Recently, I’ve found myself in a position where I was able to take a first-hand look at the upcoming Sub-Zero hockey goalie gear from Brian’s. For those of you that don’t know me, to have me speechless is pretty rare; which is the way I had initially reacted. To say it was like Christmas morning is a bit cliché but the feelings were similar, for sure. It’s funny how a set of good quality goalie gear just does that.
I’ve owned Brian’s stuff in the past. I think if you played goalie in the ‘90s you at least owned a Thief Glove at some point. Mine happened to be all white - sick, right? Since then, I've mostly dabbled in other brands, even having a small independent company custom-build me a set of pads – only to come back to some sort of Vaughn setup. I say this because for those of you that assume I'm a bit heavy on Brian's, I'd have to disagree. It only makes the following even more interesting to read- So continue.
Like most goalies, prior to seeing the gear in person I felt teased by Brian’s initial ads. This setup quickly became like a drug to me. I was hooked; they had me instantly thinking of maxing out credit cards, getting into multiple leagues, and doing whatever it takes to get them. At the same time I had also seen the video of Chris Mason explaining the new ‘Smart strap’ System and I was skeptical- so torn.
When I was introduced to the pads, they were literally thrown in my direction and in anticipation of something with significant weight behind it; I braced myself to support it. With that being said, I think I’ve held waterlogged baseballs that were heavier. Upon further inspection, I was in love. Since I had seen the video, the first thing I examined was the ‘Smart Strap System’ to see the way it was set up. With complete adjustments, I was sold. The pad in general is clean looking, comfortable and, needless to say, extremely lightweight.
To find a single break pad right out of the box with that amount of flexibility was impressive in itself. They also upgraded other features like the double Velcro knee strap to keep the knee in place and avoid over-rotation. The angled toe area helps to maintain a wide stance and makes it easier to catch your edges quicker in the butterfly. Without all the leather straps, the timeframe to strap them up is reduced tremendously due to the new strapping system.
The glove is pretty sweet in and of itself and the first thing I noticed was the ‘hybrid’ type cuff. When looking into the pocket it appeared as one piece, but as I was able to take a closer look, it was actually a two piece set up - very interesting to me. My natural preference has always been a two piece, because I like the flexibility. The Sub-Zero glove gives you the best of both worlds: the consistent redirection of a one-piece, and the flexibility of a two piece. Once I got my hand in the glove, it reminded me a lot of the natural Thief break - the Sub-Zero closed with ease like it had been used for years! For more control, they’ve introduced an internal material that actually creates more grip as you sweat. My initial reaction was more disbelief than anything, but the longer I had my hand in there, the better it felt. With a single backbone pocket, it was deceivingly deep as well.
To me, blockers are usually self-explanatory and mundane. This one was different though. The binding-less blocking surface made for a larger than normal appearance. The flat designed side protection around the thumb allows it to sit flush when connecting with the pads. These features were only made better once I got my hand inside. Once strapped in, the blocker sat directly atop my hand with no rotation when I shook it. Having something that lightweight, I assumed it would have been totally out of balance and floppy, which it wasn’t at all. The Sub-Zero blocker could be one of the most balanced blockers I’ve felt in a long time. The palm and finger protection is suburb and they removed a useless pad around the thumb area, which now allows the hand to stay protected and sit comfortably and flush when holding a stick.
Brian’s Sub-Zero gear will be in stores sometime later on this month with Pure Hockey and Pure Goalie being the first retailers in the country to get them! Don’t let any other retailer fool you with pre-orders or claim they have them – Pure Hockey will be FIRST. Custom options are available as well. Be sure to check out our video with Chris Joswiak from Brian's who takes an even deeper look into the design of the gear.