Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Summer is a state of mind. On holiday in Finland

Summer is a state of mind. On holiday in Finland

What a manic couple of weeks. I’ve finally had a chance to relax and unwind a little bit whilst holidaying in Finland and then next week somewhere in the South of France.

So, a couple of updates:

In case you hadn’t seen on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram, I have signed for the Bristol Pitbulls for another season, which will be my sixth with the team. Additionally, I have a sponsorship agreement in place with the guys from Cross Check Clothing, so I thought that it would be pertinent for me to give a little bit of insight into my decision and the sponsorship agreement.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I had toyed with the idea of going out on the top and after winning, but after a week of resting on my laurels and getting on the ice relatively early, I felt that I still had loads to give and plenty of miles left in the engine. I think physically, I am way ahead of where I was last year, or even the year before, so the base carrying on was definitely there. Even if I had those thoughts, rest assured, my decision to carry on playing is not going to be for just giggles. I still want to compete and most of all I still want to win. If I wanted to play for fun, I wouldn’t have signed at this level.

When I got word from Richie asking me about my plans, it was an easy decision in at the end. I think my words were “I’m in..”

Back for more with the Pitbulls, this time in partnership with Cross Check Clothing

Back for more with the Pitbulls, this time in partnership with Cross Check Clothing

The Pitbulls have given me a lot in this game and I consider myself fortunate to be playing for the same team that gave me a shot for the sixth season. Usually players move around and drop off the map, but I feel lucky to carry on playing for the team I signed way back when. There’ s a further back story to this, but I will let you know about that if that goal is reached

One of the main reasons why I wanted to sign with the Pitbulls again was the atmosphere in the club. I’m not talking about the locker room atmosphere, but the way the fans interact with us and the invaluable work all the people working behind the scenes to make the team possible. Given the circumstances that we play under, there is this underlying ‘punk DIY’ feel to it, which is cool. The easy option for the owners would have been to fold, but they’ve kept going and together, we have some amazing memories and stories to share in the years to come.

The second reason, I was that I keep getting challenged by the coaches. I think since joining the team, I have developed as a player and as a result I’ve become a more versatile on the ice. I know I’m not the flashiest guy out there, but when I get something that I need to do, I’ll go and do it. To me, it’s all about making sure that we succeed as a team and that everything I do on the ice helps us win games.

In the years I’ve been with the team, I’ve obviously made friends in and outside the locker room, and so has my family. The team has embraced my family in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined. I feel fortunate that I got to share some of the most amazing moments of my career with them. But it’s not just my family. I feel that the whole team and the fans are part of one big family and seeing the amount of support we have, no matter where we turn up to play, it’s just indescribable. Like I said in the post where I was looking at the game from the fans’ point of view. To see how the fans live with the team vicariously through every triumph and through every low is truly special.

What of my own personal goals? I said that to me, the number of goals I score don’t really matter. Where yes, I love to score goals and I’d love to be able to be a point per game type of player, to me it is more important that the team succeeds and that everything I do, helps us push for the titles again and bring home more silverware. Eveything that I do on and off the ice must help the team and help us succeed.

The only ‘goal’ I’ve set, is to push to become a top-6 forward on the team. I’ve trained hard the summer and feel like I’ve got the fitness and the stamina to log big minutes.

Holiday leg day action in Finland. #TEAMCROSSCHECK

Holiday leg day action in Finland. #TEAMCROSSCHECK

The partnership with Cross Check Clothing: I’ve been a fan of Cross Check Clothing for a few years and have their shirts in my wardrobe already. The guys have created a brand of clothing that really encapsulates the hockey lifestyle, whether you’re a fan or a player. Where there are maybe a few brands that do a similar thing, but Cross Check Clothing have taken a different stance to it and I’m proud to be able to spread the word further this season. I like to call it a partnership as I really want to help expose the brand to a wider audience. For me, it is important to work with people and products I believe in, and I believe in what Cross Check Clothing are doing and what they are creating.

You can take a look at the gear from Cross Check Clothing at: http://shop.crosscheckclothing.co.uk/

Off-Season Update 1

Posted: June 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

Offseason4With the off-season in full swing, I thought it’d be a good time to do a bit of reflection on the five-six weeks that I’ve already put into it.

