models.


Bauer made a huge splash last year with the introduction of the Re-Akt helmet. Featuring the highly impact absorbent PORON XRD foam, and their SUSPEND-TECH Liner, designed to manage rotational force. Beyond the technology, the Re-Akt marked another milestone in my eyes, creating a protective, high-end helmet with that is actually comfortable, with great styling, and being low profile, and not so bulky on your head. The Re-Akt will go forward for 2013 and its shell design will be used in Bauer’s new model, the IMS 9.0.


The IMS 9.0 Helmet is a very interesting concept, it continues Bauer’s movement to integrate popular requests their pro’s make, into their retail lines.  The new V2 liner system uses the Vertex Foam, featured in the Re-Akt, as a base. Vertex Foam has enhanced impact management, while remaining significantly lighter than similar density traditional EPP foam. On top of the Vertex Foam, will be a layer of VN foam for comfort. This is a feature often seen in the NHL on other models as players look for a little extra comfort, and its now available to you.


I personally have been wearing the Re-Akt since about a month prior to its release, and I was skeptical when I first tried it but I am a huge fan now, way more comfort than I expected, but I am even more excited for the IMS 9.0, I’ve been a 4500 most of my life, love the Re-Akt, and this at first glance looks to be a nice mix of the best of both. Looks for it at Pure Hockey and PureHockey.com around mid June 2013.
 



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Friday, March 22, 2013
Easton Hockey: Invention vs. Improvement, Part I

By Kyle Stevenson

Easton’s new mantra? Invention vs. Improvement. It's that simple. On March 21, we were lucky enough to get to talk to some of Easton Hockey’s top designers, learn about their new product and then demo it out on the ice. Easton sees a hockey equipment industry that is continually taking the best selling skate or stick and saying, “what can we do to improve it or put our spin on it?” Bucking this trend, the people at Easton went back to the drawing board and built products from the ground up. Invent, don’t just improve.

This strategy is staggeringly simple, but in a way brilliant. They brought in two guys, Dave Cruikshank and Scott Bjugstad, who really know their stuff. Cruickshank is a four-time Olympic speed skater and NHL skating coach. Bjugstad is an eight-year NHL veteran (1984-1992) who played on the 1984 US Olypic hockey team and then with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota North Stars. Easton brought them on board and let them do their thing. Good move.

While most of the industry tried to continue building stiffer and stiffer skates, Cruikshank considered the mechanics of skating and built a skate around that. The goal: build a boot to do what a player needs it to do, as opposed to building a boot and trying to make it do what the company thinks it should. If you look at a particular skate model and see it tending to breakdown a certain way, or in particular spots, it shows that players are trying to naturally do something in it that the skate can’t do. Cruickshank and the design team took the three major aspects of skating - Downforce, Push Direction and Tempo. Then he built a skate around them.

The Mako Skate is designed for more feedback on the ice and better control of your skates. The CNT (Connect) Holder and runner are named for their purpose -  to connect you to the ice. At first blush, even skating on them for a short period, it is clear they do just that. My first question was this - did they widen the steel? The runner itself felt so much more stable than Easton’s previous holder, the RBII. I was assured they hadn’t and it was simply the design that helped to give a hockey player that much more stable feeling.

I’m not going to go into much depth for review – check back soon for that – as I was only on them for a quick skate, but I was amazed at how quick you could get from one edge to the other. The other thing that caught me was how low you can get on these skates when turning. You truly need to get your mind over it and keep pushing it, because you won’t believe it until it happens. You just have to trust the edges and go for it.  I kept trying to turn harder and lower, thinking I was going to slide out, but the skates kept holding up. Its honestly something you don’t believe until you try it.

Easton Mako Skates are available now right here at Pure Hockey. Check back soon for Part II, where we will go through the technology and invention of the Mako 2 stick. In the meantime, here's a video we did with Neil Wensley, Easton's Product Manager for skates, that explores the skates a little more detail. Easton is really onto something here.
 




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Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Easton Hockey: Invention vs. Improvement, Part 2

By Kyle Stevenson, Pure Hockey Marketing

After learning about and using the Mako skates during our demo day, our attention turned to the Mako II stick and more specifically, the idea behind the E28 curve. Easton brought on former NHLer and Olympian Scott Bjugstad and he looked at the way the top shooters were shooting and then he designed a stick for them where the energy loads in the shaft AND in the blade. It is designed for you to shoot off of the two, contrary to what many of us were taught coming up through the hockey ranks. The E28 is designed with a dual lie, one lie from the heel to the midpoint, creating an area to touch the ice when catching passes and handling the puck. The second lie goes out from the midpoint to the toe, with this area designed to be flat on the ice during shots.

 Shooting off of the toe has two major benefits. The first is power based off of the puck position. Think of a diving board - the closer to the end you hit to jump, the higher it sends you flying. Shooting a puck works in a similar vein. The second benefit is control. The less the puck moves on the blade as you shoot, the more accurate it is, the more powerful it is and the puck is more likely going to do what you intend and expect it to. Shooting by rolling the puck from your heel is giving away control as you shoot, as well as being a much slower release.

Another great benefit of this curve and stick is that is helps young players learn to shoot. How? The first time any little player has someone on their team able to lift the puck up, they want to do it too, no matter what. This leads to them picking up bad habits just so they can lift the puck, even if it means they are flipping it not actually shooting. With this E28 pattern, if a young player tries that, what will happen is that the puck is pretty much going nowhere, forcing them to shoot the correct way and it improves their shot in general.

A lot of worry with this technique is this: will a blade hold up with this kind of stress on it? Easton designed the stick with this shooting style in mind. Instead of continuing to design the blade from the heel out, they built it from the toe back in. This keeps the toe and the blade in general from softening and it increases the sticks consistency over its life. Time will tell on that part.

Overall, Easton hockey is doing some incredibly innovative stuff, I highly recommend getting out and seeing both the Mako Skates and the Mako II Stick and see for yourself.
 

 


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Sunday, March 17, 2013
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