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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Forechecking and Backchecking: Techniques and Strategies

Forechecking and backchecking serve the same purpose, which is to create turnovers and gain possession of the puck. They should be viewed as parts of the same strategic system, rather than as completely separate parts of the game. Transitions from forechecking to backchecking and from backchecking to forechecking are fairly seamless, and the labels are more or less a reference to the directional flow of the play, as well as the part of the ice and manner in which pressure is being applied. As you forecheck, the other team will attempt to move the puck out of their zone and up the ice. As they advance up-ice toward your zone, the transition from forechecking to backchecking occurs with backside pressure being applied to your opponents as you chase them back toward your end.


Forechecking


Forechecking is defined as defensive pressure applied in the offensive zone with the intent of creating a turnover. Typically, forwards do most of the forechecking by pressuring the opposing team’s defensemen and forwards as they attempt to break out of their own zone. Forechecking is performed with the use of several different techniques and strategies.


Forechecking Techniques


Some of the techniques used when forechecking include body checking, stick checking, sweep checking, poke checking, and just about every other form of checking that you can think of. Depending on the abilities of the individuals who are forechecking, different checking techniques are employed with varying degrees of effectiveness. Bigger players are more likely to body check their opponents in order to create turnovers, while smaller players may find that stick-checking techniques work more effectively for them than body checking.


Forechecking Strategies


Different strategies are also employed, such as a 2-1-2 forecheck, 1-2-2 forecheck, 2-2-1 forecheck, etc. The order of the numbers in each system refer to the number of players applying pressure, the number of players supporting the forechecker(s), and the number of players taking a defensive position at the rear of the formation. As an example, the 1-2-2 forecheck has 1 player applying direct pressure, 2 players supporting the forechecker, and 2 players in the defensive position closer to their end of the ice.


Backchecking


Backchecking is defined as defensive pressure applied in the defensive and neutral zones with the intent of creating a turnover. When you give chase to your opponents as you rush back to defend your own zone, you’re backchecking. Like forechecking, backchecking is performed with the use of several different techniques and strategies.


Backchecking Techniques


Whether you’re forechecking or backchecking, the same techniques are often used in order to create turnovers. Since you’re usually behind your opponents as you chase them toward your end of the ice, it’s important to keep control of your stick and avoid using it in ways that will cause you to be penalized. Stick-checking is usually the most effective technique when you’re on the backcheck, attempting to take the puck away from your opponent. But if you get careless with your stick and hook, trip, slash, or high-stick your opponent, you’ll end up in the box pretty quickly. The best way to avoid penalties is to keep your stick down and keep your feet moving. Try to catch up to your opponent and then get yourself into a strong defensive position, and don’t get lazy or you’ll end up in the box for foolish penalties.


Backchecking Strategies


There are several backchecking systems that are commonly used. The left wing lock and neutral zone trap are probably the two that you’ve heard mentioned most often, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the most commonly employed strategies. There are many ways to backcheck effectively, and the method used by your team will depend on the skill level of the players and the overall strategy of the coaching staff.








The quick definition of the left wing lock is as follows: when the puck is turned over, your left winger jumps back alongside the defensemen near the red line and each one covers a third of the ice while the center and right wing apply pressure to the opposing team’s players from the blue line in.
The quick definition of the neutral zone trap is as follows: when the puck is turned over, both defensemen drop back near your blue line and two of your team’s forwards drop back near the neutral zone faceoff dots to clog the neutral zone, while the last forward applies forechecking pressure in the offensive and neutral zones to force a turnover.


The backchecking sytem used by your team is dependent upon the forechecking system being used. If your team is running a 1-2-2 forecheck, you could say that they’re also running what could be called a 1-2-2 backcheck. As the puck is brought out of your opponent’s zone through the neutral zone into your zone, your players, still in the 1-2-2 formation, must quickly prepare themselves to defend against the oncoming attackers.


It’s important to man up on the backcheck and keep your head on a swivel so that none of the opposing team’s players are left unguarded as they enter your zone. Communication and awareness are the keys to playing great defense. If one of your opponents is open and uncovered, make sure you communicate with your line-mates and figure out who is responsible for covering him.


Hard Work Pays Off


Now that you’re familiar with the basics of backchecking and forechecking strategies and techniques, you should be well equipped to contribute to your team in a very important way. Backchecking and forechecking aren’t the most glorious parts of the game, but they’re essential to the success of every team. When your team works hard at both ends of the ice, you’ll be sure to win more games – and your goalie will most certainly appreciate the help.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fisticuffs – A Closer Look At Hockey Fights

"Are hockey fights really necessary?"... "What's the point?"... "How can you condone the same type of behavior on the ice that you would be arrested for off the ice?"... If you’re a hockey player, fan, or both, I’m sure that you’ve heard these questions before. Maybe you’ve asked yourself the very same questions. So, how do you respond when you’re confronted by someone who sees hockey fights, or perhaps, even the very sport of hockey as nothing more than barbarians with clubs and blades?



The Roots of Fighting in Hockey

Fisticuffs have been a part of North American hockey since the first leagues were formed in the late 1800’s / early 1900’s. In those days, there weren’t any half-skilled, one dimensional “enforcers” or “goons” taking up roster spots; that trend arose in the 1970’s and thrived in the 1980’s. When the sport of ice hockey was still young, in the pre-expansion era, securing a roster spot on a professional team was no simple task; it was a cut-throat competition that kept every player on his toes, ready to fight for his right to play.

Pride and honor are far too lofty for the hearts of the weak. Desperation and hunger fueled the fire in every player who earned his right to step onto the ice. The game was rough and raw, and the stakes were always high. If you’re a hockey player, you know exactly what I’m talking about. When it’s game time, nothing else matters. And when every player has that mindset, there are bound to be altercations.

As I said before, in the early years goons didn’t make the cut because they didn’t have the skills to compete. So who was dropping the gloves? When someone was fed up with the cheap shots being dished out by an opposing player, they slugged it out and reestablished the terms of engagement. The ref simply can’t and won’t see every stick in the gut or chop on the laces. So if someone was bustin’ your chops, you squared up, dropped the mitts and let him know that you weren’t gonna take it.

“The Code”

It may seem primitive, but what the casual observer doesn’t recognize is that there are several, unspoken, but clearly understood rules that the players subject themselves to when it’s time to dance. “The code” is what keeps a fight from turning into an assault. A few of the fundamental rules would include the prohibition of hair-pulling, eye-gauging, fish-hooking, punching your opponent when he’s down, and many others.

In addition to these seemingly obvious lines in the sand, it’s important to understand that fights rarely break out without a verbal agreement between the players beforehand. This is the first and most important rule. To give a loose analogy, imagine that you’re asking a girl to join you for a dance. If she says no, would you grab her by the arm and drag her out onto the dance floor as she kicks and screams trying to break free? Absolutely not – you would lose the respect of the girl and everyone else who witnessed the incident.

Such is the case when you’re playing hockey and your opponent is primed for a beating. Unless he consents, you do NOT engage. There are many reasons why a player may choose to decline, and that’s his prerogative. Maybe he’s playing with an injury, or his coach has given him specific instructions not to fight in that particular game. If you ask, you might even get a legitimate answer. Or he might just be scared. Whatever the case, no one has the right to assault an unsuspecting player.

Hockey Fights in the 21st Century

Hockey has evolved quite a bit since its humble beginnings. Some changes have been for good, others have not. We all have our own opinions on the subject. With these changes to the rules, equipment, and the overall style of play, fighting has also evolved. Players are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before. In fact, the average NHL player today is about 2” taller than the average player in the 1920’s. Modern training methods have also increased the skill level and overall athleticism of the 21st century athlete.

The game has certainly evolved over the last century, but the sole purpose of hockey fights has remained the same – regulation of the players by the players. Now, we can’t be na├»ve and pretend that fighting isn’t also used as a means of intimidation, swinging the pendulum of momentum in your team’s favor, settling personal vendettas, and pure entertainment value. Those are the natural byproducts of fighting, but at the core we can clearly see that fighting is a way for the players to keep one another in check and protect the scorers, danglers and playmakers who are often the targets of the opposition.