First off, I need to start with an omission; After winning the league titles and in the aftermath, I wasn’t a 100% sure if I had the fire in me to go through the rigors of the off season and fully commit myself to training. However, after about a week off, I started to really miss the gym and the work that goes into getting ready for the hockey season. After the first workout, I didn’t need to ask any more questions about my dedication or if I still had something to give. The fire still burns.

I have also been on the ice already and plan on starting skating much, MUCH, earlier than previously. I have sets some things to improve on, in terms of stuff going on the ice and the best way to practice those is to make use of as much ice time as I can get. Ideally, I’d like to hire out a rink for myself for an hour or two per week, but I don’t have deep pockets to do that.

Offseason1I had originally feared that I’d be turning into Teemu Selanne, in that I’d mull my decision for months, but the fact is that I’m still relatively young and managed to get through last season pretty much injury free –  well I didn’t miss any games due to injury – so I felt that I had a good base to start building on. Sure the season went on for a bit longer than for some other teams, but in the end I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

In terms of workouts, this off-season has been a total polar opposite from last season. This time last year I was just about getting my arm out of the sling following my shoulder operation. Something that has aided me a lot in the off season is the work that I put in from January on-wards to really get into game shape. While we had a break at December, I evaluated where I was fitness wise and had to devise a plan to get into better game shape. This decision was borne out of a few drills and game situations, particularly in the corners and face-offs, I just didn’t have enough – or any – upper body strength to really make a difference. Where I found that where my stamina and endurance were OK, I lacked strength and I didn’t start to get that back until March-April time, when it all really mattered.

So that work has given me a good base to build on. Given that in September/October I was starting from square one, I have managed to come in leaps and bounds. I have found that I am now able to push more weight and really test the boundaries of what I can do. I think that up-until recently I still had this mind set that “I need to watch out for the shoulder”, but the more I’ve been working out, the more I realise that I have nothing to worry about.

One of my key areas of focus is to get my shot stronger this season – and as always, speed – so I have been doing a lot of work for muscle groups that you use when shooting. Additionally, I wanted to be more explosive to improve the power that goes into the first two or three strides, so there is a lot of jumping on boxes and stuff taking place and a lot of lifting bars off of the ground and then putting them down again.

Offseason2Additionally, I’ve made a couple of lifestyle changes recently, which have held and I hope will become permanent fixtures in my overall look on life. I’ve often said that I’m the worst person on the planet when it comes to energy drinks. Well, I’ve decided to cut them out entirely and so far, I’ve managed a month without an energy drink. Additionally, I have significantly cut down the amount of other fizzy drinks as well, with the overall goal to cut them out completely as well. In terms of diet, it’s still the same. A lot of experimenting on what works for me and trying to eat like an adult and sensibly. Except for the occasional donut. I’m a sucker when it comes to donuts.

Why do all this? Well, where I said I’m still young, the fact is that I can’t get away with youthful exuberance anymore, in fact I haven’t done in years. I can’t sit on my backside and turn up to find that an 18-year old will skate circles around me. Also, I have this goal in the back of my mind that wherever I will play, I will be in shape to log big minutes and keep that going consistently throughout the season.Offseason3

So that’s about it for the moment. There are some exciting updates and announcements in the pipeline as well, so that should keep things fresh and exciting going forward.


Monkey Nutrition was a relatively unknown commodity to me. I had not heard of the company before and hadn’t seen it on the shelves of the typical supplement stores you might expect to find on the high-street.

About the product:

The product I have been testing is Monkey Nutrition’s Moodulator. It has been designed to calm pre-event, or in our case, pre-game jitters. Usually, in a hockey situation, the pre-game jitters are a good thing and can be used for extra energy and adrenaline on the ice, but there are cases where they can get so bad that the jitters and the anxiety actually hampers your performance.

Moodulator contains natural ingredients, including Chamomile, calcium, vitamins B1, B2 and B6. It comes in a capsule form and it is easily added to your morning supplementation/vitamin intake. I have been taking it in the mornings with our other supplements and our morning water in-take.

Side effects:

I did notice a slight side effect from taking the Moodulator, in that I experienced a very slight case of vertigo for about two days after taking the product, but this soon subsided and it wasn’t something that debilitated or affected day-to-day life.

