Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category


The brand:

The Winnwell brand is a bit of a new one to us, having not really seen much of the equipment in the European hockey stores or featured much in trade shows. In the NHL, Winnwell is perhaps more known for its gloves than other visible equipment. It does manufacture shoulder pads, sticks and shin pads.

Having done a bit of research into the company, they have been around the game since forever it seems. Winnwell has a strong pedigree in manufacturing protective equipment that has been built with the pros in mind and to pro-spec. Further research shows that some of the games’ greats have worn Winnwell equipment so the brand certainly has the pedigree behind it. However, Winnwell might not have the marketing budget of some of the other big brands, but does that hinder the quality of equipment? That’s what we are going to find out.

The equipment features:

Side profile of the Winnwell Pro-Stock Elbow Pads

Side profile of the Winnwell Pro-Stock Elbow Pads

What we have been testing is the Winnwell Pro Stock elbow pads. The elbow pads, the company says, have been built to the specifications and demands of the professional player. When you look at the gear out of the box (or bag in this instance), the elbow pads definitely have an ‘old-school’ feel to them and a look and profile that is akin to the days of the good old Jofa protective. In fact if you Google Jofa 9144 Pro Stock Elbow pads, you’ll see a striking resemblance between the two.

Where most elbow pads have gone towards a more low profile look, Winnwell has provided a protective that calls back to the good old days of hockey. The shoulder cups are actually quite deep in comparison to many other elbow pads in the market. This design ensures good strong fit for the pads. However, it can be a bit of a shock depending on what you are used to wearing. If you have been wearing some of the lower profile elbow pads, the first time you wear the Winnwell product you’ll feel a bit out of sorts to begin with, but even towards the end of our first session with these pads they felt really comfortable towards the end.

The elbow pads come with Winnwell’s clean hockey technology which is designed to keep its equipment smelling fresh. After 2 months of use on the pads, there is hardly any “hockey” scent on the elbow pads.

Breaking in and fit:

Breaking the elbow pads in was a bit of a strange experience. Out of the bag the elbow pads do feel a bit stiff, which is to be expected with any new piece of equipment. On first use the pads felt extremely comfortable, but for the first 20-30 minutes of training the elbow pads felt a bit stiff which did affect shooting and puck handling a little bit. This trend lasts probably about 3-4 training sessions before you are fully accustomed to the elbow pad. But like said above, towards the end of each of the first few sessions the pads actually feel really comfortable and you hardly notice you are wearing new pads.

Sticky material on the wrist guard helps keep the pad in place

Sticky material on the wrist guard helps keep the pad in place

As mentioned the elbow cups are a bit deeper than other elbow pads, which can take a bit longer to get used to. However, what the deeper cup has resulted in is comfort and great fit. The elbow pads come with a sticky liner on the wrist that has been designed to keep the pad in place against the compression layer. Having used both T-shirt and compression long sleeve, the elbow pads do stay in place, which is a rare feat in elbow pads. Often during a game you have to fix and alter the position of your elbow pads, but the Winnwell Pro-Stock does actually stay in place relatively well.

However, the only criticism that there is to the Winnwell Pro-Stock elbow pads is that the Velcro attachment areas could be a bit bigger to ensure a tighter fit. Despite wearing the right size, there is still a little bit of slack on the bicep area of the elbow pad.

Value for money

What the Winnwell Pro-Stock elbow pad scores big on is value for money. The elbow pad provides protection that is equal to the top of the range CCM, Reebok, Bauer or Warrior gear, but at a fraction of the cost. The graphical design isn’t something that will set the world on fire, but then again the elbow pads are under your jersey, so it doesn’t matter what they look like. The main point is that they protect your elbows and bicep.

For £45 for elbow pads you cannot go wrong. Do not let the relatively low price tag of Winnwell’s equipment fool you. It does not mean that the product is bad quality or that there’s something wrong with it, far from it. We think that this piece of equipment is where price and quality meet. You are not paying over the odds for a top of the range elbow pad and it will not leave you hanging dry. The elbow pads do not rely on any gimmicks and we have been positively surprised by them.

Durability:

winnwell3As mentioned above, the Winnwell Pro-Stock elbow pad will not break the bank, but one thing that people will question is that whether a sub £50 elbow pad will actually last or if it is going to fall to pieces after a few months use. We have had these elbow pads for almost five months in active use, but during the time there have been no faults with the equipment. The straps are still where they’re supposed to be, the elastic straps have not lost any elasticity (though this will happen over time on any piece of protective).

Despite taking a few falls and purposefully elbowing plexi glass at the rink, there are no signs that the cover of the protective cup has worn.

Conclusion:

Once the elbow pads have been fully broken in, they perform really well and equally to other top of the range elbow pads. The Winnwell Pro-Stock elbow pads hark back to the era of the good Jofa equipment. The pads are relatively lightweight compared to others. In comparison, the Winnwell Pro-Stock weighs about the same as CCM U12 elbow pads, so that’s not too bad.

We’d recommend the elbow pads for both league players, as well as recreational players who are looking for good quality protection but don’t want to spend too much money. That’s not to say that this is a beer league level pad, far from it. It can cope with the demands of the professionals, but for those that want top of the range protection, why pay over the odds.