Critics of Hockey Fights



I think we can all agree that it’s a sad sight to see a player fall to the ice unconscious, bloodied, and broken. There’s still something inside us, or at least some of us, that enjoys the raw carnage. But, once again, that’s simply a perverse byproduct of fighting in hockey, and it shouldn’t be dismissed as we consider the motives behind fighting in hockey. Unfortunately, there are goons out there who are hell-bent on breaking the bodies of their opponents. Many critics are quick to point the finger at the men with no mitts, but I would propose that in most cases, the biggest goons on the ice are the hackers, choppers, and ‘bow-throwers – not just the fighters. They’re quick to target the goaltender and they’ll bend the rules when no one is looking, just to piss off you and your ‘mates.

Anyone who spends much of their time watching or playing ice hockey knows that goons don’t target other goons – they go after the star players. They agitate, frustrate, intimidate, and do whatever else they can to get a scorer off his game. If a player is being targeted by an opposing player, it’s the responsibility of the referees to make an assessment of the methods being used and then determine whether or not to penalize the player(s) in question. If the referee fails to handle the situation, the enforcer gets a tap on the shoulder, makes his way onto the ice and confronts the offender. The goon knew all along that his time was coming, so he graciously receives his beating and serves his 5 minutes along with the player who was assigned to the task of restoring civility. Problem solved – in most cases.

Of course, there are times when a player involved in an altercation is injured. Sometimes the injuries are quite severe. Take the Colton Orr vs. Todd Fedoruk fight shown in the video above. Fedoruk is an agitator. As the announcers stated, in the previous meeting between the two teams he was running around hitting everything that moved, wreaking havoc on the ice. So, Colton Orr was sent out to deal with the situation. The result was unfortunate. Fedoruk was knocked unconscious and consequently missed several months of action. It happens, but not much. When it does, we all have the same gut reaction. Does that mean that fighting should be banned? In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, these isolated incidents do not warrant a full-scale ban on an integral part of our game. The majority of hockey fans and players agree that fighting should remain, while those of the general population seem to think they know better.

The Heart of the Fight

I suppose it begs the question, can the anti-fighting proponents see things from a less biased perspective, or are they speaking out of ignorance? And, are we truly holding on to this sacred part of our game for the right reasons? It’s worth thinking about, and I would recommend that you examine your heart and mind on the issue. Our goal ought to be to provide an entertaining game which appeals to as many people as possible. If fighting is the only reason that a fan comes to a hockey game, God bless him, but he’s missing the mark. Most of us love a good scrap, but our sport has so much more to offer.

I still believe that fighting has its place in our game, and I think it always will. But, as a community of fans and players, we need to make sure that the spotlight stays focused on the playmakers, goal scorers, danglers, and soft-handed toe-draggers, not the bare-knuckle boxers. Every player has an important role on his team, but KO’s don’t win games, goals do.

Let’s do our best to remember why we picked up our first hockey stick as a child.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hockey Giant Now Carrying Warrior Hockey Gear

Warrior Hockey Logo

Hockey Giant is pleased to announce that we are now carrying Warrior hockey gear! Over the last few years Warrior has grown exponentially to become one of the most popular hockey brands on the market. Many of our customers are already familiar with Warrior products and have often wondered why we weren't carrying any of their gear. Well, we've been paying close attention to what our customers have been saying, and the time came to open up negotiations between the two companies. Needless to say, Hockey Giant is now a licensed Warrior dealer, and we couldn't be more thrilled. From a customer satisfaction standpoint and business perspective, it's a win-win situation.

Warrior hockey gear has quickly become quite reputable among hockey players of all age groups. With highly customized products made from only the best materials available, incredibly progressive product testing methods and edgy marketing campaigns, Warrior's quick rise to notoriety in the hockey world has been unprecedented. Warrior understands that hockey players will only play with the highest quality gear available, and they've gone to great lengths in order to ensure that every product they manufacture employs the most cutting-edge technology.

Warrior began as a lacrosse company in the early 90's. Their dominant presence in the lacrosse world carried over to the hockey market in 2005 when they acquired Innovative, a very successful hockey stick manufacturer in their own right. Warrior wasted no time and almost immediately had their Dolomite, amongst other sticks, in the hands of NHL players, such as Alexei Kovalev & Kris Draper. In the last few years they've successfully worked with many high profile NHL players including Ilya Kovalchuk, Chris Pronger, Thomas Vanek, Brian Gionta, Anze Kopitar, Mike Modano, and Nicklas Lidstrom.

As their reputation grew, Warrior began manufacturing protective gear for players and goalies as well. Warrior has experienced an undeniable degree of success with every stride they've taken, branching out into each major equipment category, including hockey gloves, shin guards, shoulder pads, elbow pads, pants, catchers, blockers, leg pads, and more. Warrior isn't in the business of "following trends" - they're setting new standards for the hockey equipment market.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lines, D-Pairs, Shifts, and Line Changes

Lines and D-Pairs

First, let's define a line. In ice hockey, there are forward lines and defensive pairs. A forward line consists of 3 players; centerman, left winger, and right winger. A defensive line/pair consists of one left defenseman and one right defenseman. Most of the time, when a player or coach says "line", he's referring to the forwards. "D-pair" (defensive pair) and "defensive unit" are usually the terms used to refer to a defensive line.

Roster Configurations

A full roster is traditionally composed of 4 forward lines (12 players) and 3 D-pairs (6 players). Depending on the philosophical team strategy of the coaching staff and the players who are available on the roster, you may occasionally come across a team that dresses 7 defensemen and 11 forwards. In fact, the St. Louis Blues have been using the 7-11 design for their last few games, and it’s proven to be quite effective. But, the 12-F 6-D roster is still most commonly employed.

Shifts

Now that we know what a line is we can talk about shifts. When you’re out on the ice you’re taking a shift. Your shift is basically just your turn to go out on the ice and play. A typical shift is 45 seconds to 1 minute long. Sometimes your shifts will be shorter or longer than average, for various reasons. You may get double-shifted from time to time, which means that you’ll stay on the ice for two consecutive shifts before coming to the bench to rest. This often happens when a team is missing a couple players from the roster, or when a key faceoff needs to be won and the team’s best centerman is already on the ice from his previous shift. These and other similar situations will inevitably arise and you’ll become more familiar with the strategies that are used to address them as they come up.

Unfortunately, sometimes you’ll get short-shifted because the player you’re waiting to sub in for, on the line ahead of you, is taking a longer shift than he ought to. Everyone gets short-shifted from time to time because of penalties, stoppages in play, and player matchups.

Part of being a team player is making a conscious effort to take shifts that are the proper length, as defined by your coach. And no, I'm not appealing to the "feel-good" crowd who places a greater emphasis on sharing, caring and "fairness" than they place on winning as a team. Rather, my point is directed at the players who come off when they feel like it, instead of following the system laid out by the team's coaching staff. Your coach may decide to play one of his defensemen for literally half of the game while he puts another defenseman in only once or twice each period. Usually, the coach has good reasons for doing the things he does. So, if you're the guy riding the pine, don't just sit there and complain - study the players who are getting significant ice time and try to figure out how to make yourself as valuable to your coach as they are.

Line Changes

We’ve covered lines and shifts already, so line changes should be fairly self-explanatory. But for the sake of being thorough, we’ll define line changes and discuss some of the nuances that persist. Line changes occur when the players on the ice come to the bench to be replaced by another line of well-rested players. In most cases, forward lines are assembled before the game and are defined as Line 1, 2, 3 and 4. Usually, defensive pairs are also determined before the game. Youth teams and less competitive adult teams usually run 4 lines all game. As you get older and play on more highly competitive teams, there’s a greater likelihood that your shift frequency will change based on the line that you’ve been assigned to.

