How to Buy Hockey Goalie Sticks
Here is some advice from HockeyGiant.com on how to buy Goalie Sticks
Choosing the proper goalie stick is an important decision because it will affect your stance, puckhandling abilities and, to a certain degree, your mobility. Like players' sticks, goalie sticks are constructed with several, varying characteristics which include Lie, Curve Type, Curve Depth, Face Angle and Paddle Length (not applicable to players' sticks). In addition to these various attributes, different construction materials such as wood, fiberglass and carbon composite are used to make goalie sticks, with each material offering slightly different performance benefits and results. Understanding the differences between each of these options will help you decide which goalie stick will work best for you.
Composite Goalie Hockey Sticks
Composite sticks are made with materials such as carbon fiber and graphite, which are usually lighter and, in some cases, more durable than wood goalie sticks. Composite goalie sticks aren't really affected by water the way that wood sticks are.
Wood Goalie Hockey Sticks
Goalie sticks made with wood offer the best overall "puck feel", in the opinion of most goaltenders. Wood absorbs shock a little better than composite materials, making it easier to control the puck after making a stick save. Wood blades, apart from their high susceptibility to water damage, are often just a bit stronger and more resilient than composite sticks. Depending on how much you're willing to spend, you can find wood sticks that compete with or completely outperform many composite sticks.
Foam Core Blades
Some wood goalie sticks and most composite goalie sticks have foam-injected blades that are able to absorb a greater amount of shock than solid wood and solid composite blades. Without a foam core, most graphite and carbon fiber blades feel dead when you're handling the puck. The foam core makes a composite blade feel a bit more like a wood blade, and it makes a wood blade feel even better than a solid wood blade. That being said, foam core blades are not a "cure-all" solution to the common weight-feel-durability issues. In the end, it all comes down to material quality – you get what you pay for.
Goalie Stick Attribute Options
Goalie sticks, like players' sticks, come with different blade patterns to choose from. In addition to curve type, depth, lie and face angle, goalie sticks have varying paddle lengths. Each of these attributes ought to be considered carefully when you're choosing the stick that will work best for you. Apart from paddle length, which is more of a size-related measurement than the others, the options available to choose from are almost completely preference-driven, but will certainly have a noticeable impact on the way you play the puck.
Regular vs. Full Right Goalie Sticks
The handedness of a goaltender is either Regular or Full Right, and this classification is determined by the hand upon which the catcher is worn. Regular goalies wear the catching glove on the left hand and the blocker on the right hand. Regular goalie sticks are held in the right hand and are curved like left handed players sticks. Full right goalies wear the catcher on the right hand and the blocker on the left hand. Full right goalie sticks are held in the left hand and are curved like right handed players sticks. Simply put, Regular goalie sticks are held in the right hand, and Full Right goalie sticks are held in the left hand.
Lie is a measurement used to represent the angle of the paddle and blade of a goalie stick. This number is usually 11 or 12 with youth and junior sticks, and 13-15 for intermediate and senior sticks. If you are short or have a low stance, you ought to use a lower lie so that the blade rests flat on the ice. If you are tall or have an upright stance, you ought to use a higher lie so that the blade rests flat on the ice. The higher the lie, the more the stick looks like the letter 'L'. Paddle length also has an effect on blade lie, but we'll discuss that later.
Curve Type & Depth
Goalie sticks aren't offered in quite as many varying curve types as player sticks. Typically, manufacturers produce a couple heel curve options and a couple mid curve options, differing slightly in depth. If you have a strong tendency to play the puck, then you will probably benefit from using a deeper curve, which will allow you to lift the puck more easily. Straighter blades may allow you to stop and settle the puck with greater predictability.
Blade Face Angle
Face angle affects the trajectory of the puck when you pass it. A closed face angle will allow you to keep the puck lower to the ice when you pass it and may also help you keep the puck on the ice and control it when you stop a shot. An open face angle will allow you to lift the puck with greater ease when you make a pass or clear the puck out of your zone.
From manufacturer to manufacturer, paddle length measurements are often fairly inconsistent. Typically, the paddle is measured from the point on the shaft where the paddle begins down to the underside of the blade heel. But, unfortunately each manufacturer does it just a little bit differently. In any case, the paddle length must be taken into consideration when you're choosing a stick. The longer your paddle is the higher up you will have to lift your arm in order to keep the blade flat on the ice, and vice versa. If your paddle is too long, you'll have to lift your blocker arm up higher than you probably ought to. If your paddle is too short, you'll have to lower your arm more than you ought to in order to keep your blade flat on the ice. Lifting or lowering your blocker arm in order to compensate for improper paddle length causes your blocker to be moved out of position. This is why the lie and paddle length go hand in hand.
Appropriate paddle length is determined by the height and stance of the goaltender. A tall, upright goaltender around the height of 6'3" will use a longer paddle, perhaps 27" or 28" long. A shorter, low-crouching adult goalie around the height of 5'5" is likely to use a 25" or 26" paddle. But, your height alone isn't usually enough information to make a good, accurate decision for paddle length. It's a good starting point, but ultimately you'll only be able to get a perfect fit by holding the stick in your hand while you're standing in the crouched, ready position.
How Much Should I Spend On a Goalie Stick?
Deciding how much to spend on a goalie stick is a fairly simple matter. The real questions ought to be, "What's the difference between a $40 dollar stick and a $240 dollar stick?" and, "What price range is appropriate for my level of play?"
Most goalie sticks under $100 are made with wood and fiberglass, which are perfectly appropriate materials for goalie sticks. Wood and fiberglass materials are much cheaper for manufacturers because they are heavier and often less pliable than graphite and carbon fiber composite sticks. Sticks over $200 are almost invariably composite sticks made with the highest quality materials available. The lower the price, the less carbon, graphite, Kevlar or other composite materials are used in the construction of the stick, which means that the stick is likely to be a bit heavier – although, there are exceptions. As the price increases, so does the quality of the materials being used. It's really that simple.
Sometimes, you'll also find that more expensive sticks will have features such as a texture grip on the handle at the top of the paddle, in addition to a fancy paint job and a cleaner overall finish. Goalie sticks aren't very complicated pieces of equipment, so you won't necessarily find many "special features" on a goalie stick like you would with a pair of ice hockey skates, for example. It's all about material quality.
Spend what you're comfortable spending, but do your best to choose a stick that is priced in proportion to the level of competition at which you're playing. If you're in a Tuesday night beer league, you probably don't need a $250 dollar stick. If you're playing AAA travel hockey then you're likely to benefit from using a stick that may cost well above $40 bucks.
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