 

Pros:

  • Great value for money
  • Durable
  • Stays in place during play
  • Comfortable
  • Great ‘old school’ feel

Cons:

  • Can take a while longer to break in than others
  • Can feel a bit bulky at first few uses
  • The Velcro strap areas could be a bit longer for tighter fit in places

 


Specifications:

Model: Sher-Wood Nexon 12

Curve: PP20 (Drury), 0.5 depth, 6.5 lie, heel curve. Rounded toe (left handed)

Flex: 85

Grip surface

Where to buy: http://www.nekoti.co.uk/index.php?tracking=5125ecce37331  (see link at bottom of review for discount)

Price: from £224.58, $229, €199

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The competition for the top range stick is really raging in the hockey equipment business. CCM has its RBZ, Easton is investing in its MAKO range, Warrior has its Covert range. When we’ve been looking at the market, there is one manufacturer who hasn’t perhaps had the recognition it deserves. That’s why we are looking at the Sher-Wood Nexon 12 stick (N12). The Sher-Wood N12 is the top of the range stick in Sher-Wood’s Nexon range, which runs parallel to its True Touch range.

When looking at the product sheet for the N12, the stick is loaded with features, which we will look at later. One of the key features here is that the stick is actually a true one piece. The shaft runs all the way down to the heel of the blade. In some sticks the blade is joined to the shaft. By doing this Sher-Wood has removed some weight from the end of the stick, and has made it easier to load. This design also removes some 15-20grams of weight from the stick (according to Sher-Wood).

Features:

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The Nexon 12 offers a true one-piece construction

The N12 features – as mentioned above – a true one piece construction, combined with a 3K carbon weave which gives the stick durability and increases the loading of the stick, making it easier for you to get a shot off. The 3K carbon weave can also be found in the blade.

The stick also features strategically positioned carbon fibre from top to bottom to maximise energy return and end-to-end stability to improve the accuracy and power for your shot. The N12 also has concaved side walls which have been designed for perfect fit for the hand and has been designed with stick control in mind.

In the blade, Sher-Wood have used a light high-density foam core and have re-inforced this with 3K carbon weave, to dampen the shocks seen in hockey and improve the feel and stiffness of the sick.

 

The stick is available in black and silver (as pictured), or in black and light blue.

Feel

To be honest, when we unwrapped the N12, we were pleasantly surprised by it. It had the same, if not better feel to it than some of the other leading sticks out there. The stick we had been using more in the past was a CCM CL and the transition from the CL to the Sher-Wood N12 was seamless. The stick fits incredibly well to the hand.

It is super lightweight as well and does not lose to the big three stick manufacturers out there. However, one of the most impressive features of this stick is its balance and its feel for the puck. When you first start stick handling with the N12 you will be surprised at how well the stick feeds to your hands. If you read our review of the Sher-Wood T70 stick a while back, take the T70 and multiply the feel by about a 100. I’m not saying that the T70 is a bad stick, but the N12 is a whole different animal.

In the modern hockey stick market the biggest draw for sticks are in the weight. The N12 is extremely light weight and is therefore great for stick handling and eases the loading process of the stick. In fact the Nexon range is incredibly light throughout. The N6 feels lighter than most competitive sticks in the same price range.

Performance

The stick’s performance is has really surprised us. Personally for me, slapshot has always been a forte in the arsenal and with the N12 I often feel that I have not connected with the puck properly, but even with that, the shot is still like a bullet. What this means in terms of game play is that the windup for the slapshot isn’t a drawn out process and you are able to release your shot quicker.

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Close up shot of the impact point of a puck and a slash. Stick is still intact and has not lost any integrity in the shaft.

In fact at the start of using the stick, one of the things we were afraid to do at first was to take a big slapshot. The N12 is so light that you’re afraid to lean into your shots and use the full torque of the shaft in the fears that you’ll snap it. Let me put that fear to rest for you. The stick is durable and will be able to cope with heavy shots just as well as, if not better, than its competitors. In fact a great testament of the stick’s durability is in the fact that in game situations the our sick took a heavy slapshot onto the shaft and then later on it was victim of a vicious slash and yet there has not been any effect on the stick’s performance or integrity. The only thing that was “damaged” was the livery on the shaft.

For wrist shots the stick is similarly easy and quick to load and the shaft delivers good levels of punch to the shot. We have been using a stick with the DR curve, which is a heel curve stick with a 6.5 lie. What we noticed is that it is easy to go top shelf with the stick and providing that you take a look at where you are shooting, chances are that the puck will go there.

As a centre the stick is taking quite a beating in face off situations and we’re happy to report that it is only the livery that is slightly chipped on the livery front, which is to be expected, but the main thing is that there are no chunks or chips on the shaft meaning that the stick is durable.

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The N12 not only offers good levels of balance and performance

The Nexon 12 is highly responsive to everything. It almost has the same feel as a high quality wooden stick. Not from the weight point of view, but that it feeds extremely well to your hands and you really do feel where the puck is at all times, which is one of the essentials for a top of the range stick.

Overall, when we have spoken to other players who use the Nexon 12, the feedback has been positive. Players seem to love the responsiveness of the stick and how easy it is to load for a shot.