Other than that, there were no negative side effects from taking the product.

Benefits:

After about a week or so of taking the product, I noticed that our sleeping patterns were getting more pronounced and the quality of sleep was a lot better and deeper, which was a positive sign as rest was in a key role during the test.

Moodulator has been effective in calming nerves both in a semi-professional athlete life as in life at home. The product has been more than beneficial to personal life as well. My mood has been calmer at home and in the office and I have found additional confidence in all aspects of day-to-day life. It has also effectively reduce other anxieties, apart from sports related anxieties.

Results:

Overall, I have been positively impressed with the results of the Moodulator. I have been more relaxed at training and on the ice and have not experienced pre-game jitters. Prior to trying Moodulator, during a big game, I was a complete nervous wreck, but after that I was able to exert myself better and not worry about nerves.

The Moodulator has had a positive impact on other aspects as well. As mentioned, sleeping patterns and sleep quality has gotten better and having woken up more energised in the mornings has been a positive. Additionally, the effects have been seen elsewhere. In an office environment the Moodulator has calmed nerves to the point where delivering presentations has not been affected and the confidence in speaking in-front of chief executives has felt natural.

At the gym, I haven’t noticed the Moodulator having much of an impact on weight lifting. This is down to the training programme I was undertaking during the review period. The programme was a maintenance one that also focussed on explosive strength for play-offs.  Also during this time I was rehabbing a sports related injury, so I wasn’t going after big lifts.

Conclusion:

Moodulator does an effective job of calming any pre-game nerves. It is, however, recommended that you start using the supplement well before a competition for it to have an effect. I did experience slight vertigo at the start of using the product, but this subsided in a few days. It effectively calmed nerves for big games. Where the Moodulator has a positive impact on your mood as well, I would recommend that you do not use it to treat burgeoning symptoms of depression, if you suffer from those. Additionally the packaging states that you should not use the product if you are on anti-depressants or medication that treats Bipolar disorder.

I would recommend Moodulator to anyone who suffers from pre-event jitters and to those who are about to deliver a presentation or any other work related stressors that cause anxiety. So, if you are a hockey player who struggles with pre-game anxiety, I would recommend you try Moodulator as you will be positively impressed with the results. As long as you start taking it in advance of a game and not start it on a game day. As always, before embarking on any fitness journey and supplementation you are thinking of using, if in doubt, speak to your practitioner.

For more information about Monkey Nutrition and the Moodulator, check out http://www.monkeynutrition.com/

Champions: A story of growth

Posted: April 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

Photo courtesy of Graham Goodman, Flyfifer Photography, www.flyfifer.co.uk

Photo courtesy of Graham Goodman, Flyfifer Photography, http://www.flyfifer.co.uk

“It’s been a long and tough trip, but I’m glad I took it, because it was well worth it” – Sage Francis – the Best of Times (slightly adapted).

This past weekend we achieved something amazing. Something that not many players get to experience during their careers, a championship, or a double championship (winning the Western conference and the play-offs). It has been a long journey with its many ups and downs, but I think that a championship season is supposed to be just that; full of ups and downs. Whenever a team wins, it is a story of growth and I feel that it is exactly what our story as a team has been. We have fought adversity for the past three years, playing and training where anyone is willing to give us ice. Thankfully Oxford have been kind to house us for the last two years to give us at least some stability.

During the journey in the past few years, we have won games and lost a few big ones, but they all taught us a lesson on how to pull through and what it takes to seal the deal. Nothing was handed to us on a silver plate. We had to learn to win, we had to learn a lot of things from the start of the season. Most of all, we had to play with a knife on our throat from January onwards. We could not afford to slip-up. To go on a 15 game winning streak is not an easy task, but the way this team pulled together and rallied after Christmas is something that I have not seen in my entire career. In a word, it was unbelievable.

In a way Sunday’s championship is a good indication of the growth I described earlier. Five years ago, I played my first

Photo courtesy of Pete Fears

Photo courtesy of Pete Fears

league game against Slough Jets at the Hanger and we got completely drilled, five years on, and I get to celebrate a league championship at the very same venue, with the same team I signed for five years ago. What’s great is that there were so many guys who have been there approximately the same time as I have.