Your coach will simply call out your line’s number or your centerman’s last name when your shift is up: "Line 2" or "Stastny line", for instance. You’ll hear terms like "change em up", "full change", "change up front", "change the D", and "on the fly". These are terms that you’ll become familiar with fairly quickly.


  • Change em Up – A line change should be made

  • Full Change – All players on the ice are replaced

  • Change Up Front –The forward line is replaced

  • Change The D – The defensemen are replaced

  • Changing on the Fly – A line change made during the play, rather than during a stoppage of play


Making Good Line Changes

Ice hockey is a team sport, which means that every move you make affects the team. Making good line changes is a crucial aspect of team performance. To give an example, just imagine that your team has possession of the puck in the other team’s defensive zone, and you’ve all been on the ice for a fairly long shift. One of your players turns the puck over to one of the players on the other team and a breakout ensues. At this point, one of your defensemen decides he needs to rest, so he skates to the bench to make a change. This means that you only have 1 defenseman back to defend against the rush, creating a dangerous odd-man situation. This is a bad change. It’s bad enough that you’re tired from the long shift, but now you’re also momentarily shorthanded.

The best time to make a line change is when your team has possession of the puck entering the offensive zone. If you have possession in the neutral zone and you’re near the end of a shift, but you don’t have the energy to make an offensive play, just get to the red line and dump the puck into the other team’s zone and then quickly skate to the bench. Short shifts are always better than long shifts. Staying on the ice for a long shift will wear you down and make you virtually useless anyway, so it’s best to take shorter shifts so that you can avoid getting caught on a long, tiring shift stuck in your defensive zone.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Crossover Sports for Ice Hockey Players

Ice hockey is a very unique sport – especially when it’s compared to the other 3 professional team sports in North America (Baseball; Basketball; Football). Each of these sports have many things in common, but there are many things that set ice hockey apart from the rest.



  1. Hockey is played on an ice surface rather than a field or court

  2. Hockey players wear skates rather than cleats or shoes

  3. Hockey is played with a goaltender to defend the net

  4. Hockey is played with sticks and pucks rather than bats and balls

  5. Player substitutions are often made on the fly

  6. Transitions from offense to defense occur continuously without any stoppage of play

  7. Every whistle and stoppage of play requires a faceoff

  8. When an infraction occurs, the referee assesses a penalty which puts the team of the offending player shorthanded for the duration of the penalty

  9. There are no shot clocks or limitations on possession time


The list goes on, but you get the point. Despite all of these differences, as a hockey player you should recognize that in order to reach your full potential on the ice you should engage yourself in other sports. Playing other sports will help you develop your hand-eye coordination, keep you in shape, strengthen different muscle groups, improve your mental awareness, and you’ll be far less likely to get burned out on hockey. The key is to keep yourself involved in activities that will challenge you and help you grow as an athlete. That could mean swimming, running, golfing, or hunting – just stay active.


One of the best crossover sports for hockey players is lacrosse. Lacrosse is becoming more and more popular every year, and as a hockey player you’ll find that the transition is fairly seamless. Just like hockey, lacrosse is a fast-paced sport that requires quick decisions, great mental awareness, pinpoint passing skills, and the willingness to sacrifice your body in order to make a play. Lacrosse is a very physical sport and most leagues are full contact, so you have to keep your head on a swivel and be able to make plays without missing a stride. Playing lacrosse will help you develop soft hands for hockey, too. Lacrosse sticks are made with a webbed head on the end which is used to cradle the ball. Learning to cradle the ball well will drastically improve your puckhandling skills – so, even if you aren’t playing in a lacrosse league, a lacrosse stick would be a great training tool for any hockey player.


If you keep an open mind about playing other sports in addition to hockey, you’ll be amazed by the growth you experience when you step back onto the ice. The difference between good athletes and great athletes is that great athletes are incredibly versatile and well-rounded.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cascade M11 Helmet Review - "The Messier Project"

Cascade M11 Hockey Helmet

When you’re looking for a hockey helmet, 3 factors play a major role in your decision; comfort, weight and protection. The Cascade M11 Helmet meets all three criterions with virtual impeccability. Known as the Messier Project, former NHL player and recent Hall of Fame inductee Mark Messier assembled a team of researchers and hockey experts to design a hockey helmet that would revolutionize head protection. The end result was the production of the Cascade M11 helmet, which meets and exceeds all of the rigorous protection standards for certification by HECC (Hockey Equipment Certification Council) and CSA (Canadian Standards Association).


M11 Ratchet System


Cascade M11 - Ratchet System

Hockey helmets have come a long way in recent years with the implementation of high tech foams, tool-free adjustment mechanisms, and lightweight materials. Rest assured, the Cascade M11 is composed of the highest quality materials and the best technology available. One of the coolest features of the M11 helmet is the ratchet adjustment system which allows you to quickly and easily secure the helmet below the occipital lobe for a comfortable, snug fit. Adjustments can be made on the fly with a couple quick clicks of the ratchet. This design feature is incredibly convenient and easy to use.


M11 Seven Technology


Cascade’s proprietary Seven Technology offers incredible protection without sacrificing even the slightest amount of comfort. The liner compresses to absorb shock upon impact and immediately resets to its original form once the energy is dispersed. The materials are incredibly resilient and the revolutionary design is built to handle multiple impacts with better results than the standard EPP foam used in most helmets.







Cascade M11 - Seven TechnologyCascade M11 Helmet - Seven Technology


Cascade M11 – Head Protection At Its Best


Not only does the M11 provide a great fit, superior protection and excellent ventilation, the shell design is cutting edge and is offered in 225 unique color combinations. The Cascade M11 helmet was built to address every player’s need for protection, comfort, fit, and style – The Messier Project was an absolute success.


Buy the Cascade M11 Hockey Helmet at HockeyGiant.com

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Easton Stealth S19 Z-Shock Helmet Review

Easton S19 Hockey Helmet at HockeyGiant.com

With every passing season, manufacturers somehow manage to produce lighter and lighter gear to meet the needs of players at the highest levels of competition. In recent years, the focus has been on skates and sticks, with breakthrough products such as the Bauer Supreme TotalOne Skates and CCM U+ Crazy Light Stick. 2010 marks the year that Easton produced the lightest high-performance hockey helmet ever made: The Easton Stealth S19 Z-Shock Hockey Helmet. Weighing in at less than 350 grams, the S19 helmet is nearly 1/2 the weight of most other high performance hockey helmets, putting it in a class of its own.

Easton was able to accomplish this lightweight design by implementing several subtle changes to the traditional design. First, Easton eliminated a large amount of excess shell material with their "Monocoque" construction, a one-piece shell design which enabled them to pad the helmet with more EPP foam while streamlining the contour of the shell. Traditional helmets are constructed with two separate shell pieces which can be compressed and elongated to make size adjustments; the S19 Z-Shock is a one-piece design so the adjustment mechanism is an internal band which operates the same way as the adjustment strap on a baseball hat (pictured below).

Easton S19 Z-Shock Helmet Acu-Snap

With as much EPP foam as they were able to stuff into the S19 Helmet, you'd assume that comfort would be compromised for the sake of protection – not so. The S19 Z-Shock is lined with comfortable, antimicrobial pads that are strategically placed to provide a soft, snug fit. Minimizing the amount of hardware used was also one of the keys to constructing the lightest helmet possible. The one piece design required no adjustment screws and the ear pieces were attached flush to the edges of the earholes on the helmet to further reduce material overlap.

Every feature of the S19 helmet combines the innovative technology of Bell Sports with the well crafted touch of Easton's hockey engineers. The result: "The Next Big Thing"... the Easton S19 Z-Shock Helmet.

Buy the Easton S19 Z-Shock Helmet at HockeyGiant.com

Friday, August 13, 2010

Inline Hockey Wheels: What is a Durometer Rating?