Conclusion:

I guess that it is no secret that I have been a fan of CCM for a long time, but the Sher-Wood N12 stick has really won me over. Sher-Wood has engineered a stick that is right up there with all the other top line sticks in terms of weight, performance and even offers some more features when compared to others. What makes the N12 an even more attractive offering is that the N12 usually retails at lower prices than the RBZ, MAKO, Covert DT1, so if you are looking for a top of the range stick that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, the Sher-Wood N12 is definitely one for you.

Pros:

* Incredibly lightweight

* Good price point for a top of the range stick

* Durability

* Feeds well to your hands, constant feel of the puck

* Easy to load for shots

Cons:

* Got a small crack on blade when another player stepped on it (did not affect performance)

That’s it, seriously, I can’t find anything to fault the stick with, which speaks volumes about its performance.

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If you want to purchase the Sher-Wood Nexon 12 stick and receive up-to 20% discount, please visit the Nekoti store. When registering an account enter virtanen (all lowercase) as your agent password and you will receive up-to 20% discount on all purchases, including the N12


Stick Specifications:

Model: T-70

Curve: PP09 (Ryan), ½” heel curve, 5.5 lie, round toe (left handed)

Flex: 85

Non grip surface

Where to buy: http://nekoti.co.uk

SherWood hockey sticks have been one of those sticks that when I was growing up, it was THE stick to have and this is going back to the days of wooden sticks. The company has been producing sticks steadily and has two ranges it now produces. There is the Nexon range of equipment and the T-range, or True Touch. We have been testing a T-70 stick from SherWood, which lands near the top range of the True Touch range, surpassed only by the T-90 in the range.

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The SherWood T-70 side profile. The markings on the shaft are due to rubbing grip wax and stick tape on it for improved grip

The stick that we tested is an 85 flex (left handed), with PP09, or the Bobby Ryan blade pattern. The stick came without grip coating, though grip versions are available. Provided to us by SherWood’s partner Nekoti Hockey, the T-70 is a stick that felt familiar to the hands out of its wrappings.

The stick weighs slightly more than some of the other manufacturers’ sticks in the market, though there is not much difference in the overall weight. When we compared the sticks’ weight against other sticks in similar range, such as the CCM U+ Pro, the T-70 weight is similar, so it gives you an idea of the type of stick we’ve got here. However, the T-70 is equally balanced throughout, meaning it doesn’t feel heavier towards the blade. The added weight in the stick is due to the materials used to make the stick a bit more durable than lighter sticks, but more about the durability a bit later on.

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The T-70 blade with Ryan curve

The blade on the T-70 has a foam core centre to it, which reduces the vibrations throughout the shaft when receiving a pass or taking a shot. Though foam core technologies are commonplace in most hockey sticks today, SherWood have engineered a stick where the foam really makes the blade more responsive. Due to the design of the blade, it feeds remarkably well to the hands and you have a good feel for the puck at all times.

When we first started to use the T-70 one thing we had to get used to was the non-grip coating on the stick. Having used grip coating for a number of years, it took a while to get used to the feel of the stick and the way it handles than normal. However, the age old trick of rubbing some stick tape or grippy wax on the shaft resolved the issue.

The Shaft:

The shaft of the stick uses a build that ensures optimal flexibility, weight and balance and provides an excellent response potential, according to SherWood’s description of the stick. How that translates on the ice is quite accurate. When we first started using the stick, we found that it was really quick to load and noticed that it somewhat improved the velocity of shots. We say somewhat as we don’t have a speed gun to measure the shots, but there is a definitive, noticeable difference in shot speed and power.

Additionally, what we usually find with new sticks is that it takes a while to get the optimum flex from the shaft, but on the first try the SherWood T-70 was quick to load. Though the flex has improved and has become more and more responsive the more we used it, the T-70 provided perhaps the quickest response on first time use than other sticks we have tested or used.

Otherwise, the shaft uses a design with rounded edges, making it feel good in the hand. The shaft’s circumference is not as big as some of the other makes like Easton S series, which for our test was great. Though the shaft’s circumference is not as big as others, it hasn’t sacrificed much in feel or  durability.

Durability

Durability of a hockey stick is perhaps one of the key considerations when buying a new stick. You want to be sure that your hard earned cash gets you a stick that does not snap on the first use and you want to be comfortable in the knowledge that the stick is capable of handling your shot selection.

The SherWood T-70 stick is quite durable thanks to the materials SherWood has used in the construction of the shaft. It has a unidirectional fiber core and combines fiberglass and carbon fiber weave in a custom blend to provide added durability. Though these materials provide extra durability in the shaft the downside is that they add in the weight of the stick. However, despite this, the stick is equally balanced, providing you with good flexibility and response potential.

The stick we have been testing has been used both in the training setting and in league level games. In games where hacking and slashing is common place, the stick has gotten a few scuff marks, but is not demonstrating any wear in the actual build of the stick, i.e. there are no chunks of the shaft or blade missing, only some paint work, which is to be expected.