From a personal point of view, this season was really challenging and mentally difficult. Obviously I had a rather big operation on my shoulder in the off-season and lost a lot of time conditioning wise. It wasn’t until August/September time that I was able to start training properly. Before then, where I was able to keep my fitness up by running, I lacked strength as I had gone back to square one. Admittedly, I needed to have the operation as by the end of last season I could hardly turn the steering wheel of a car, which was a little bit problematic.  Then there were other issues, which I have discussed widely here, which added its own flavour to the overall season. On the flipside, I feel that I learnt something new and improved my work ethic because of these challenges and towards the end of the season I had gained back some of my self-confidence, which helped going into the last remaining games.

Champs

Photo courtesy of Graham Goodman of Flyfifer Photography and Bristol Pitbulls

While the feelings from the win are still very much on the surface and things seem like a blur from the final few seconds of the game to the buzzer. It was difficult to keep emotions in check during those last few seconds, and me and Adi definitely started to celebrate on the bench before the buzzer went off.

It’s funny, because in my head, I had thought I could easily dress it into words what the championship meant to me, but after taking a step back and as I was standing there looking at the crowd and the team celebrate, I had no words to describe the feeling. From looking at Oxford City Stars celebrate the Cup win in the final last year, filled the fire and the hunger to do the same with the team, I was at a loss for words. And to a greater or lesser effect I still am. (This is taking forever to write – and what I have written probably doesn’t even do the occasion justice).

I am humbled by the support that we received throughout the season and what was amazing was that so many supporters followed us across the south of England – and Wales – to watch us play. The championship is every bit yours as it is the teams’. Without the people who follow us and work tirelessly behind the scenes, none of this would be possible. Having seen the joy of the fans’ faces, it was clearly evident that this meant so much to them as well and to have them live every moment vicariously with us was something unbelievable. Out of the championships that I have been fortunate to win in the past, this one is special – well each of them is – but this ranks so high because of the circumstances we played in and because of the people who have followed us through thick and thin, that and I’d say that I’m more ‘mature’ now than I was as opposed to when I was 17 or 25, so I know to appreciate this more.

WeAreBristol

Photo courtesy of Graham Goodman of Flyfifer Photography and Bristol Pitbulls

Looking back on it, I said in my signing announcement did that I wanted to win the triple title (Conference, Cup and Playoffs) To quote Meatloaf  “two out of three ain’t bad”. Indeed, not bad at all.

PS.   I found my underwear that I lost

PPS. I don’t ever want a hangover of that magnitude again!

PPPS. I definitely want to win some silverware again!


This article was originally published in the Bristol Pitbulls programme in our match against the Swindon Wildcats. Bits in Italics are new additions to the post.

A while ago, I posted a picture on Instagram and lifting the lid on my mental health issues. To be honest, I have been wanting to do this write up for a long time, but haven’t – for one reason or another – had the guts to do it. When I initially posted the picture, I did not expect the avalanche of messages, “likes” or subsequent re-tweets – though I find it rather rather ironic that you have to ‘like’ someone’s status about mental illness. I did not post the picture to get likes or re-tweets, but rather to show people that there are those who deal with mental health issues within a competitive, semi-professional sports environment.  This was brought on by some comments I had seen on various social media platforms and club officials calling others “mentally ill.” This article has not been written so that I can go on some ego-trip, but to encourage talk around the issues of mental health in a competitive sports environment.

Where in “normal” society, the stigma around depression and mental illness has dissipated and it is better understood, it is still carries a stigma within sports. I’m not saying that everyone is understanding about depression and would rather people just ‘shake it off’. However, in sports it is often seen as a weakness and players can be seen as ‘damaged goods’ as depression can hinder the career prospects of a professional athlete, or a prospect. In the world of sports, specifically in hockey, chirping is part of the game. If someone publicly states that they suffer from depression, you can expect that opponents will make use of it to try and gain a mental edge.

I have been dealing with depression and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) since November last year, or at least that’s when I sought help, while in honesty, I’ve been probably dealing with these problems for a lot longer. Rather than confront my issues I started to spiral downwards and I had come to the point where I felt that ending it all would be the best option. I was unable to talk about how I felt, because at the time it would’ve felt like admitting defeat. Though I now realise that I should have sought help sooner.