Labeda Addiction Inline Wheels

Inline hockey wheels are available in many variations according to size, color, bearing type and durometer. Durometer is a numerical expression which indicates the hardness of a wheel. The lower the number, the softer the wheel. The higher the number, the harder the wheel. Durometer ratings for inline hockey wheels range from 74A to 84A, although there are some wheels offered above and below this range. Durometer ratings are used to help you find the wheels that will offer the proper amount of surface grip and durability. If you're interested in reading a technical explanation of durometer ratings and how they're determined, read the following article: "Shore (Durometer) Hardness Test"

Once again, a lower durometer rating (i.e. 74A) indicates a softer wheel with more surface grip and a higher durometer rating (i.e. 84A) indicates a harder, more durable wheel with less surface grip. The reason that wheels with a lower durometer rating have a tackier grip texture than high durometer wheels is to compensate for the slick surface upon which soft, low durometer wheels are used. Sport court is a relatively smooth, slick surface made of plastic/rubber tiles, and usually 74A and 76A wheels are the best choice. Outdoor wheels with 82A or 84A durometer do not have as much grip texture because outdoor surfaces like asphalt provide plenty of grit and texture on their own, which is countered by the hardness of outdoor wheels, making them more durable and practical for that specific application.

It’s also very important to consider the weight of the skater using the wheels. Although a heavy player may be able to get away with using a soft wheel on a smooth surface without having a completely adverse effect on the durability, the wheels may feel like flat tires, which drastically affects performance. If too much weight is being absorbed by the wheels then they will compress too much to hold their form. It's all about finding the perfect balance of durability, grip and rigidity. Below is a general breakdown of the intended use for inline hockey wheels in each durometer class.


  • 72A (XX-Soft) – This is an unconventionally soft durometer. These inline wheels should only be used on an indoor, sport court surface by a skater who weighs 150 lbs or less.

  • 74A (X-Soft) – This is a commonly used durometer by players under 190 lbs on an indoor sport court surface. Players under 130 lbs should be able to use 74A inline wheels on a smooth, wood surface without wearing them out too quickly.

  • 76A (Soft) – This is probably the most commonly used durometer. Players weighing 210 lbs or less can use this type of inline wheel on an indoor sport court surface without experiencing much of the “flat tire” effect. Players who are 140 lbs or less can pretty safely use this type of inline wheel on a wood surface as well.

  • 78A (Multi-surface) – Inline wheels with a rating of 78A are typically referred to as multi-surface wheels because they are hard enough to handle sealed cement and wood surfaces while still maintaining enough grip to be used on a sport court surface with relatively good results. Players in the 190-250 lb range can effectively use this type of wheel on an indoor sport court surface. Skaters in the range of 150-220 lbs can pretty safely use this type of wheel on a wood surface. Players under 200 lbs ought to be able to use this durometer on a very smooth, painted concrete surface without severely decreasing the life of the wheels.

  • 80A (Multi-surface) – An 80A inline wheel can still be considered a multi-surface wheel but of course it will have less grip than a 78A. This type of wheel is not highly recommended for use on a sport court surface. It is best suited for wood surfaces, in any weight class. On a sealed cement surface this durometer will hold up well, but is probably going to be a bit too hard to grip the surface as well as a 78A wheel.

  • 82A (Outdoor) – An inline wheel with an 82A durometer is hard enough to be used on unsealed sidewalk cement, and it should hold up fairly well on asphalt for players under 180 lbs. It can be used on a sealed cement surface as well, but there will likely be substandard results due to the lack of grip provided by such a wheel as hard as this.

  • 84A (Outdoor/Asphalt) – This is just about the hardest inline hockey wheel you will find. It is absolutely an outdoor wheel intended specifically for sidewalk concrete or asphalt surfaces. Skaters of any size can use this type of wheel on a blacktop or asphalt surface with favorable results. This type of wheel is not recommended for smooth, sealed concrete surfaces. It is best suited for street hockey on asphalt and gritty concrete.


Buy inline hockey wheels at HockeyGiant.com

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Combat Hockey Sticks - High Caliber Performance

When a hockey player grabs a stick from the rack, leans on it to give it a good bend, peers down the shaft like it's the scope of a rifle, and taps the heel of the blade on the ground beneath, what exactly is he looking for? "Feel"... If it doesn't feel right, he ain't buyin' it. Of course, the feel of the stick is just one aspect of its "personality". 'Where's the kick-point?', 'How quickly does it load and release?' and 'Is it gonna break on the 31st day?'... These are all questions that every player asks himself when considering his next weapon of choice.

There are many sticks on the market that offer just about everything you could ever ask for - things that players never even dreamed of 10 years ago. But at what cost? Here's where the Ballistik/Combat sticks take the cake. Combat may be a new name to you, but they've been around for a good while, making top-notch baseball bats and softball gear. They've been manufacturing hockey sticks since 1994, most recently under the name Ballistik, which has now been replaced with the Combat name. These guys have been around since the pre-OPS days, developing their stick technology right alongside the big names we're all so used to seeing, like Easton, Bauer, CCM, Sherwood and Reebok.

I recently had the pleasure of trying out the Combat 45 Caliber Hockey Stick, 100 flex (MC Curve - Modano). At the list price of $134.99 you'll have a tough time finding another stick that weighs less than 470 grams — and to top it off, the 45 Cal is a TRUE one piece composite. In fact, every Combat stick down to the 22 Caliber is a TRUE one-piece. No other manufacturer can say that their price-point sticks are true OPS's, but Combat can. And I'll tell you something else — the 45 Caliber performs like a $180 stick from almost any other manufacturer. With a mid to low-mid kick point, the 45 Cal delivered a lightning-quick release on my snapshot and booming power on my slappers. The feel of the stick was fantastic. It has sort of a square/rounded edge hybrid feel, so you get a good grip on the stick without sacrificing comfort and playability. The walls are slightly concave, but not overwhelmingly so. After just an hour out on the ice, I couldn't believe the amount of punch that the 45 Caliber delivered for such a low price.


Combat 45 Caliber Hockey Stick on HockeyGiant.com


Make no mistake about it, Combat sticks are high quality, top notch twigs that perform with the best of the best, and they're incredibly durable & resilient. I would highly recommend that you take a chance—nay, seize the opportunity, to experience the superior performance of Combat hockey sticks. Combat offers their sticks in 7 versatile patterns, based on the most popular curves on the market. So you shouldn't have any trouble finding a pattern that suits your needs.


Combat Hockey Stick Blade Pattern Chart


At HockeyGiant.com, we've got you covered with the 52 Caliber, 45 Caliber, 22 Caliber and 12 Caliber Combat one-piece composite hockey sticks in the most popular blade patterns. We also offer the Combat 52 Caliber, 45 Caliber and 22 Caliber standard hosel composite hockey shafts for the guys who prefer the two-piece twig. At such great prices, what are you waiting for?

Buy Combat Hockey Sticks at HockeyGiant.com

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kamazu Hockey Jerseys - A New Name In The Game








If you're looking for an affordable, high-quality, solid color or NHL team color practice jersey, there's a new name in the game: Kamazu. Hockey players aren't the pickiest athletes in the world when it comes to "fashionable" gear, but we certainly don't pick our battle armor indiscriminantly. Nobody wants to step on the ice looking like a bender, so all of us (or most of us) make sure to suit up with the best of what's around.



Kamazu hockey jerseys are constructed with the player in mind. They offer a slick look, a comfortable fit, excellent breathability, and a wide variety of color options. The best part, Kamazu jerseys are ridiculously affordable. If you're a pickup player, pond hockey king, beer-leaguer, or a coach on a tight budget looking for a great deal on a set of jerseys for your team, the Kamazu jerseys make an excellent pick.

It's always good to have options, and Kamazu delivers the goods with the Kamazu Flexx Lite Team Jerseys in 10 NHL team color options in Senior sizes Small through XXL plus goalie cut, and the Kamazu Classic Practice Hockey Jerseys in 13 solid colors offered in Junior and Senior sizes, also available in goalie cut.