The Blade:

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Curve comparison. Next to the CCM CL with 19 (Tavares) pattern. The T-70 blade is slightly shorter, but in similar specification

As said, the stick we have been using comes with the PP09 (Ryan) curve, which is a ½” heel curve blade with a 5.5 lie and round toe. Modelled after the Anaheim Ducks star, Bobby Ryan, the blade pattern is closely matched by those of CCM’s Tavares (or 19), Reeboks’ Spezza or Phaneuf (P36 or P36A), Easton’s Cammalleri/Zetterberg, or Bauer’s Staal (P91).

The transition to the blade was quite easy as the stick we previously had in use was with a CCM Tavares (19) pattern and as the image shows, there is very little in between the two. Though at the start and the first few shots with the stick did fly over the net and there was some getting used to required, the blades were quite similarly matched in terms of the pattern.

Thanks to the foam core used in the T-70 blade, the blade does feed through to the shaft really well and does what SherWood says with the description in that it reduces the vibration when taking a shot. Like mentioned the foam core in a hockey stick blade is by no means unique these days, but the way it is deployed in the shaft makes all the difference. You might remember from the Beaster stick review where we mentioned that the blade didn’t really feed through to the shaft properly, but with the T-70 there were no such issues. When you receive a pass you know that he puck is on your blade and you don’t have to spend time with your head down wondering whether or not the puck is on your blade.

In game situations:

We have now been using the stick for about a month and in game situations we have beenImage notching up points with the stick since the first game we used it in. Like mentioned the stick is durable and has withstood the toils of a hockey game really well. The stick responds well to shot selections and like mentioned the talk of shot velocity is not a lie. Specially with wrist shots, the stick is in its element, though having said that, its not a stick that is designed to snipe wristers but can also handle a heavy slap shot with ease and has helped hit the top shelf on more than one occasion both in trainings and in games.

Conclusion:

The SherWood T-70 stick is a great stick and recommended for league players, or to those who are looking for a stick that is both durable and incredibly responsive. The features set that the stick offers is closely matched by the CCM U+ Pro, but is cheaper than many of the other sticks at this range. By no means is the price a sign of a bad stick as with the SherWood T-70, you get a stick that performs equally well, if not better than some of the competing sticks in the same category. Whilst it may not come packed with all the features of the T-90, the T-70 is definitely a stick where price, durability and performance meet.

Pros:

  • Design of the shaft fits perfectly in your hand
  • Responsiveness
  • Quick load and release
  • No vibrations through the shaft
  • Good price point
  • Great balance throughout the stick

Cons:

  • Non grip coating (Only on the model we tested)
  • Heavier than some other sticks in similar range

You can buy the SherWood T-70 and other hockey gear at:

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Helmet is probably one of the most important pieces of protective equipment that a hockey player wears. Not only is a helmet responsible for protecting your head during play, but one of the other key duties it has is to allow enough air flow to ensure that the players are still able to think and perform their plays and roles effectively without overheating.

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M11 Helmet fitted with Hejduk visor. The helmet is compatible with majority of visors on the market.

Having played the game for a number of years and having worn a number of different helmets all the way from the Gretzky Jofa to the Selanne Fishbowl and beyond. Additionally, as regular readers will know, I have a history of concussions, hence making the helmet selection process a delicate and meticulous process. In the past it was all about the ‘Mirror test’ of what looked good, rather than the protective features of the helmet, but now increasingly players and manufacturers alike are paying attention to the protection from rotational forces and direct impacts to the head.

Enter Cascade Hockey’s M11 helmet. The helmet has been at the forefront of helmet technology for a couple of years now and has made a significant effort in reducing the risk of concussion in a contact sport. Though it is important to note that no helmet will protect you fully from a concussion, but the Cascade M11 has made a conscious effort to dramatically reduce the risk of one.

As a side note, Cascade Hockey was recently acquired by Bauer, but the M11 line will carry on with Mark Messier still leading the development, which should ensure further leaps and bounds in terms of R&D

The helmet itself differs from majority of the competition on the market in that the helmet shell is all one piece. The likes of Reebok, CCM, Warrior and Bauer all use two piece outer shell construction in the helmet design.  So far I’ve only come across the M11 and the Easton that rely on this design.

The single shell design distributes impact forces better than the traditional two piece shell. The only downside with the design and on the M11 is that it can look a bit bulkier than other traditional styled helmets, but it’s not in the league of bulk of the Warrior helmets.

The Fit:

When I was choosing the helmet, I tested and tried on the 11k from Reebok, The V10 from CCM (which I had previously), RE-AKT from Bauer and The E700 from Easton. However, none of the helmets were as comfortable out of the box as the M11 was.

My previous helmet was the CCM V10 and where I was looking to carry on using the model, I was sold on the M11 pretty much from the moment I fitted it on my head. As I mentioned I have had a history with concussions, so the research and technology behind it made the helmet appealing. Given that the CCM V10 helmet hasn’t really changed since it’s launch, it came down to the choice between the M11 and Bauer’s RE-AKT helmet.

Yes the RE-AKT is lighter than the M11, BUT the deciding factor, swinging it in M11’s favour was the fit of it. Even with the RE-AKT adjusted appropriately, it didn’t fit properly and the helmet still wobbled on my head if I shook my head, which was something I was looking to avoid. What I was looking from my helmet was something that stays in place and doesn’t move in case of a particularly heavy hit.