Before then, it was a real struggle at home, at work, at hockey and at the gym. I was having anxiety attacks before I could walk into the office or any other public place and always wanted to be the first one in the changing room so I could get settled. I felt I had to put a face on to be in any situation that required any form of social interaction. In truth, I would’ve rather been curled up in a ball on the floor.

It was – and still is at times – an emotional drain to go to a social situation, but at least I am not at a point where I feel like people (people that I don’t even know), are talking crap about me. I was getting really paranoid about things, even when going to town, I would think that people around were constantly talking about me or judging me. The same would go on at the gym, where normally, I would listen to my own music, but had to start taking my headphones out to make sure some meatheads weren’t talking crap about me.

So why speak out? I feel that there isn’t enough talk about mental health in the world of pro-sports. While there are several noble causes, like #BellLetsTalk, I can’t remember than an active professional player would have spoken out about their issues. There are a number of cases where athletes have come forward post career to talk about it and it is admirable. But to have an active player stepping out and saying “I suffer from depression,” would certainly highlight the issue and to show that it is possible to succeed.

Am I worried about potential backlash from other players? No. During my career, I’ve had opponents/opposing fans say they wish “I’d die”, I’ve been called pretty much everything under the sun, but I try and approach it as part of the game and nothing personal. Besides, the beloved child has many names. My worst enemy on the ice is myself and it is something that I am working on. I set myself high standards and if I don’t meet those standards, I will get angry at myself and start to resent the whole game.

Why keep this from my teammates and coaches? To me this was a personal issue and not a problem the team had to deal with. I didn’t want any kind of special treatment from coaches or conversely (wrongly) that my ice time would be reduced because of this. Additionally, I didn’t want my teammates to act different around me or watch what they had to say. They don’t and it was the group of guys in the room that kept my sanity.

But won’t that be true now, I hear you ask. Well, it might be, but I am in a good place now where it doesn’t affect me in the way that it did in the past. There was a time when I had to block certain social media channels (such as @NIHLNewz on twitter) because the stuff, where intended as a joke, was really getting to me, even though I only received two tweets from said account. It is all well and good to joke and to have a laugh in the team environment and with the fans, but when it comes to the online realm, it is always worth remembering that there is a person behind the joke you are making, and you can never truly know how they might feel about it.

There has been a lot of talk about mental health of late and some media outlets have stigmatised the issue in the aftermath of the GermanWings tragedy. “News” outlets such as the Daily Mail have made a big splash about it, reporting on its front page “Why on earth was he allowed to fly”, implying that any depressed person should not be allowed to operate machinery of any kind. There was also a tweet from a professional Twitter troll Katie Hopkins saying that “all depressed people need is a pair of running shoes and fresh air,” or that all depression is, is like standing in the rain with a Primark paper bag. To this I can only reply that Katie: I work out 5 times a week at the gym, I run 5 times per week and I play hockey at a competitive, semi-professional level and yet I am still struggling with mental health issues.

 

Where I do agree with the sentiment that exercise helps with mental health, it is not the only solution. I should know this, I went years without medication or seeking help and spiralled deeper and deeper . I find solace at the gym and weight lifting as well as hockey, but like I described above, when you are in the grips of depression, it is really, REALLY, difficult to actually get going and start moving. The threshold that you need to step over is monumental and if you haven’t experienced it yourself, it is difficult to understand. But to say that depression is something that is a minor nuisance (standing in a rain with a paper bag or your public transport running late) is just ignorant.

The reason why I wanted to lift the lid on this was to show that I am in a good place where I feel comfortable about talking about these issues and to show that even when the world drop-kicks you in the face it is possible to go on.  It is always worth carrying on. If me talking about it will help just one person, then it was definitely worth opening up about.  At the same time, whilst I’ve reached a ‘comfortable’ place mentally, I know I am not out of the woods yet, but every time I talk about this, or write about it, I feel better. So with that, if there is a reader out there that needs help, I’m here with open heart and ears.

A rant about supermarkets

Posted: February 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

Something really started to piss me off since Christmas and has carried on to this day. We’ve all seen that stores go all out for special events and seasons. Some stores had their Christmas goodies up before Halloween had come around. At the time of writing this (started in December and dragged out till 23.02.2015) stores have already started stocking chocolate at special rates for Easter.