Kamazu also makes high quality performance apparel shirts. The shirts come in 4 colors – black, navy, red, and white. Made with 100% polyester, the Kamazu performance shirts are lightweight, breathable and moisture-wicking to keep you comfortable and dry. Did we mention that they're also incredibly affordable?

What more could you possibly ask for? A team sale discount? You've got it. 8 or more jerseys on an order is all it takes to qualify for a team sale. Call for details at 1-800-633-5999 and hit extension 5, or simply ask to speak to someone in team sales once you've been connected with one of our customer service reps. Grab 'em before it's too late!

Buy Kamazu Hockey Jerseys at HockeyGiant.com

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quick Tips For Improving Your Puck Handling Skills

Q: How do I improve my puck handling skills?

A: Puck handing skills can be improved by practicing puck handling drills, using training pucks and experimenting with different blade patterns until you find the one that works best for you. It’s also important to strengthen your forearms and hands with workout routines that target the muscles which are used in puck handling.

One of the most popular puck handling drills is the figure 8. You can place two small cones, your gloves or other stationary objects on the ground and stickhandle around the objects. Make a habit of keeping your head up while you handle the puck so that you are able to protect yourself during a game when other players are lining you up for a hit. When you’re practicing any puck handling drill it is important to focus on moving the puck in a fluid motion that requires the smallest amount possible of forehand to backhand puck movement. Having good hands doesn’t mean that you can simply move the puck back and forth at 100 miles per hour – it means that you’re able to maintain complete control of the puck without over-handling it. Quick, soft hands are better than quick, choppy hands.


Figure 8 Puck Handling Drill

Use weighted pucks and stick weights while practicing and you’ll notice a drastic difference in the ease with which you are able to deke and dangle while using a regulation puck during a game. Keep in mind that muscle memory is a huge part of performing any athletic maneuver, so after training with a weighted puck you’ll need to give your muscles time to adjust to the weight of a regulation hockey puck before you start playing in a game.


10 Oz. Weighted Training Hockey Puck

You can relate it to the way that your legs feel when you’ve been running on a treadmill and then you step off of the treadmill and begin to walk on the ground again – you feel like the ground can’t keep up with your legs. Similarly, the puck will feel much lighter as you’re handling it and at first it may feel a bit awkward because your muscles are anticipating more weight resistance from the puck. But, eventually your muscles readjust and you’re able to handle the puck with greater control and precision because less effort is required due to the decrease in weight.

Another way to improve your puckhandling skills is to explore different blade pattern options. Blade patterns are available in many variations and the differences are evident in the way that you are able to handle the puck with each different pattern. Make sure you experiment with many different types before settling on one or another. And keep in mind that each blade pattern offers a different set of puck handling pros and cons. Some blades offer great forehand puck protection; others will improve your toe drag; some will cause the puck to rest on your heel while others cause it to settle on the middle or toe of the blade. All of these options are available to you so that you are able to enhance your game as an individual with a unique skill set and playing style.

Buy Hockey Training Tools at HockeyGiant.com

Friday, June 4, 2010

One-Piece vs Two-Piece Hockey Sticks

Many people ask the question, "Are one piece sticks better than two piece sticks?" The short answer is that from a technological standpoint, yes, OPS's are "better" than two piece hockey sticks. These days, everyone is looking to get their hands on the lightest gear available, and hockey sticks are leading the way in the race toward weightless equipment. A lighter stick means less energy and strength required for the player to shoot, pass and handle the puck. This translates to harder shots, quicker hands and greater energy conservation throughout the game.

In addition to the decreased weight of an OPS, the design also provides a more consistent feel throughout the shaft and blade because the vibrations are not interrupted by the material barrier present with the conjoining of a shaft and blade. Traditional one piece wood sticks still provide, arguably, the best overall feel because of the excellent vibration properties of wood. But, composite OPS's are a close second to wood sticks.

Another benefit of the one piece design is the increased shot power and quicker release generated by the low kick point at the blade/shaft hosel part of the stick, which is not as effectively accomplished with the two piece design because of the overlap of blade and shaft materials. Manufacturers are able to increase flexibility near the crook of the shaft while increasing stiffness in the blade and upper portion of the shaft, which enables the shooter to flex the shaft right above the blade. A low kick-point is particularly effective for generating quick, powerful, accurate snapshots.

The benefit of using a two piece shaft and blade combo is that you are able to replace the blade when it breaks and continue using the shaft which remains intact. Also, you are able to mix and match shafts and blades to create combinations that are unique and otherwise unavailable in OPS form as offered by the manufacturers. This is especially beneficial to players who prefer the feel of wood blades but would also like to benefit from the rigidity, consistency and lightweight materials of composite shafts.

Most NHL players now use one piece composite hockey sticks but there are still many who prefer to use two piece hockey sticks. All things considered, it boils down to a matter of personal preference.

Buy One Piece Composite Hockey Sticks at HockeyGiant.com

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hockey Equipment Sizing: Youth, Junior, Intermediate & Senior... What do they mean?

The terms youth, junior, intermediate and senior are used to identify 4 distinct, hockey equipment age-group size ranges. These size categories are based on height, weight, waist size and chest size, as well as age and other applicable dimensions. The terms are used for the sake of general age group sizing. Toddler/Tyke sizing is also one of the age groups that you will find listed in apparel and goalie equipment, but it's not quite as common as the others. Generally speaking, here's how the age group sizes are broken down:

  • Toddler/Tyke (2-4 years old)
  • Youth (3-8 years old)
  • Junior (7-13 years old)
  • Intermediate (12-14 years old)
  • Senior (14+ years old)

Depending on which piece of equipment you're dealing with, the terms may have slightly different definitions. For instance, typically, protective gear (elbow pads, shin guards, etc.) is only made in youth, junior and senior sizes. So in this instance, "intermediate" sizes are accounted for by the extension of senior sizes downward and junior sizes upward (i.e. Senior small or x-small & Junior large or x-large). Sticks, on the other hand, are made in youth, junior, intermediate and senior sizes. Goalie equipment, more specifically goalie leg pads and sticks, is produced more frequently in all 5 size ranges due to the extremely precise measurements used for goalie equipment sizing.

Of course, in order to provide a proper and precise fit, each of these age group size ranges are broken down into more specific sizes, whether small through large (etc.), or in the case of sticks, 40 to 110 flex. In order to disambiguate these terms we'll define each of their applications more clearly.

Hockey Protective Gear

Protective gear is sometimes offered in intermediate sizes, although it is rare because the intermediate size range is narrow enough to be encompassed by senior and junior sizes instead, as previously mentioned. Also, player's protective gear is not typically offered in toddler/tyke sizes because most children do not start playing hockey until they are at least 3 years old, in which case they can wear youth equipment. Here are the general dimension ranges encompassed by each age-group size. (Senior size range is represented here by the minimum dimensions – i.e. Senior X-Small – on upward.)

Hockey Equipment Sizing Age Groups
  Age (yrs) Height (ft) Weight (lbs) Waist (in) Chest (in)
Youth 3 - 8 3'0" - 4'8" 35 - 75 18" - 24" 20" - 28"
Junior 7 - 13 4'2" - 5'4" 60 - 120 22" - 30" 25" - 35"
Senior 14+ 5'2"+ 115+ 28"+ 34"+

As you can see, these ranges are relatively broad, so they are broken down into about 3 to 5 specific sizes, such as Junior X-Small through X-Large, or Senior Small through Large, and so on. Sometimes, manufacturers produce more size options for a particular model than they do for another. That being said, it's very important to look at the sizing chart for each specific model. For instance, one pair of Senior Large ice hockey pants from a model offered in Small, Medium and Large may be a slightly different size than a pair of Senior Large pants from a model offered in X-Small, Small, Medium, Large and X-Large. Basically, as the size range becomes broader or narrower it may affect the measurements of each specific size within the range. Always check the sizing charts when you're ordering protective gear.