The M11’s tool free adjusting mechanism, or the ratchet system, at the back of the helmet ensures that the helmet sits properly. There is only a single mechanism used to adjust it, comparing it to the other helmets majority of helmets, bar Easton, where you have to lift up two or more flaps to adjust the helmet.

What I really like on the M11 is the adjustment coming from the back of the helmet, making it sit nice and tight on the head.

Foam wars

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The inside of the helmet and the foam. The foam ensures comfortable fit of the helmet.

The thing that really sets the M11 apart from the other helmets is the foam within the helmet. Traditionally the pro-level and high end helmets use what is called an EPP foam. EPP Foam is not by any means bad, but it does not possess the same features as the M11’s foam.  The way the foam has been designed to react to impact is to return to its original shape as fast as possible, which in turn provides better protection as the integrity of the foam has been restored a lot quicker. The foam and the cylinders that sit between the foam and the shell of the helmet have been designed to spread the force of the impact to a larger area, thus minimising the direct impact to the head.

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Under the foam you’ll find the cylinders that have been designed to return to their original shape soon from an impact. This reduces the risk of head injuries in case of multiple impacts to the same location.

The foam is definitely more comfortable than some of the other foams in helmets. The only thing I have experienced with it, which is something that has happened with every helmet, is initial headaches when first wearing the helmet on the ice. It has taken a while for the foam to adjust to the shape of my head, but it is something that I have encountered with other helmets throughout my playing days.

Customising and Fitting visors etc.

The one thing that was quite funky with the helmet was that you are able to customise the colours of the vents. At the pro shop where I got the helmet from, they offered to change the white coloured vents on my helmet to a desired colour, but I decided to stick with them as they came. Further to the point, if you are ordering the helmet directly through the Messier Project home page, you can truly customise the helmet colour and the colours of the vents.

The biggest problem I had with the helmet was installing a visor and removing the ear guards. The trouble is that some of the screws sit behind the foam and the cylinders inside the helmet, requiring a bit of handy work and in my case as I have no skill in DIY and incredibly short attention span with the screwdriver it was a bit of an up-hill battle in having the visor installed.

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The vents on the side of the helmet can be changed to fit your desired colour.

The helmet when I got it came with a cage, but the guys at my pro shop (Sportia-10), were kind enough to remove it for me.

Overall:

The M11 is a great helmet, and I would go as far as to say that it is the best helmet you have never heard about. The price point for the helmet (€149 without visor or $119 on hockey monkey/$144 regular retail price) comes in lower than the E700 or the 11k from Reebok, but is slightly more expensive than the CCM V10 helmet.

The M11 provides superior protection while providing comfort. Where it is not as light weight as my previous V10 helmet, I hardly notice the difference between the two. The M11 stays in place when being hit and does not wobble around on the head when adjusted appropriately, something that other helmets can do.

I would thoroughly recommend the helmet to anyone looking to buy a new one or look out for the M11 Pro line as an alternative.

Pros:

  • Incredible fit. Helmet does not wobble on head and sits comfortably at the desired position
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Customisable
  • Easy to adjust
  • Single shell design provides superior protection
  • SEVEN technology is a definite plus for the helmet and helps spread the force of the impact to a wider area and returns to normal shape quicker
  • Great ventilation throughout

Cons:

  • Fiddly: Some screws not easy to get to when fitting visor/cage or removing ear guards.
  • Breaking in pains
  • Heavier when compared to the Easton E700 or Bauer RE-AKT

More info and dealer locations can be found at: http://www.cascadeicehockey.com/

 


Choosing a hockey stick can be difficult at times. If you are anything like me, it can take hours and hours of trying out different sticks and checking out blade patterns. The staple of stick manufacturers that are known to all in the hockey community include the likes of CCM, Reebok, Easton, Bauer, Warrior and so on.

 

About Beaster:

Though in the recent years many new manufacturers have cropped up and began manufacturing their line of sticks to compete with the big boys. But how do we know if the sticks these ‘smaller’ players are making are any good? Well, one such company has given us a stick to test to find out just how good their wares are. The company in question is Beater Hockey, from Latvia. Latvia has produced many hockey talents, like Arturs Irbe and the late Karlis Skrastins its obvious that hockey is a big deal to Latvians. Beaster is the only manufacturer of hockey equipment from Latvia that I have heard of.

 

‘The Kings of Badassery!’ it proclaims on its website. Beaster hockey was established in 2008 and has been producing a line of sticks since then. It has grown to a global brand with dealers and distributors in Canada, USA, Germany, Slovakia, UK, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Latvia, Russia, and Kazakhstan. The full list can be found here: http://www.beasterhockey.net/#!page-7

Beaster hockey has recently also opened its own first retail store in Latvia and has also done so in the UK. The UK specific site can be found at www.hockeybeast.co.uk The site is currently being built but you can already order the RockNRolla stick from there.

 

Aesthetics & Look and feel:

The stick we are testing is Beaster’s RockNRolla range. The stick is 80 flex with MOD blade pattern and with grip surface. The stick is preferred by many KHL players and is used quite a bit by the Avangard OMSK team.

