It’s 6am and we’re huddled shoulder to shoulder around the locked doors of the St. Louis test facility. Bags packed, hoodies popped and coffees in hand – we’re up before the dew has dried and we wouldn’t trade it for the world – although a few more minutes of shuteye does sound pretty good.
Our eyes grow less weary as the doors open and we’re allowed to enter. The rink is empty except for us. In between the echoes of bags dropping and sticks banging together you can hear the faint humming of the overhead lights as they warm up for the day. A light fog slowly rises from the fresh sheet of ice as the morning sun begins to peak its way through the windows. If we didn’t know better we’d think this was staged. Breathe in the chilled air. It’s a beautiful scene.
After some instructional razzing in the locker room, we quickly find ourselves gliding over the ice, new sticks in hand, and can only faintly remember how much we hated life as we rose the sun. We’re here for some testing.
Hitting Their Stride
It’s fair to say Warrior is no longer a startup in the hockey industry. The past few years we’ve privately noted a maturation of the Warrior brand that has them looking more and more like the powerhouse of innovation they aim to be.
For the 2013 model year, Warrior released three top end sticks, each with its own unique characteristics and profile. With these new product offerings fresh in our minds and their growth as the backdrop, we decided this was a good time to round up Warrior’s best top end sticks, push them to their limits and report back on where each model excelled and the type of player best suited for each.
The Challengers: Covert DT1 LT vs Covert DT1 ST vs Dynasty AX1
Released this September, the new Covert DT1 LT and DT1 ST spent most of the summer being talked or tweeted about as Warrior’s next flag ship models to which their brand would be staked. The Covert DT1 comes in two flavors: the point and shoot, quick release LT and the mid(ish)kick, heavy hitting ST. At the other end of the spectrum lies the deceptively adept Dynasty AX1. Released earlier in the year, the Dynasty AX1 marks a new bloodline for Warrior with high expectations.
At A GLANCE
Get your hands on either a DT1 LT or ST and you’ll be left with one impression: strong. Each has a solid feel that remind us of the days when sticks lasted longer than one season, to a time when you knew your hard earned cash wouldn’t be wasted on one tough slash or hard shot from the point.
For 2013, both the LT and ST feature numerous technologies aimed at improving performance and durability. From a reinforced carbon fiber weave construction that adds strength without adding weight, to a redesigned blade that’s engineered to feel more connected yet is also 40% stronger, the DT1 LT and ST are built to withstand some punishment.
Warrior is so confident in what they’ve created in the new Covert line that they’re putting their money where their mouth is. Their new Built Better Guarantee gives you 30 days to use and abuse the stick. If for any reason you’re not happy with its performance, you can return it to Warrior for a full refund. No
other manufacturer comes close to matching it.
Nowhere is the DT1’s strong design more easily visible than at the transition point where blade becomes shaft. For many sticks this section is an Achilles heel –a place weaknesses are exposed. Not so with the Covert DT1’s thanks to their reinforced taper. A quick study of this area reveals it’s one of the stick’s strongest features, engineered to deliver jarring poke checks one moment and heavy shots the next. These sticks are built to last and you can tell it from the moment you pick one up.
Don’t mistake the rugged demeanor for a lack of performance. There’s a lot to like here. The DT1 LT comes in a True-1 piece construction which means it’s made from a single mold of carbon fiber; there is no fusion point between the shaft and blade and our testers could tell immediately. The LT delivered the quickest release of the three and was given high marks for accuracy – both a result of the extremely low kick point and one piece construction. Our testers were also impressed with how quickly the stick loaded and how they could feel the energy being focused deep into the Dagger T2 taper.
The DT1 LT is a stick that rewards players who prefer to take the quick shot – the tough sniper that needs to get the puck off quickly or the rugged winger familiar with getting his nose into the dirty areas of the rink. This is a stick engineered to make scoring quicker and easier. Of the three sticks, the LT recorded the highest single wrist shot speed of 64 mph, the highest average wrist shot speed of 53.95 mph, and also tied with the AX1 for the hardest snap shot, at 55.90 mph.