Hockey Sticks

Hockey sticks are usually offered in youth, junior, intermediate and senior sizes. Not only are the sticks different lengths, they also differ in diameter and flexibility. The difference in shaft diameter is slight, but noticeable, and corresponds to the average hand size of the players in each age group. Shaft length increases by about 3-4" as you move up from one age group to the next (i.e. Youth=48" – Junior=52"). Hockey shaft flexibility is measured by the amount of force (in lbs) required in order to flex the shaft 1" in the center.

Here's a general breakdown of hockey stick shaft flexibility, length and age group sizing:

Hockey Stick Flex/Length Chart
Age Group Height Weight Recommended Shaft Flex Stick Length
Youth (3-5) 3'0"-3'10" 30-65 lbs 35 Flex 38-44"
Youth (6-8) 3'10"-4'8" 50-80 lbs 40/45 Flex 45-49"
Junior (7-13) 4'4"-5'1" 70-110 lbs 50/55 Flex 50-54"
Intermediate (11-14) 4'11"-5'4" 95-125 lbs 60 Flex 55-58"
Intermediate (12-14) 5'2"-5'8" 100-140 lbs 65/70 (Light Flex) 55-58"
Senior (14+) 5'5"-5'10" 125-175 lbs 75/80 (Mid Flex) 57-61"
Senior (14+) 5'7"-6'1" 150-200 lbs 85/90 (Regular Flex) 58-62"
Senior (14+) 5'10"-6'4" 180-235 lbs 100/105 (Stiff Flex) 60-63"
Senior (14+) 6'1+ 210+ 110/115 (X-Stiff Flex) 60-63"

Hockey Apparel

Sizing can be a bit confusing when it comes to apparel. The biggest problem is that each manufacturer seems to be operating on a different set of sizing standards. Meaning, CCM Senior Large t-shirts are not exactly the same size as Bauer Senior Large t-shirts. In addition, the terms "boy's", "children's", "youth", and "junior" are often used interchangeably. But, sometimes they are used concurrently, identifying separate and distinct size ranges.

Most commonly, "junior" and "youth" are used interchangeably in apparel sizing, but there are instances, as rare as they may be, where youth sizes are smaller than junior sizes. The same can be said of "boy's" and "children's" sizes. As always, it's best to refer to the specific sizing charts that pertain to the products you're ordering, rather than simply hoping for any kind of consistency from one item to the next.


Hockey Equipment Sizing Chart at HockeyGiant.com

Here are some links to sizing charts provided by the major manufacturers of hockey equipment as well as some general sizing charts provided by Hockey Giant.

Brand-Specific Hockey Equipment Sizing Guides

General Hockey Equipment Sizing Guides

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bauer 9900 Hockey Helmet Review

Bauer 9900 Hockey Helmet on HockeyGiant.com

Bauer hockey helmets have been the most popular choice of NHL players for quite some time, thanks to the slick look, comfortable fit and superior protection offered by their buckets. The Bauer 9900 Hockey Helmet meets and exceeds the expectations and standards that have been set by the many players who turn to Bauer for all of their protective needs.

The Bauer 9500 Hockey Helmet was the predecessor to the 9900 and some players felt that the fit was a bit too shallow and failed to accommodate a wide variety of head shapes... That, and any other apparent shortcomings present with the 9500 have been resolved with the 9900. We'll take a closer look at some of the special features and technological improvements of the Bauer 9900 Helmet.

As previously stated, probably the biggest complaint about the 9500 helmet was that some players felt the helmet was too shallow and did not cover enough of the forehead, resting awkwardly on top of the head. Of course, for many players it offered a great fit, but there were many who had an issue with the fit. Well, Bauer went back to the drawing board and found a way to optimize the fit of the 9900 helmet by slightly reshaping the contours of the padding without having to restructure the outer shell of the helmet.

I've been wearing a Bauer 4000 helmet (now called 4500) for the last 11 years and I'm not likely to replace it any time soon. But I've tried every Bauer helmet from the 3500, to the 5100, 5500, 8500 and 9500, and I was one of the people who just couldn't get a comfortable fit out of the 9500. The features were incredible, but it just didn't sit right on my dome. When I tried on the 9900 there was an immediate and noticeable difference in the overall fit. It was snug, secure and rested comfortably on my head, offering perfectly centered, mid-profile forehead protection. In fact, everyone who I've spoken with who had an issue with the fit of the 9500 has attested to the definite improvement in the overall fit of the 9900.

With that issue addressed and out of the way, the Bauer 9900 helmet offers some impressive features that need to be highlighted. The first and perhaps most notable technological improvement that contributes to the superior protective quality of the 9900 is the use of a new type of lightweight, shock absorbing foam called Poron. The foam is incredibly effective at absorbing and more importantly, containing the shock of impact. Many foams are effective for their absorption properties but the ability of the Poron to contain rather than transfer the shock is unparalleled.
Bauer 9900 Helmet Poron Foam

As shown in the image above, the Poron foam is sandwiched between high density FXPP foam and soft comfort foam, providing a dynamic combination of protective and comfort-fit foams. The FXPP foam, which was also used in the 9500, is an improvement upon the high impact EPP foam that is currently used in many other high quality hockey helmets and bike helmets. According to Bauer, the FXPP foam "dissipates 20% less energy during impact than same volume of traditional EPP foam".

Bauer firmly believes in the integrity of the 2 piece outer shell design that has been used for many years now. Adjusting the length of the 9900 helmet is as simple as flipping up the two side tabs with the Bauer logo on them and pulling the two shell pieces apart to the desired length, providing quick, tool-free adjustability. The occipital lock located on the back base of the helmet provides an even more customizable fit that secures the helmet in place with the adjustment of two dials that are moved back and forth individually. The dials control the position of the two internal pads located below the occipital lobe which can be tightened with just a couple quick clicks.

The helmet shell is constructed with dual-density materials which provide a combination of tough, rigid protection (glossy part of the shell) and self-adjusting flex zones (brushed, muted part of shell) for an extremely comfortable and protective fit. The two-tone design adds a slick look to the shell with 10+ options to choose from.

Without a doubt, the Bauer 9900 Helmet retains all of the best qualities offered by the 9500 and has been beefed up and enhanced in all of the areas that were previously lacking. Bauer helmets continue to be the most commonly worn in the NHL, and their reputation for consistently producing high-quality gear is furthered by the introduction of their most recent protective achievement, the Bauer 9900 Hockey Helmet.


Buy the Bauer 9900 Hockey Helmet at HockeyGiant.com

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How To Choose A Hockey Stick Blade Pattern

Bauer P88 Kane Curve; Bauer P88 Blade; Bauer Lindros Curve; Bauer P88 Lindros Curve; Bauer Kane Stick Curve; P88 Bauer Curve; Bauer P88 Hockey Stick Blade Pattern; Mid Curve

Here are some of the questions about hockey stick curves or "blade patterns" that we hear pretty frequently:


- What type of curve should I use?
- Which curve works best for slap shots?
- Which curve works best for wrist shots?
- How do I choose a blade pattern?
- What is the "lie" of a hockey stick blade?

In this article, we'll try to answer these and other questions about how to choose a hockey stick curve that will work best for you.

Picking a blade pattern for your hockey stick is one of the most personal choices you’ll make as a hockey player. It’s important to be familiar with your options and be willing to try several patterns before settling on your pick.

Blade patterns/curves are identified by the manufacturers with NHL player names (i.e. Cammalleri - Easton) as well as pattern codes (i.e. P88 - Bauer) which combine several variable attributes to create a unique curve. We'll discuss these attributes in greater detail later on.


Starting Point for Picking a Blade Pattern

There are a few things for you, as a hockey player, to identify before choosing a blade pattern for your hockey stick:


  1. Your position – based on which position you play, you’ll spend more time occupying specific parts of the ice, and you’ll therefore be required to make certain stick handling maneuvers more often than others.

  2. Your shooting tendencies – as a shooter, you are likely to be more skilled at taking certain types of shots over others and you may therefore choose to take more of the shots that you’re comfortable with. But, the position you play also has an effect on the types of shots that you will be more inclined to take.