The first thing that we noticed from the stick is that it is incredibly light! Out of the wrappings, the stick weighs only 410grams, a whole 15grams lighter that the CCM CrazyLight. In fact, Beaster’s top of the range stick, the B1, weighs in at staggering 365grams. That is incredibly light for a stick!

The RockNRolla is not a mid range stick, far from it. It is one of the staples to the Beaster brand and is used by professional players across the globe. When looking at the design of the stick, Beaster have gone out to create a stick that is recognizable on the ice. The use of mirrored/reflective text for it’s own brand name and the name of the stick is recognizable off the ice. A lot of the time when looking at different stick manufacturers it is difficult to distinguish which stick the pros are using. And lets face it, the pros have a huge influence in the purchasing decision on the stick us mere mortals are buying

Durability:

One of the concerns that I had in the first instance of getting the stick in my hands was that of durability. The stick is so light that I worried whether it would be durable enough on the ice. Having said that, I had similar concerns with my CCM CrazyLight stick as well and that’s held up well.

In the hack and slash kind of environment that hockey can sometimes be the RockNRolla has held up really well. In fact you get the same durability that you would normally associate with some of the bigger and established brands in the market, so you are safe in the knowledge that your hard earned cash hasn’t gone into a stick that looks great and doesn’t last for more than a training session.

Normally with sticks the first bit that I notice wear and tear in is the blade area. It’s happened to sticks I’ve used from Easton, CCM and Reebok. The construction of the blade area on the RockNRolla is slightly different and the blade hasn’t started to come apart at the toe or at the heel. As part of the review I have been giving the stick a really rough and tumble ride to check out how well it has lasted.

The end result is that despite abusing the stick it is still in one piece. I’ve had other players slash at it during games and it has held in one piece.

Sure I haven’t gone to the lengths that ended my CCM U+ Pro stick, where I beat it against the bench in frustration and turned the stick into saw dust. But please do bare in mind that sticks do break in hockey and I’ve yet come across an indestructible stick.

Performance:

When I first got the RockNRolla it took me some time to get used to the feel of the stick, simply because I’ve been using CCM sticks for such a long time and I had to get used to the feel and contours of the shaft.

When I first used it on the ice, I had to get used to the sticks flex pattern (similar to Bauer TotalONE) as I noticed that at first my wrist shots weren’t coming off well and I couldn’t get a good enough feel for the stick. However, the more I’ve used it the better it has gotten.

With slap shots and one timers the stick is a beast of its own. I’ve noticed that my slapshots are still as heavy as with other sticks but this time there’s more control of the direction and height. The shaft is easy to load for a slapper and provides enough ‘pop’ for a one timer, without losing the feel of toughness in the shaft.

The only thing where I think the RockNRolla falls a bit behind on is the blade. I’ve been testing a MOD pattern on the stick and normally I prefer a curve similar to CCM’s Lecavalier or Thornton or Easton’s Sakic or Bauer’s Toews. The MOD pattern isn’t most ideal for me, but that is just my personal preference.

However, I think that the overall feel of the blade is not as good as it is on a CCM stick. Again this might be my long term use of CCM sticks, but with the CL I get a better feel of the puck. The RockNRolla does give you a good enough feel of the puck, but at times I found I had to pay increased attention to it and check to make sure the puck was still on the blade.

That again could be my personal preference from using a long line of CCM blades, but it is the ONLY thing I can really mark the stick down on.

Overall:

The Beaster RockNRolla is a nice piece of work. The stick looks flashy and means business. I know for many guys, buying a stick is a personal thing and there are a lot of factors that play into the decision, so it’s difficult for me to give it an overall grade apart from my own experience with it. I would thoroughly recommend the RockNRolla and would recommend that players take a look at the Beaster line of products to find a stick suitable to their needs. I think with Beaster the quality of the product and price are well matched and you are not paying for the name on the shaft or what players the company has to market it’s wares.

The RockNRolla is ideal for players who prefer lighter sticks that do not sacrifice durability and affordability. If you are still thinking about what hockey stick to ask from Santa or what stick to spend your Christmas money on, give Beaster a serious look.

Overall I’d give this stick a 4 out of 5 grade purely due to the issues I had with the blade pattern and the feel of it. Otherwise the stick stacks up well against the top of the range offers from Easton, CCM, Bauer and Reebok.


If you are a hockey fan and have not heard the name Biosteel mentioned during the past couple of years, you could’ve been living under a rock. Before the pre-season camps begin for most clubs, those on Twitter and Facebook can see a stream of updates coming from Biosteel camp, which is by invitation only to the most talented players and prospects in the game.

The Biosteel container contains 325grams of the powder to make 60 portions of the drink

Such has been the buzz around Biosteel sports that we have taken a look at the product to see what the hype is all about. On first look at the company, it has several recognisable ambassadors ranging from Mike Cammalleri from the Montreal Canadiens and Steve Stamkos from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Biosteel is the brain child of the respected strength and conditioning coach Matt Nichol (follow him on twitter via @M_Nichol). Nichol first came up with the formula for Biosteel in 2004 when he was the strength and conditioning coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey. The company Biosteel Sports was formed in 2009 and was originally only sold exclusively to professional teams and franchises, but has in a few years been made available to the public as well.

