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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

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

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.

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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 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:

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hockey Skating Tips from

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.

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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.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Hockey Shooting Tips from

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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