What has really gotten my goat is the BOGOF, or buy one get one free, deals that we tend to get in abundance. We all love a good bargain, but lately all I keep seeing is that these bargains are for the things that are ‘not good’ for you. It’s the ready made pasta/curry sauces, ready meals, frozen pizzas, alcohol, yogurts, confectionery items etc.  It just seems like all the best BOGOF deals are for the shit that’s really bad for you and wouldn’t belong in a human body.

Just looking at the offers in Sainsbury’s website (on 8.12.2014), they include things like Save £10 on bottle of Russian Standard Vodka (what better way to spend Christmas but pissed out of your head and maybe argue with your spouce), buy any 2 for £2 on 1.75l of Coca Cola (because kids aren’t getting enough sugar as it is). In fact of the 18 offers on the site only two have any real nutritional value (and that is after skimming some of the fat off).  At least under the “Fresh & Bakery” section on the offers, you can get a deal on chicken breast fillets and fine green beans. Finally some vegetables on offer!  Hooray! Admittedly, it doesn’t get much better for the other stores either. Their front offer pages are filled with similar crap.

Come to think of it, I have not seen a BOGOF offer on things like broccoli, sweet potatoes – or any of the so called super foods – in ages. There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about obesity and countless of reality shows being done around it. Even though a report that was published at the end of January saying that childhood obesity is down, however it (obesity) is still a problem. Many health experts tell us that we need to eat more organic foods, but the problem is for most people the cost of your weekly shop would double if not triple if you went all organic. It’s all well and good to tell people to eat healthy, but if the food industry – including the supermarkets – are not on board with lowering the prices then it’s a pointless exercise. People, in the current economic climate, make purchasing decisions on price, not the health factor. Even if it means that they’ll ply themselves and their families full of sugars (without checking the labels on the jars of pasta and curry sauces they buy).

Whilst I’m on about the above topic, do many people actually understand what the nutritional values are and how much of what they’re supposed to be eating? There needs to be a lot more education around food in general. I remember back in Finland home economics classes were a real drag, but looking back on it, at least the schools made a concerted effort in teaching us what was good for us and what wasn’t.

Then, whilst I don’t doubt that their causes are noble, Tesco has teamed up with the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK to promote healthier life styles. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people getting healthier as some heart problems and diabetes can be fought by easy lifestyle changes (note: they are easy if the person is committed to making those changes). However, what I find a bit hypocritical is that – apart from Tesco’s charity page – there is very little advice, let alone offers on the stuff that they say you should be eating. I remember when I decided that I needed to change my eating habits, I struggled with the nutrition side of things i.e. what to eat and more specifically, when to eat. There is literally no advice, there are no leaflets in store (that I have seen) promoting healthy recipes or examples of meal plans and when to eat and what to eat.

Retailers are a devious bunch. They lay out their stores in such a way that they lure you to buy stuff that you don’t really need and the stuff that’s supposedly good for you is hidden in the shelves. Recently I found that a UK retailer had started to stock protein quark, a nice low fat, high protein snack. Firstly it was nigh impossible to find it on the shelves as it was hidden in the midst of other yogurts that ‘pretend’ to be healthy. A 200gram pot of the Arla protein quark has less sugar than a tub of regular yogurt, it has more protein and less fat compared to the normal yogurts. But yet, the shelf space is relatively minor in comparison to the shit that Danone and Nestle want us to buy.

Countless times I’ve overheard people talk about buying “fat free” yogurts or “fat-free-fucking-whatever”. OK excess fat is not good, but looking at the nutritional facts, there is still huge amounts of sugar in “fat free” yogurts. But because we have created such a taboo over the word fat, people are going for the ‘fat free’ options thinking that those are the healthy choices, where in many cases they are not as healthy as they would seem. A pot of Activia yogurt (supposedly good for you) still has 16.6 grams, or approximately 64 calories worth of sugar in it (that’s  7 cubes worth of sugar, though admittedly  only 3% of your daily allowance of carbohydrates). Let’s not forget that ‘good’ fats are still an essential for humans and you can get the good fats from various healthy choices.