  3. Your puck handling skills – each player has a different skill set when it comes to puck handling. Some players will dangle more often than other players who choose to keep it simple when they’re handling the puck. It’s always best to keep things as simple as possible, but based on the types of moves you tend to make, you’ll want to target the blade pattern features that will enhance your game.


Hockey Blade Attributes

There are about 5 key attributes to factor in when choosing a blade pattern:


  1. Curve type – There are basically 3 curve types (heel, mid & toe) that you can find in conjunction with the other blade pattern attributes listed below. It’s pretty straight forward, so when you see a heel curve this means that the curve of the blade is concentrated and begins at the heel as opposed to starting towards the middle or toe of the blade. In other words, this defines the "breaking point" of the curve.

  2. Curve depth – The depth refers to the degree of the curve, whether it’s slight, moderate or deep. Curve depth is measured in inches, usually ranging from about 3/8" to 3/4".

  3. Face angle – Face angle is best understood by looking at the concept behind a set of golf clubs. A closed-face angle hockey blade would be like a 1 Iron, whereas an open-face angle blade is equivalent to something like a pitching wedge. The range is anywhere from closed face (cups over the top of the puck) to open wedge (angled back away from the puck). Most blades on the market are slightly open.

  4. Length – The blade length is exactly what the description annotates (short, medium or long). Most blades are medium length.

  5. Lie – The lie is a representative measurement of how the blade is angled in relation to the shaft, which determines how the blade will rest on the ice. Higher lies are usually best for bigger players who skate more upright. Lower lies work better for smaller players and those who tend to skate bent over, closer to the ice. You have found the correct lie when the middle portion of the underside of your blade is resting flat on the ice, rather than resting on the heel with the toe off the ice or vice versa. Below is a diagram that visually displays the concept of blade lie.



Performance Characteristics of Different Blade Pattern Attributes

Here’s a list of some blade pattern attribute values along with the results that you can expect from each option:

Curve Type


  • Heel Curve – possible increase in wrist shot power; puck naturally rests on the heel of the blade on the forehand

  • Mid Curve – balanced results for wrist, snap and slap shots; puck naturally rests on the middle of the blade on the forehand

  • Toe Curve – quick snap shot release; puck naturally rests on the toe of the blade on the forehand


Curve Depth


  • Deep curves – great for wrist shots and puck control on the forehand; less control on the backhand

  • Slight curves – good overall wrist, slap and snap shot control and increased puck control on the backhand; shots don’t naturally rise quite as easily

  • Moderate curves – good balance of forehand and backhand puck control and shot control


Face Angle


  • Open face – easier to lift the puck on the forehand; good puck protection on backhand

  • Closed face – good for keeping your shot low to the ice; great forehand puck protection


Pick a Blade Pattern and Try It Out

Now that you’re more familiar with some of the pros and cons of the options available, pick out a couple of blades that you think would suit your style of play. Experiment with as many options as possible because you may be surprised at what you’re able to do with a curve that you’re a bit apprehensive to try.

The main points to take into consideration when picking a blade pattern are:


  • Deep, open face curves will help you lift the puck on the forehand

  • Slight, closed face curves will help you keep your shots low

  • Deep curves give you great puck control on the forehand but very little on the backhand

  • Slight curves give you balanced puck control on the forehand and backhand

  • Mid, moderate curves provide a great, balanced blend of forehand and backhand puck control

  • The type of curve you pick (heel, mid or toe) determines where the puck will naturally rest on your blade


A Few Blade Patterns You May Want to Try

This may seem like a lot to consider for such a seemingly small piece of equipment, but the hockey blade you choose is just as important as the club a golfer chooses to use each time he reaches into his bag. Don't feel "boxed in" by the info we've provided; try as many options as you possibly can because they are all valuable in different ways.

Here's a list of some popular patterns that you may want to try from some of the most well known manufacturers:


For more information and images of blade patterns from all of the major manufacturers, go to HockeyGiant.com and visit the Hockey Stick Blade Pattern Charts page. Or, click on one of the following links to see the current blade patterns from a specific brand:


Buy Hockey Sticks, Shafts & Blades at HockeyGiant.com

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hockey Skating Tips from HockeyGiant.com

In the sport of ice hockey, skating is the name of the game. So we're going to offer some insight on a few common technical flaws amongst skaters, and focus specifically on improving your stride.

Q: How do I improve my skating stride?

A: Long, powerful, smooth strides are the mark of a great skater. But many hockey players have a bit of a sloppy, choppy stride. The most common mistake that skaters make is buying into the idea that quicker feet equate to greater overall skating speed. Having quick feet is important for agility, but the fastest skaters on the ice are fast because they use proper technique when pushing off, extending their legs with each stride.

Some players are born with great natural skating ability, but most players must learn how to break the bad habits they’ve picked up and create good habits that will help them become the best skaters they can be. Here are a few common mistakes that can be corrected fairly easily once they’re identified:


  1. Wide push-off stance – many players push off from a wide stance which limits the length of their stride and in turn they are unable to generate very much power. It’s like trying to jump up in the air with straight knees rather than bending your knees, loading and thrusting upward with full force. The heels of your skates ought to be just a few inches apart as you push off with each stride – which leads us to another common mistake…

  2. Straight knees – players who properly bend their knees as they skate are able to generate much more power, have better balance and are able to perform high speed maneuvers with greater confidence and ease. Straight-legged skaters are simply lazy skaters, and lazy skaters aren’t going anywhere fast. Although it is far less common, there are some players who bend their knees a bit too much. This also causes a shorter stride, a decrease in power and accelerated muscle fatigue.

    Watch some of the fastest skaters in the NHL, like Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers or Andrew Cogliano of the Edmonton Oilers, and take note of the amount of bend in their knees when they’re in full stride. It’s not too much, not too little; just enough to keep them a stride ahead of everyone else on the ice.


  3. Forward/backward lean – this issue is cause by poor posture. Proper skating technique requires a skater’s toes, knees and shoulders to create an imaginary line that runs perpendicular to the ice. This is one of the biggest keys to being a strong, balanced, powerful skater. As soon as that imaginary line disappears, so does your balance. Without balance, it's impossible to generate a powerful stride.


Like any other skill, perfecting your skating stride takes time and practice. Every hockey player has room for improvement as a skater and there’s no doubt that skating is the quintessential ingredient for success on the ice. Even professional hockey players still have power skating coaches. So if they still feel the need to improve their skating ability then everyone else could probably use a little fine-tuning as well.

Buy Hockey Skates at HockeyGiant.com

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How to Bake Your Hockey Skates

Many ice hockey skates are now made with a special type of thermo-formable foam that responds to heat and becomes soft enough to be reshaped for a customized fit. Most hockey pro shops have a skate oven that is used to heat up the skates for about 5-10 minutes at approximately 175°, but the temperature and baking time varies from one skate model to the next.

Do I Have to Bake My Skates?

For certain skate models, baking is required, for others it is highly recommended and for most it is not absolutely necessary but may be worth doing anyhow. Hockey skates are made to be stiff and supportive but can be uncomfortable when they haven't been broken in. Baking your skates often gives you a more comfortable fit than the fit you'll experience with a pair of skates that you wear right out of the box, and baking also helps eliminate some of the initial pressure points that exist with a new pair of skates. Break-in time varies from model to model, but typically takes between 6 and 10 hours of hard skating.

Can I Use My Kitchen Oven to Bake My Skates?

Baking your hockey skates in your home oven is not recommended because the skates can be damaged if they are improperly baked. It's always best to have the skates baked in a skate oven at a hockey pro shop. Also, the manufacturer's warranty is often void if the skates are baked in your home oven.