On first look Biosteel High Performance Sports Drink (HPSD) comes in a tub of 375grams, which equates to approximately 60 portions of the drink, when mixed per one scoop to 250ml of water. Having used similar products, such as N.OX Explode by BSN I had my reservations about the taste and the effectiveness of the drink. Similarly, it was interesting to test the drink against some of the sports drinks that you are able to pick up in supermarkets (Lucozade Sports and Powerade).

As with any sports drink you consume, you want to be sure of its effects and that it is easy to drink. When comparing Biosteel to N.OX Explode taste wise, Biosteel is a clear winner. The powder smells almost like bubblegum and there is no strong taste in the Biosteel drink, which makes it easy to drink, compared to N.OX Explode, which has a strong and almost a sickly sweet taste to it. Taste of any sports supplement is a big thing. If the taste is not to your liking you are likely not to drink it.

Biosteel also mixes really well. Whether mixing it into a glass by using spoon or into a shaker, there is no excessive frothing of the drink, nor does the powder leave any clumps at the bottom of the glass or shaker, so there is no fear of having any un-wanted surprises with your drink.

Cheers! Drink the pink. The Biosteel powder mixes exceptionally well and is easy to drink.

Biosteel also promotes energy and where I wouldn’t necessarily class Biosteel as an energy drink in the same vain as Red Bull, it definitely improves energy levels during workouts. As we all know, caffeinated drinks are the worst possible drinks to have before, during or after a workout or game. Energy drinks that rely on caffeine and sugar give you a momentary boost and where you might feel that the traditional caffeinated drinks work, you’ll actually crash sooner and often without reaching your peak. With Biosteel, however, the energy release is consistent and you don’t experience a peak, but your performance is improved throughout your workout/game.

Similarly to sports drinks like Lucozade Sports, Powerade and Gatorade, Biosteel promotes recovery and hydration. Now this is where I have the greatest interest in the product. Having used Powerade and Lucozade Sports drinks excessively for hockey, I have always felt that they are – to a greater or lesser extent – really sugary and sweet in taste. So how does Biosteel compare to these supermarket, household names? It fares great against these products. Because it is mainly mixed into water and due to the mix of nutrients and electrolytes in the drink, Biosteel not only replaces lost fluids, but gives you that extra boost without a hint of caffeine or other substance that would make you experience a crash.

As an example, I’ve used both Biosteel and Powerade during my bike workouts. I do a workout on the bike that consists of 45 second sprints and 1minute 30seconds of active rest periods. Normally I try to complete 15 sets. With the use of Powerade, I feel that I am replacing lost fluids, but not much else. I can’t clearly explain it but the feeling of quick recovery and hydration is not there. Also further negative for Powerade is that even the ‘sugar free’ version tastes really sugary and sweet. Compared with Biosteel, I had one of the best workout sessions on the bike since I started doing it. I found that the sets just breezed past and I was literally in the zone and kept finding that little bit extra.

In hockey it has proved a great help too. It does give you that consistent feeling of energised and I do feel that I am more focussed and pumped than with some of the other products mentioned in this review. Infact I’ve become such a convert for Biosteel that it is an essential in my locker and kit bag for away games.

Biosteel should be an essential in the kit bag

Usually with any product of this type, I am really cautious of the hype, but Biosteel has really put its money where its mouth is.

The annoying thing about Biosteel is that I really wanted to find a flaw in the product, but I can’t. I simply cannot find anything wrong with it. Biosteel has come up with probably the best composition for a sports drink out in the market. It is not only hockey players that benefit from the product, but I can see that it has the potential to become a huge international success.

The only downside, for now, is that there is not a distributor in Europe, though you are able to order the product from the Biosteel website for the European market. I only hope that a smart, forward thinking distributor/online store will start stocking Biosteel so that athletes across the pond can also drink the pink!

For now you can buy Biosteel from: http://www.biosteel.com/buy_now.php

Overall Verdict: 5 out of 5

Taste: 5 out of 5

Mix-ability: 5 out of 5

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5

Look and feel: 5 out of 5

 

For best deals on high quality hockey equipment, click on the image below:


I have been trying out some more gear these past few months. Though this time it’s not the usual hockey gear related thing, it’s still something that us guys have to do on a regular basis and if you’re like me, it can be a bit of a pain at times. I’m talking about shaving. I’ve been testing products from Bulldog for the better part of a month and I have to admit that I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

 

The Bulldog website says, “There are hundreds of male grooming products out there, but for us they just weren’t cutting the mustard. All we wanted were natural products that got the job done hassle free,” and where I’m usually dubious of statements like this, on this one I have to agree. Bulldog might not be the first choice for many of us guys when it comes to shaving, after all Gillette has seemingly deep pockets when it comes to marketing, having hired likes of Tiger Woods and Roger Federer to act as its brand champions.

 

The products I’ve been testing include the Original Shave Gel, Original Moisturiser, and Original Face Wash and Face Scrub. There are different varieties of the products for different skin types available and you can see the entire range here: http://meetthebulldog.com/product.

 

When you look at the packaging of the product, Bulldog has gone with a tube packaging, which is quite slick compared to the other products on the market and they don’t take an disproportionate amount of space in your bathroom. Compared to some of the aerosol cans for shaving cream, the Bulldog packaging is easier to dispose of rather than having to ponder whether a metal canister should go in the recycling bin at home or if it would be best to drive it to your local dump, or Household Recycling Centre at these politically correct time.