Though the LT is lighter than the ST, thanks to its true one piece construction, it’s not as light as some of the top end sticks it directly competes against. For many players this is an okay tradeoff for the increased durability and solid feel offered. There is a point of diminishing returns in the race to be the lightest and certainly, the fact that it’s 3 inches longer than every primary competitor has a fair amount to do with the weight difference.
The other point our testers brought up is that the blade isn’t soft. Our testers found the LT didn’t quite want to receive the puck as much as it wanted to attack it. This strength definitely helps in areas shooting and durability, but coupled with the stiff taper and low kick point, there wasn’t much give when receiving passes.
The DT1 ST comes ready to go with the same build quality and strong feel our testers raved about in the LT, but with the unique playability of a high fused two piece construction.
As we handed out the ST’s we again heard comments of how strong they felt. During one unscripted but insightful moment, each tester began banging his stick hard on the ice as if calling for a pass. The sound was agitating but the impression was not – the ST exhibits none of the flimsy wobble or unnerving vibration that’s so common in top end sticks these days. Bang it on the ice and all you get is a solid thud as the reinforced carbon composite says hello to the cold ice.
The ST’s Hi-Fused construction means the blade and shaft are combined higher up the stick near where your lower hand resides. This gives the ST a slightly higher kick point when compared to the LT’s extremely low kick point and also means the ST is better suited for more powerful players or those more comfortable taking fuller shots.
The benefit to this approach is generally a harder and more consistent shot, as evidenced by it placing ahead of the LT in average slap shot speed at 74.50 mph. The downside is it takes a few fractions of a second longer to load. For some players though, it’s not always about getting the shot off a split second faster as much as it’s about delivering power. It doesn’t have the quick release of the LT, but it does offer a booming shot.
Our testers also found the Hi-Fused setup gave the ST a bit more of the “soft” touch the LT lacked, scoring it above the LT in the passing and stick handling tests. Even though they share the same blade, the ST’s setup seemed to be more forgiving and inspired even more confidence when pushed to its limits.
The ST also scored a minor victory in the looks department. Our testers liked the white, black and silver color scheme and felt it gave a good representation of what the modern Warrior brand stands for: confident but not overtly aggressive. To each his own, but on this day, the imposing yet quiet graphics of the ST stole the show and helped the ST take home a second place finish overall.
Debuting in early 2013, the Dynasty AX1 marked its entry into the top-end stick game with a litany of performance technologies aimed directly at the competition’s best offerings. It’s available with the same Hi Fused technology found in the DT1 ST, but opts for a true mid kick point construction, which gives it a smoother, fuller flex throughout the entire shaft.
Unique to the AX1 is Warrior’s AXY SYM technology, which our testers certainly felt it during use. This advanced technology changes the way the carbon fibers on the shaft stretch or compress when loaded. The fibers on the forehand and top of the shaft want to stretch more easily, while fibers on the backhand and bottom of the shaft want to compress more easily. This stretch and compress posture allows the AX1 to load easily and explode with consistent power, which is almost word for word how our testers reviewed it.
The combination of the mid kick point and the explosiveness of the AXYSYM technology gave the AX1 an edge in delivering the most consistently forceful shots. It recorded the highest average slap shot speed by a good margin, of 77.25 mph versus 74.50 and also touched 91 mph on the radar gun to record the hardest individual slap shot.
Our testers were also impressed with how responsive the AX1 felt regardless of the test it was performing. Whether stick handling, passing or shooting, the AX1 inspired extra confidence which explains why it was given first place ranking in all three categories.
This is a stick that rewards snipers and power forwards alike. We tend to think of it as probably the easiest stick to step into and feel familiar with - not that Warrior’s other offerings. The AX1 is just that much easier. It offers a smooth flex, hard shot and a solid feel.
Overall, Warrior has three great performing sticks on their hands. There’s something for every style of player. We’re impressed with how far they’ve come and excited about how far they can go.