If you don't have access to a hockey pro shop with a skate oven then a hair blow dryer works fairly well and provides a safe alternative. Just point it into the boot on low heat for 10-12 minutes and the materials should become warm enough to do the trick. Be very careful when you're lacing up your skates because when the materials are warm the eyelets can become strained and may even pop out if you pull too hard. Pull the laces outward as you tighten rather than upward. After you've tightened the skates, stay seated for about 40 minutes so the materials have a chance to cool down. It's also best to wait about 24 hours after baking before you skate to allow the materials to harden and set.

Does Every Skate Model Respond Differently to Baking?

High end models, such as the Bauer Vapor APX Skates and CCM U+ Crazy Light Skates should always be baked for the best fit because the quarter package of elite models such as these is very rigid and somewhat unforgiving in the absence of baking. Mid level skates should be baked as well, but it's not absolutely necessary as the boots are typically a bit softer. Introductory level skates have a softer shell and usually do not have the same type of thermo-formable foam padding which is used in mid and high level skates, so they do not need to be baked because they are easier to break in the old fashioned way.

Buy Hockey Skates at HockeyGiant.com

Monday, May 3, 2010

Hockey Shooting Tips from HockeyGiant.com

Shooting is one of the most important skills that a hockey player possesses; or doesn't possess. If you feel like you've got some room for improvement in the shooting department then take a look through some of these tips and suggestions about how to increase your shooting ability.

Q: How do I take a wrist shot?

A: When you’re taking a wrist shot the puck should rest on the heel of your blade and roll from heel to toe as you're releasing your shot. Your weight should be resting on your back foot as you're loading and transferred to your front foot as your shot is released. Following through on your shot by pointing to your target as you release your shot will greatly improve your accuracy.

Q: How do I take a snap shot?

A: Snap shots are known as the option between slap shots and wrist shots because the puck is slapped but with only a small amount of wind up. There are basically two ways to take a snap shot: 1) Lift your blade off of the ice about 6-12” away from the puck, strike the puck and follow through to take a “mini slap shot” of sorts. 2) With the puck resting on the toe of your blade, rotate the stick with your wrists so that the heel is lifted off the ice as your toe cradles the puck and then quickly snap your wrists to rotate your heel back to the ice and release the shot from the mid-toe of your blade.

The second method takes a bit more time to master because you have to develop strength and quickness in the forearm muscles that are used when performing the shot. But it is the best shot option when you need to release the puck quickly and powerfully, so it is a very important skill to develop.

Q: How do I take a slap shot?

A: For most players, the slap shot is the hardest shot in their repertoire but also their most inaccurate. There are a few common mistakes that many players make when taking a slap shot.

Common mistakes:


  1. A huge wind up – lifting your stick so that the shaft is almost perpendicular to the ice (≈ 150°) is as high as you need to go when winding up for a slap shot. Any higher than that is simply a waste of energy, and a costly waste of time, which is often limited when you’re trying to get a shot off before the defenders are able to steal the puck or block the shooting lane.

  2. Blade/ice/puck contact point – when your blade approaches the ice to slap the puck, it should first strike the ice approximately 1-3 inches behind the puck before making contact with the puck. This is a skill that takes practice, but it’s an important key to generating maximum shot power. When the blade makes contact with the ice the shaft flexes and loads. As the blade approaches the puck, the shaft whips forward and propels the puck with greater force. Players call this “making the stick do the work for you”.

  3. Hand placement on the shaft – players commonly place their bottom hand too low or too high on the shaft while taking a slap shot. An important technological aspect to understand about hockey sticks is that they have varying “kick points”. Hockey sticks have a low or mid kick point, which denotes the point on the shaft that flexes when pressure is applied. If your bottom hand is too high the shaft will not flex properly and you’ll generate very little shot power. If your bottom hand is too low then you’re likely to experience a power deficit as well as a lack of shot accuracy.


The best way to improve your shot is to simply practice. Don't just shoot aimlessly though – make sure that you're shooting to score every time. Pick corners, aim for the inner edges of the posts, practice shooting from tough angles on the sides of the net and release the puck as quickly as possible. Have someone pass to you so that you're forced to settle the puck quickly before releasing your shot. Accuracy and shot power are very important, but a quick release will catch the goalie by surprise, so make sure you spend time practicing shot quickness.

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Friday, April 30, 2010

Bauer Supreme TOTAL ONE Hockey Skates Review

Bauer continues to push the hockey skate market with breakthrough technology and innovation. The new Bauer Supreme TOTAL ONE Skates are fully loaded with every feature at Bauer’s disposal. Leading up to the release of Bauer’s 2010 Supreme line there was plenty of hype surrounding the TOTAL ONE’s, but there were also many skeptics who had a hard time justifying the projected $800 price tag. For anyone who has had the opportunity to skate with them, or simply try them on in the store, the question is no longer “Why would I spend $800 on skates?” but instead “What should I cut out of my budget this month so I can grab a pair?”

If you haven't had a chance to try them on yet, I'd highly recommend grabbing a pair ASAP. But in the meantime, I'll go ahead and lay it out on paper for you. The big question is "What makes the TOTAL ONE better than its predecessor, the Supreme ONE95?" First off, at 695 grams in size 8 the TOTAL ONE skates are lighter than the ONE95's which were well over 700 grams. The Anaform boot is constructed with a lightweight, Alive composite quarter which is thermoformable for a great fit. The TOTAL ONE offers a superior, contoured fit which has been optimized for weight reduction, comfort and support.
Lightspeed Fusion Runners

One of the other major weight-reduction contributors was the implementation of the new Tuuk Lightspeed Fusion Runners which are 30% lighter than the Lightspeed 2.1 Power runners which were used on the ONE95 skates. The Fusion Runners are constructed with lightweight aluminum (upper portion of the runner) and high grade stainless steel which are fused together with epoxy and rivets. The breakthrough concept was first explored by CCM with the Rocket Runner and has been optimized by Bauer with their substitution of aluminum in place of the plastic which was used in the upper portion of the Rocket Runner.

Another new feature of the TOTAL ONE skates is the customizable reflex tongue. The tongue is constructed with a channel for composite inserts which provide varying degrees of stiffness to deliver maximum recoil with each stride. The inserts are available in Mid, Stiff and X-Stiff to accommodate the personal preferences and needs of each player, determined mainly by their weight and the aggressiveness of their skating style. This is a new approach to boot customization, which previously had not been placed so conveniently in the hands of consumers.
Total One Reflex Tongue Inserts

The outsole of the boot is made with texalium composite and is well ventilated with 4 strategically placed perforations in the base of the mid-foot. The boot has an incredibly comfortable interior with Hydrophobic liner that provides a secure fit with a textured grip that locks your feet in place. Another feature which provides added comfort is the comfort edge on the top portion of the quarter package. Pro players and custom skate users have been fortunate enough to enjoy this feature for quite some time, but with the TOTAL ONE it comes as a stock feature.

If you're not convinced yet, just listen to what some of the NHL's top players have to say about the Bauer TOTALONE Skates in this special feature video provided by Bauer Hockey Inc.



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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Official Launch of the HockeyGiant.com Blog

First off, welcome to the HockeyGiant.com blog. We're proud to announce the official launch of our blog, and since this is a new venture we would like to take a few moments just to bring everyone up to speed. The plan is simple: to provide an open forum for hockey players, hockey fans, hockey moms, hockey dads, hockey coaches and newcomers to the sport.

Hockey Giant is the #1 online hockey equipment source, and we hope to become the #1 source for all things hockey-related. We believe that our customers are intuitive and well-informed, and that's why we would like to encourage everyone to get involved. If you think that you have something to contribute, then by all means feel free to share your thoughts and insights.

The hockey community is tightly-knit but it's growing quickly... So in order to help you keep up with the high-speed pace, we would like to give everyone involved in the world's greatest sport an opportunity to interact, learn, teach, rant, rave and discuss the topics that are most important to them.

The HockeyGiant.com blog is a place where you can read about your favorite hockey sticks, catch up on NHL trade rumors, preview the newest hockey gear, share training tips and connect with other hockey fanatics just like you. At this point, pretty much anything even marginally relevant to hockey is fair game for discussion.