You ever met somebody with all the gear but no idea? We’ve all been there. This last post will cover a little more of the equipment used in hockey.
When it comes to sticks, they’re customised too. Some prefer longer, some shorter. There are official limits in the NHL, although some exceptions are made e.g. Zdeno Chara has special permission for his stick length. Some players prefer straight blades whereas others prefer a curve. There’s also a personal preference for the amount of lie in the stick – the lie determines how much of the blade will come in contact with the ice. Then there’s the colour of the tape; black is often used because it hides the puck better.
Traditionally, sticks have been made from wood – specifically rock elm – but due to Dutch elm disease, it has become a scarcer resource. White ash has been used as an alternative by manufacturers but it’s less study than elm. However, as technology has adapted, newer materials have crept into the world of hockey. It’s common to see sticks made from aluminium or carbon-graphite, and these types provide a lot of strength but weigh less than wood.
What the Puck?
That poor phrase has been used to death and I’m ashamed to be a part of that.
In the earliest hockey times, a ball was used, but in 1860 in Kingston Harbour, Ontario, a puck was used for the first time – allegedly. Nowadays, the puck is primarily made from rubber, but it’s one of the most elastic substances in existence, so it is compounded with other materials to strengthen it and reduce elasticity. The standard puck is 1 inch thick and 3 inches in diameter.
Prior to use, pucks are frozen to reduce bouncing. During a period, as the puck is moved and passed around the rink, it increases in temperature This increased heat energy leads to the puck bouncing more. Pucks reach speeds of 100mph in a game.
Whilst the standard puck is 6 ounces, lighter pucks (4 ounces) can be used for younger players, or heavier ones (10 ounces) can be used for developing shot strength or stick handling. To increase wrist strength, steel pucks can even be used and these weigh around 2 pounds. White pucks can be used for goalie training to improve reactions.
Goalie’s can wear around 50 pounds of gear when they’re on the ice. If you’ve got a Shea Weber slapshot coming at you then you’re gonna need all of it.
The Stick: These are usually made from wood and have a curve to play the puck as well as stop or deflect it.
The Pads: In the past, the pads were made from leather but these absorbed sweat and water making them heavy. Now, they’re constructed from synthetic materials that provide strength, but are far lighter and less absorbent so the goalie can move faster.
The Mask: Goalie masks are made from fiberglass and/or Kevlar – the same material used for bulletproof vests. For top level goalies, a plaster mould is made of the player’s head to ensure the mask fits perfectly. The masks are also personalised with decorations.