Bulldog products come neatly packaged, which matches the brand identity

 

So how does all of this relate to hockey? Well if you’re like me who has a relatively sensitive skin, it is more susceptible to drying or getting irritated by the constant changes of temperature between being on the ice and being in the changing room and you might have suffered from your face getting dry and the skin just feeling uncomfortable.

 

I’ll start off from the face wash products of Original Face Wash and Original Face Scrub:

 

I’ve not used a face scrub before so this was a new one to me. Like all Bulldog products, the face scrub contains no parabens, sodium laureth sulfate, artificial colours, synthetic fragrances, or ingredients from animal sources, so it is perfectly safe to use by vegetarians as well. (I only wish I’d heard of these guys when I was still a vegetarian).

 

To be honest, It took me a while to get used to the face scrub as it was a wholly new experience for me and I used it somewhat begrudgingly. This again could be that my skin type is not suited for such a product as the scrub did irritate my skin a little bit during the use, but I did get used to it and actually grew quite fond of it. My early reticence to the product could be just because of my skin type or that I am talking non-sense given that I have had no previous experience of using facial scrubs.

 

The face wash itself though is offers good proposition, it leaves your skin feeling clean and refreshed, compared to the use against some of the spot treatment ointments I’ve had the pleasure of using during my life time.

However, where the Bulldog face wash may not be in direct competition with face washes that deal with acne or teenage problem skin, it does contain gentle and effective natural surfactants that are better alternatives to skin irritants such as SLS. Because of this, the face wash doesn’t cause any irritation or leave your skin feeling greasy as opposed to some of the other face washes out there.

Even if the face wash doesn’t really fight spots, I would still recommend you give it a go. It does leave the skin feeling new.

 

The two big things for me were the shaving gel and the moisturiser.

 

The shaving gel is simply awesome. Compared to the market leading products it is really easy to use and makes shaving so much easier. The big thing that always annoyed me with shaving was that no matter how little you squeezed out of a Gillette can you always end up with heaps of shaving cream and you resemble Santa Claus more than anything else. But with Bulldog you get a smooth layer of gel spread across your face, which in my opinion helps giving you a close shave as you don’t have to run your razor through a thick layer of gel. Sure you might need to water up your face before rubbing the gel in, but trust me it is worth it.

 

Shaving wise, I’ve noticed that it gives you a much closer shave than other products, even if using a duller razor. So I would definitely recommend this to anyone! Additionally as it contains only natural ingredients it is easy on the skin which in my case is a big thing. I also did a test to see how well it copes with a bit longer growth, in case there’s a long spring in hockey with play-offs and what not. At first I had to do a bit of guess work on the amount of gel I should use, but it really was an easy shave.

 

I also tested the shave gel with different type razors including the Gillette Fusion and with a disposable BIC one. I have to say that there was hardly any tug and pull that I felt on any of the razors, which gives the Bulldog shaving gel a massive tick in the box for comfort. The other big plus for the Bulldog shave gel is that it leaves the skin feeling really soft and refreshed, that you would normally only get with using an aftershave. In my mind, the Bulldog shave gel is the way forward.

However, the true standout for me was the moisturiser. Having dabbled with moisturisers from the leading brands like Nivea and so on, the Bulldog one was really a breath of fresh air. The moisturiser absorbs quicker than the so called house hold names and really helps keep the skin as it should be, without any drying, which will be a big help for any of those that have a sensitive skin and suffer from it during the winter months.

 

The good thing about the moisturiser, like most Bulldog products, is that you don’t need a huge amount to ensure you get the most out of it. With the moisturiser I used an amount that covered the tip of my index finger and it was sufficient to cover my face, without having to spend an age rubbing it in and waiting for it to absorb. As you can see from the picture below, it has become my best friend in the locker room.

Bulldog Natural Moisturiser protects the skin from the elements in the changing conditions seen in hockey

 

I noticed one common denominator with the Bulldog products. I have been testing the Original range and it really feels like the sensitive range from the leading companies in the market. Again a big plus.

 

However, if I had to find something wrong with the products, it would be the smell. I personally did not have a problem with the smell of the products but it might not be to everyone’s taste as I learnt. Though the good thing is that the products do not use anything artificial, I’m more than happy to over look that fact. If your partner has a sensitive nose, you might get comments relating to the smell. But then again, your face does feel pretty awesome after using Bulldog so it’s only a very, very small minus.

 

Overall, Bulldog offers a good alternative to the household names in shaving and male grooming products. The products are ideally priced as well, so the switch won’t break the bank either. I would definitely recommend that you give Bulldog a try and make it your new best friend.

 

You can find Bulldog in most retail outlets, though if your local retailer doesn’t carry the products, I’d write to them and demand they stock it. If that doesn’t work, you can also shop online at: http://gbstore.meetthebulldog.com/. For those outside the UK, make sure you select the country to be directed to the appropriate store.

 

So all in all the grades for the products are:

Original Face Scrub: 3/5

Original Face Wash: 4/5

Original Shave Gel: 5/5

Original Moisturiser: 5/5