Posts Tagged ‘hockey equipment’


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 T-70

Size: 13”

Colour: Black

Prce: £93.60

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

 

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The Sher-Wood T-70 glove has the traditional 4-roll look

The Sher-Wood T-70 glove is in the upper range of its T-range, or True Touch range, superseded only by the T-90. The T-70 we were given to try out by Nekoti Hockey (http://nekoti.co.uk),  looks like a traditional 4-roll glove, but there is something different about it compared to the other 4-roll gloves.

 

The 4-roll look has been making a serious comeback in the recent years and many manufacturers are now supplying the look, but from experience with some of the 4-roll gloves, they can be a bit loose on the hand, but the Sher-Wood T-70 feels ready for action straight out of the box and  doesn’t shake around too much compared to other 4-roll gloves in same size. 

 

Build:

When looking at the build of the glove, the one thing that is a bit of a pro and a con at the same time, is the outer liner. Where other gloves that use the 4-roll look use a nylon/ fabric outer liner, the T-70 uses synthetic leather outer liner, which in my experience has taken a while longer to break in. However, the T-70 gloves did not require an extended breaking in period and were comfortable enough to use in a game situation after three training sessions. The outer liner makes the gloves highly abrasion resistant, durable and light weight. They are on par with most top of the line 4-roll style gloves in terms of weight, with maybe few grams’ difference here or there.

 

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Vents on the inside of the glove.

The backhand contains high density foam and plastic inserts. On the rolls there are breathing vents to allow for better air circulation. However, inside the glove there is a felt/corn liner on the backhand, which can make the glove feel a bit hot and plays down the effectiveness of  the ventilation from the 4-roll. In the end we ended up removing the felt liner from inside the glove and the gloves have felt better since then, both in terms of breathe-ability and performance. The inner lining was not attached to the glove so it had a habit of moving around a bit and felt a bit uncomfortable. Few other guys who have been trying out the same model glove felt that they preferred the glove as it came out from the box, so it is mainly a preference thing.

 

Inside the glove, Sher-Wood have used materials which have been designed to keep the gloves as dry as possible. I have noticed that the gloves do tend to get a bit wet after a particularly heavy training or game, but one of the great things about the glove is that once it is dry it does not stiffen up. This is thanks to the materials used in the palm of the glove, which as mentioned is one of the biggest USPs of this particular range of gloves. The palm liner is super durable.

 

The one thing that ALWAYS breaks in my gloves is the palm liner of the upper hand (being a lefty it’s the right glove that goes). The liner used in these gloves doesn’t have a cheap feel to it and it actually feels sturdy. The other thing with the palm liner is that it gives you an added level of grip on the stick, whether you are using a clear or grip coated stick. Though on a grip coated stick it did feel a bit too grippy to begin with. It is also comfortable to the hand.

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After similar use periods, other palms on gloves can break. Sher-Wood’s palm liner is really durable

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Side profile view of the T-70 Glove showing the Hyperlock thumb feature

One of the cool things about the T-70 gloves is the Hyperloc thumb feature. Players have the choice of having either a mobile thumb, or slightly stiffer thumb with protection. This is done by removing an insert stuck behind the thumb. Personally, I have stuck with the protection as I felt that the thumb was mobile enough with the added protection in place.

 

The gloves’ cuff extends to well above the wrist and fore arm and the gap between the elbow pad and glove is minimised, without sacrificing mobility. The cuff itself is sufficiently padded out so that you do not notice if there are small slashes on the wrist.

Conclusion:

The Sher-Wood T-70 glove is a durable, top of the range 4-roll styled glove that will match the performance and protection of similar glove models from the likes of Bauer, CCM or Easton. Where this model of T-70’s uses a synthetic leather outer layer, it doesn’t hinder the performance of the glove and they can be broken in as quick as other nylon/canvas covered gloves, however, the T-70 is likely to last you longer than a nylon/canvas lined glove. The biggest thing for me has been the palm of the gloves. It is incredibly durable and comfortable to wear.  Additionally it adds an element of grip to stick, so you can be safe in the knowledge that your stick won’t just slide off your hands.

 

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The glove’s cuff provides good level of protection

The Sher-Wood T-70 gloves are an ideal glove for an active player, offering pro level features and comfort. If the 4-Roll look and feel is what you’re after, we suggest you give the Sher-Wood T-70s a good hard look in your selection process.

 

 

 

Pros:

·         Quick to break in

·         Provides great levels of protection on the backhand

·         Customisable thumb protection

·         Palm liner is extremely durable

·         Don’t feel stiff after gloves dry

·         Cool 4-roll look

Cons:

·         Inside felt liner can make glove feel too hot/weakens ventilation

  • Can feel too grippy when first using with a grip coated stick.

You can buy these gloves and other hockey equipment from Nekoti Hockey, by clicking the image below

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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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I came across an article on Forbes discussing comments made by Reebok-CCM hockey with regards to Bauer’s RE-AKT helmet. Apparently the head of Reebok-CCM is not too happy about the claims Bauer has made regarding its helmet. The RE-AKT’s unique selling point has been its ability to reduce the rotational impact forces. Personally, I’m not entirely sure how the helmet does this and questions I sent to Bauer at the launch of the helmet were not answered.

 

Reebok-CCM’s general manager Phil Dubé says in the Frobes.com story that “The topic of head injuries in hockey is too important and of serious concern to the general public to be subject of confusion in the marketplace regarding product performance.” Dubé continued by stating that “When I visit retailers, the first thing I hear about is the RE-AKT helmet doing something no other helmet does. Some of our helmets are better and superior to that helmet designed for that particular kind of protection. The advertising is misleading consumers and retail customers. The best helmet is the one that fits the best.”

 

It’s an interesting point, apart from the plug of CCM and Reebok products, as hockey as a whole has been gripped by the concussion epidemic, which has seen players like Marc Savard and Chris Pronger side-lined indefinitely and has ended the careers of the likes of Paul Kariya. I had written about hockey helmets and whether they protect enough at Pucks ATP and as you can see I referenced the RE-AKT helmet there as well. Basically, the RE-AKT is said to protect the brain from excessive intra-cranial movement due to the helmet’s liner.

 

What makes the story so interesting is that in the American Football market, helmet manufacturer Riddell is currently undergoing litigation for falsely marketing its helmets as having the ability to reduce the risk of concussions by a substantial percentage.

 

As concussions are considered an epidemic, many helmet manufacturers have now made more of an effort in designs and marketing materials to reduce the risk of concussion. As with any helmet, it should be noted that no helmet is 100% concussion proof. I’m a huge M11 helmet fan now days and I understand that the even though the helmet has undergone a series of impact tests, it won’t guarantee that my brain is 100% safe from concussion. The manufacturer says on its front page that the “M11 is proven to absorb more energy from high impact linear forces than other premium helmets to provide maximum protection”

 

I wonder how long it will take before one of the helmet manufacturers will be facing a litigation due to false claims of protection. What is important in helmet technologies is that the helmet fits on the head of the player properly. Choosing a helmet should follow the same criteria as choosing skates or other protective equipment.

What I would like to see in the industry is to set standards of head protection and then follow these standards and  that the core elements of head protection are available in each helmet. What we must not fall into is that the concussion epidemic becomes a pure marketing technique for companies. Hockey is a contact sport and unfortunately injuries do happen, regardless of what equipment you use.

 

The original Forbes story can be found here.

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