I don’t claim that I am a nutritional specialist, or that I am all goody fucking two shoes about what I eat.  I do, however, look through the nutritional facts about everything I buy and put in my mouth. Yes, I do have weaknesses for certain things that aren’t good for me. I have no problem admitting that my favourite cheat meals are pizzas or doughnuts. Or Skittles. But just because I like those above unhealthy food items, doesn’t mean that I eat them every month. In my opinion it’s about moderation.

The worse culprit for excess sugar that your body will turn into fat is soda and fucking energy drinks. I am the worst when it comes to energy drinks. I have managed to cut down the amount I consume, and I am trying to kick the habit for good, but it really pisses me off when I see kids that are under ten years old buying up-to six 500ml cans of the shit for themselves and the people at the checkouts in stores not doing two shits about it. But at the end of the day, it’s all money in their registers isn’t it?

I realise that the modern society is a busy one and that it can be a real drag to start cooking dinner after hard day at work and while your kids are demanding your attention. I know, I’ve been there more times than I care to think, but it is through these little choices of eating protein from healthy sources and getting the right amount of carbohydrates complemented by greens. It’s easy to make a few adjustments in your diet and you’d be surprised how quickly the weight will start to drop off. It is also about eating like an adult. Like Brandan Schieppati said in one of his pod casts, if you’re over 20, Lucky Charms and Chunky Monkey ice cream should not be a part of your diet.

That’s it, I think my rant is done.

Eat healthy, train hard and dirty.


  photo 8Stick specifications

Flex: 75

Weight: True A6.0 400 grams, True A5.2 425 grams

Blade Pattern: TC2 (similar to Nugent-Hopkins, Backstrom, Hall and/or Kopitar)

Grip coated

Price: A6.0: $259.99 (On Hockeymonkey.com) A5.2 $199.99 (On Hockeymonkey.com)

More information at: http://www.true-hockey.com/

True Hockey is a relatively new player to the stick market, even though the company behind the sticks has a long pedigree in golf (True Temper). True Hockey supplied us with two sticks to try out -its top of the range A6.0 and A5.2  – and to see how the sticks stack up against some of the more established brands in the market.

The True A6.0 is the top of the range stick within the True range and the True A5.2 stick is a high level stick that is packed with a lot of the features of the A6.0, though it weighs a fraction more than the A6.0.  Both of the sticks we are testing are 75flex and come in True’s TC2 blade pattern, which is similar to Bauer’s Backstrom, CCM’s Nugent-Hopkins, Easton’s Hall or Warrior’s Kopitar blade patterns. The blade is a toe curve, with round toe and open face, with a 6.0 lie.

The A6.0 is the lightest stick in the range, with the senior stick weighing just 400grams and the A5.2 weighing in at 425 grams. Where the sticks are – and feel – incredibly light, the Sher-Wood Rekker EK15 is still the lightest stick on the market. Having said that, the True A6.0 and A5.2 are sticks that are within the industry average when it comes to weight and beat a few top-end manufacturers on the weight front, meaning that the new comers can compete with the big boys.

Lookphoto 11

The True sticks look great. With a black/grey finish to the shaft of the stick, the product name is included on the shaft in electric blue, which makes it stand out. The design is really no-nonsense. It is slick but effective, whilst ensuring that it will standout at the stick racks at a store.  The other aspect that might make the True series of sticks standout in the stick rack is that the sticks are longer (out of box or rack) than most of the top marquees in the market.

 

 

Feel

photo 9 When we first started to play with the A6.0 and the A5.2, we felt that the sticks had a great feel to them. Even when first holding the sticks in your hands they feel super light and have a feel of a high-end product to them. The grip coating is not too heavy as it can be on some other sticks, where the coating can feel overbearing on the gloves.

When stick handling, both of the sticks give great feedback to your hands, meaning that you know at all times where the puck is. This has been achieved through True’s patented manufacturing process (Axenic Technology), where the blade is seamlessly co-molded to the shaft, creating a true one piece stick. This manufacturing process is different to the spear process used by some other manufacturers and we feel that the Axenic Technology is one of the real strengths of the True sticks.

