It is no secret that when we tested the TRUE Hockey (True) A 6.0 and A 5.2 sticks that we absolutely fell in love with them. Everyone we have since showed the stick to and let them – begrudgingly – have a go with them has been equally impressed. Further testament to True’s capability within the stick market came recently when the True A 6.0 won stick of the year award from Modsquad Hockey.
So what then of the new X-Core 9? It would be unfair to do a direct comparison with the top-of-the-range A-series sticks as the X-Core 9 is a beast of its own. While it still uses a lot of the same manufacturing methods and technologies as the A-series of sticks, we place the X-Core in a category of its own.
Out of the wrappers the X-Core 9 has had a bit of a ‘facelift’ when it comes to branding. The True branding is more visible than on the A-series, but the stick still retains its rather minimalistic, but cool, design. The stick is mainly carbon black with cool little design touches in the grip coating and the electric blue elements of the stick definitely add to the cool exterior design of the twig.
The real beauty of the X-Core 9 is in the manufacturing of the stick and in the technology. The biggest change is in the blade of the X-Core. The blade now includes a urethane insert, which has been designed to reduce puck wobble when shooting, but in truth it does so much more for the overall performance of the stick, but more on that later.
Out of the wrappers the X-Core 9 gives you a stick that is equal to the build quality of the A series. It is light weight and despite a urethane insert in the blade, the stick does not feel too ‘bottom heavy’. It is equally balanced and more than holds its own against other manufacturers who have made a big play about the perfectly balanced stick.
When used with a stick handling ball, the stick is really responsive and you can feel how each touch of the ball is fed through from the blade to the hands. With this in mind we were excited to be taking the stick to the ice for the first time. The feel for the puck is on-par, if not slightly better than on the top end A-series sticks, but it is in shooting and passing that the Xcore 9 really shows what it is made of.
In terms of puck feel True sticks are in the same category with Sher-Wood. These two manufacturer’s have the best feeling composite sticks in the market at the moment.
We have all had it happen and we laugh at our teammates when the puck just wobbles off the blade after what looks like an otherwise strong shot. This is due to the puck bouncing on and off of the blade of a stick during a shot. This causes less spin on the puck and as a result the puck wobbles and the shooter makes the goalie look really hot. Basically, the more spin you are able to get on the puck, the crisper and harder the shot.
As mentioned, the X-core features a urethane insert, placed strategically along the area of the blade that generates the most spin and where True found that most on-and-off contact with the puck occurred. This means the blade is dampened that True claims produces 30% more spin on the shots compared to other sticks on the market.
The blade doesn’t just feature the urethane insert, but a wholly new rib pattern as well to boost durability and stiffness to the blade. As already mentioned, the changes made to the blade have not sacrificed the puck feel that we fell in love with in the A-series.
When we first took a couple of shots with the X-core, we thought that it had to be some kind of a fluke. All the shots came off really crisp and headed for the upper areas of the net. The shots seemed ‘harder’ than before as well. However, after consistently testing it, the stick really does make a huge difference in your shots. It is quite simply, the best stick we have ever shot a puck with.
What of the passes then? Similar to shooting. The X-core provides an un-matched level of crispness to your passes. Not that we would ever do this in a game, as the coach would have us riding the pine, but you can comfortably make rink wide passes with the X-core and make it look and feel easy. Receiving passes has been easier as well with the X-core in comparison with some of the other big names out there. The puck doesn’t seem to bounce off the blade as much and the stick is a joy to use in give-and-go situations and in front of the net when you need a quick touch and quick release.
True to True’s A-series sticks, the X-core features True’s SmartFlex flex profile, even if the X-core comes with a slightly higher kick-point than the A6.0. The SmartFlex makes the stick easy to load for wrist, snap and slapshots. The stick really lets you know where the puck is on the blade and it is so essential to have this feedback when taking shots. Additionally, we have noticed that the stick performs really well in-close situations in front of the net, or when you are going to bury that give-and-go pass.
The X-Core 9 really does perform well on every type of shot and gives you that crisp feel for each of them. In a sentence: This stick is simply damn good!
Now that we’ve told you what is good about the stick, then there’s the bad: Literally, the only thing that we can cite as bad is that the X-Core will set you back by approximately $300, which makes it one of the more expensive sticks on the market. BUT you do get a lot of stick for that money. And from a quality point of view, you can be sure that you are making a sound investment into a stick that has been manufactured well.
However, we’re sure that the clever guys at TRUE will be making the X-Core technology into a wider series of sticks.
If you are serious about your hockey and want the best performing stick in the market, the True X-core 9 is the way to go. The stick brings together some of the most innovative technologies in the market today and the performance is second to none. We would not be the least bit surprised if the X-core walked away with few other “Stick of the Year” awards from various hockey boards and bodies. Simply put, the True X-core 9 is the best stick that we have ever tested and played with. True has raised the bar significantly over the A-Series of sticks and we are confident that the X-core will establish True as one of the premier stick manufacturers in the hockey market this year and would be willing to bet that loyalists to other brands would be making the shift to X-core once they have tried it out.