Ice Hockey Sticks
Hockey requires a lot of different equipment with the majority of that being intended for protection; however, one piece of gear with a different primary use is the hockey stick. A hockey stick is the piece of equipment that players use to shoot, pass, defend, and carry the puck.
What are ice hockey sticks used for?
The hockey stick has a long shaft that connects to a curved blade at the bottom. The stick shape vaguely resembles that of the letter "L", but the blade is not perfectly perpendicular to the shaft. Most modern hockey sticks are one-piece sticks, but some older models were two-pieces so players could create different combinations of shafts and blades. There are still a number of customizable features when it comes to one-piece sticks including shaft flexibility, blade curve size, and blade curve direction, which depends on the player's handedness.
Goalies have their own special stick where the top of the shaft is the same size, but the bottom of the shaft and the blade are wider than normal sticks. Despite their primary role being to prevent goals, many goalies can use their sticks to pass, handle the puck, and even score! In the history of the NHL, 12 different goalies have managed to score a total of 15 goals proving that goalies have to be accounted for with the puck on their stick.
Things To Consider
When looking for a hockey stick, you'll want to consider the following:
- What length do you want your stick to be?
- What flex do you want your stick to have?
- How much do you want to spend on a hockey stick?
- Do you want a wooden stick or a composite stick?
There's primarily two different types of sticks, composite and wooden, with each providing their own benefits and drawbacks that we'll look at below.
Composite shafts were introduced in the 1990's with one-piece composite sticks becoming popular in the early 2000's. Composite sticks are lighter than their wooden counterparts and allow for harder shots. Most players at the professional and collegiate level use composite sticks because it offers a similar feel to wooden sticks with more benefits. The higher quality of the composite sticks also means they come with a higher price tag.
Hockey sticks were originally made out of wood, and despite the creation of composite sticks they are still in use today. Wooden hockey sticks are heavy. That heaviness brings a sense of control when handling the puck, but it can also be much more tiring to carry on the ice. Wood is also cheaper than the materials used in composite sticks.
Hockey sticks can be made out of a number of materials that affect the weight, durability, and price.
- Carbon Fiber: Carbon fiber is made of small pieces of carbon woven together. Carbon fiber sticks are extremely light and stronger than their weight suggests; however, they are expensive and can still break quite easily.
- Fiberglass: Fiberglass is plastic reinforced with glass. It is an expensive material, but not nearly as pricey as kevlar or carbon fiber. Fiberglass is often combined with carbon fiber, which means these sticks cost less than a pure carbon fiber stick.
- Kevlar: Kevlar is an extremely light, but strong synthetic polymer that is often used in bulletproof vests and tires. Kevlar is also combined with other materials like carbon fiber when used in hockey sticks because it loses much of its strength if it gets wet. Kevlar is also expensive to produce, so kevlar hockey sticks are also expensive.
- Wood: Different trees produce woods with different characteristics. Wooden hockey sticks are heavy, which allows for better control over the puck. Wooden sticks tend to be cheap.
There are a large number of different producers of hockey sticks, but four of the most common brands are Bauer, CCM, Sher-Wood, and Warrior.
- Bauer: Bauer produces some of the most cutting-edge sticks on the market. Their sticks are usually made with a TeXtreme shaft that makes it stronger and lighter than a typical carbon fiber stick.
- CCM: CCM may be most well known for being a sponsor of NHL superstar Connor McDavid. Their sticks primarily focus on allowing greater accuracy on shots without sacrificing power by adjusting the flexpoint of the stick.
- Sher-Wood: Sher-Wood is best known for their production of wooden sticks back before composite sticks were popular. They have still developed excellent sticks that focus on a quick release and being some of the lightest sticks on the market.
- Warrior: Warrior sticks are well-known for being among the lightest and most offense-oriented, while maintaining durability.
When purchasing a hockey stick there are a number of things to consider including the durability, cost, and size.
The durability of hockey sticks is inconsistent. Most youth players can use the same stick until they grow out of it, while multiple sticks can break in the same NHL game. Sticks often break from being flexed too much, which is dependent upon the "flex" of the stick. The "flex" of the stick is how much flexibility the stick has in the shaft. Higher flex numbers mean the stick is stiffer and lower flex numbers mean the stick is more easily flexed. Sticks that flex more easily require less force to break, so getting a stick with the proper amount of flex for your size is critical to the durability of the stick.
Sticks are among the most expensive hockey equipment. The biggest factors in the cost of a stick are going to be the size, type, and brand. The smaller the stick, the cheaper it is likely going to be given the fact that it required less material to make. The composite senior sticks produced by the top brands can reach all the way up to $300+, while wooden senior sticks can be as cheap as $30-$40.
There are four primary sizes when it comes to hockey sticks: youth, junior, intermediate, and senior. The ideal stick height depends on the individual. When you are wearing your skates, the top of the shaft should line up between your chin and nose when the blade is placed on the ground. Some players prefer shorter sticks for more puck control, while others prefer longer sticks to have a wider reach and faster shots.
What are the best ice hockey sticks?
When were composite sticks first introduced?
Composite hockey sticks were effectively introduced to the game in two parts. In the 1990's composite shafts were introduced for players to start using with wooden blades. In the early 2000's, composite one piece sticks were introduced. Since then they have been the primary style of stick for upper level players. The style of stick that you choose depends on your preferences and budget because each stick comes with different customizations as well. Most high level players are going to opt for a composite stick, but even within composite sticks there are large variations in price and performance.
How much do hockey sticks cost?
Hockey sticks can cost anywhere in the range of $20-$300+ depending on the style, brand, and size of the stick that you are looking to purchase. Composite senior sticks made by the top brands all tend to be in the same high-end price range, although some of their older models are sometimes more reasonably priced. Top-end brands also don't necessarily guarantee the best performance either, as the performance of the stick is primarily dependent upon the user's comfortability with it. Wooden sticks tend to cost less because they lack composite materials that are more expensive than wood. Sticks also tend to increase in price as they increase in size.
What are the different kinds of hockey sticks?
There are two primary different types of hockey sticks, wooden and composite. Wooden sticks are considered to be more old school as the original hockey sticks were made from wood. Wooden sticks allow for easier control of the puck due to their weight. However, most serious players use composite sticks, as they are lighter, allow for harder shots, and are more customizable. Those features often come with a significantly higher price tag though.