The manufacturing process has allowed True Hockey to create a well balanced stick. In terms of balance, the A6.0 and A5.2 are on par with Sher-Wood’s sticks which are some of the best balanced sticks on the market. Both of the sticks are mid flex sticks and are maybe a touch softer at the top of the shaft than other sticks we’ve tried, but still provide you with incredible responsiveness to shots, particularly wrist shots during game play situations, when you need to get a shot off quickly. If the softer butt end will have you worried, we wouldn’t. The tip of the stick provides players with increased stability and accuracy for shooting.

Wristers and snap shots are easy to get away, we felt that with slap shots we got a bit more behind the shot as well. The stick produces great pop and you don’t have to do much work to get the stick loaded for the shot. Just as with the wrist shots, the slap shots are quick off the blade and thanks to the structure of the blade, they don’t turn into knuckle pucks either.

photo 10

As you move down the shaft and get to the blade, this is where the real beauty of the True sticks are. Both the True A6.0 and True A5.2 feature True’s Active Bond Technology II. This technology ensures that the blade maintains its original stiffness for longer periods of time. It is something that we have noticed that the blade will provide you with great pop on the shots. The blade also features 100% carbon fibre rib structure to provide additional durability of the blade. Much like the Sher-Wood Rekker EK15, the True A6.0 and A5.2 sticks will give you that new stick feel for longer, which will keep your shots crisper and accurate. Throughout using the sticks, every time we’ve hit the ice with these sticks, it feels like a stick that we have only just taken out of its wrappers and cut down to our liking.

We noticed that the sticks do improve your accuracy somewhat. Usually our shooting can miss a barn door, but with the True sticks we have been able to usually hit the net where we have wanted.

Durability:photo 5

Durability is always something that players look for in sticks. We want to be sure that the money we spend on sticks means that we will get a product that will last a long time and that we are not back at the retailers getting a new one within two months. After using the stick both outside to do shooting practice and in on-ice training and scrimmages, the stick has proved to be durable. In a hack and slash type of environment, the stick has only ‘suffered’ a few scuff marks on the shaft, which is normal for any hockey stick in active use.

With 75 flex sticks we really want to make sure that the sticks are capable of handling slap shots and one timers as often times, sticks at this flex range (and depending on manufacturing quality) have a tendency of breaking easily and earlier. Both the True A6.0 and A5.2 have held up well and only boast a few scuff marks on the shafts and the flex profiles on both sticks are still in original form, meaning that despite abusing the sticks on the ice they feel like new.

photo 6The drawbacks?

Despite trying to pick holes at True’s own literature and the stick to try and find something negative about them, we are quite pleased to say that despite being new to the market, True Hockey have created a product that is difficult to fault. There are great features built-in to both of the sticks and both A6.0 and A5.2 provide players with great levels of responsiveness, shooting accuracy and power.

Overall

The True A6.0 and A5.2 sticks are both high quality products. If we had to compare them to any of the existing manufacturers out there, we’d say that the True A6.0 is like CCM’s Tacks stick in terms of feel and performance. We are huge fans of the rigidity of the blade and the accuracy of the stick, which was something we noted when having a quick play on the Tacks. The A5.2 would be comparable to CCM Tacks 5052. That’s not to say that the True sticks are like for like for the Tacks (in our opinion the True sticks are better), it’s just a reference as True is a new player to the market.

True Temper has created a truly wonderful set of sticks that have quickly become our favourite sticks to use. We have had other players test the sticks True provided us with and the feedback has been nothing but positive (though some guys prefer a stiffer flex), so we are confident to say that these sticks are going to be a huge hit among players. The one thing that we did wonder was the price tag. True’s top of the range sticks (the A6.0 and A5.2) are priced at the levels of some of the top brands on the market. The sticks deserve that price tag due to the performance and build quality, but will that deter people from buying a stick from one of the new guys to the market? We hope it doesn’t because these sticks are simply AMAZING!

True hockey is expanding rapidly into the European market as well and any retailer picking up the True range will be making a great investment to their business as these sticks will become popular among players very quickly.

Pros:photo 4

  • Lightweight construction
  • True one piece stick
  • Responsiveness
  • Provide great pop for longer
  • Durable construction
  • Accuracy of shooting
  • One of the best blades on the market

Cons:

  • Price – May turn customers to more established brands