Yaro3It has been three years since the tragic loss of the entire Yaroslav Lokomotiv hockey team and most of the flight crew when the teams’ Yak-42 plane crashed shortly after take-off. Though there were two initial survivors, player Alexander Galimov and flight engineer Alexander Sitzov, Galimov sadly passed away in hospital due to the injuries he sustained in the crash

 

There were several known players and legends in their respective countries lost in the disaster, leaving the hockey world with gut wrenching pain and sadness of the loss. The hockey world pulled together with emotional tributes pouring out to the team, its fans and the victims’ families. The summer of 2011 had been tough for hockey fans before that with the loss of Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak. All lives lost too soon. Every year, the world wide hockey community comes together with tributes to those it lost in the summer of 2011. Every player and team member is remembered and their memories live on. 

The Yaroslav air disaster is an incident that most hockey fans remember where they were and what they were doing. So here is my account of the day, 7th of September 2011:

I was at work and I remember it was a relatively quiet day, which was unusual. I was monitoring news feeds and I came across a news alert on one of the international news feeds and on Slava Malamud’s twitter feed that a plane carrying the Yaroslav Lokomotiv hockey team had crashed after take-off. I started to scour for more information and as more information came available, the bleaker the news. I remember that there was confusion whether Ruslan Salei was on board the plane, with some tweets and news outlets saying that he had been in touch with his family, or that he had traveled to Minsk ahead of his team. 

When the news came through that most of the people on board the plane had perished, I just stopped. I went into a state of shock and disbelief. There were players on the plane I had watched play, met (Karlis Skrastins while he played for TPS in Finland) and whose hockey cards I had in my collections. When the televised images from Yaroslav came through with the fans in mourning, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom and I cried. I felt for the families of those who were lost and the fans of the team. 

The rest of the day was a blur, watching and reading the reactions and the overwhelming support that fans of the sport andRussia Crash beyond showed their condolences to the victims and their families. 

I remember that my team had a game the weekend after the disaster and rightly, as most games across the world, held a minute of silence in respect to those who the hockey community lost. I remember tweeting that the best way to remember those who perished was to play and enjoy every game you play, as those aboard the plane did. They made their childhood hobbies into a job and loved every minute of it. 

Three years on and the pain of the loss – I can only imagine – is still intense for the families, but on the 7th of September, millions of players and fans world wide will spare their thoughts and condolences to the families of those that were lost. 

We will remember them. 

 Yaro2 


SuccessisbuiltFans always expect that their teams perform well – and ideally win every game – and fans have the absolute right to want success. There are expectations that teams and players need to meet, week in and week out. There are the expectations for the entire team from the fans and on an individual level, the expectations from the coaching staff.

 

Success is something that every player wants. For their team and for themselves. Otherwise, why play the game if you don’t want to succeed and not feel the elation of winning a game. Success is something that doesn’t magically happen on a game night. It is a long, drawn-out process throughout countless hours of work, sweat and pain. Success is built when there are no eyes on you. It happens at the gym, it happens on the roads, it happens on the bike. It even happens on the trainers table or with the physiotherapist. Success is built when you are on the ice with your team. It is built in bag skates, flow drills, set plays. It is built by countless and countless of repetitions of weights, drills, shots, jumps and miles pedalled on a bike.

 

Success is not something that is achieved overnight. Players can’t expect to be successful just by turning up to training and have the expectation that their effort on the ice will guarantee them success in the long run. The hockey season is a gruelling ride, with all its bumps and bruises and frustrations. What the fans see, is the culmination of all the work that has been taking place out of sight.

 

Success requires commitment. It requires hard work. It requires sacrifice. It requires discipline. It requires a goal, something that unifies a group of individuals to come together and work for that goal. It means leaving personal differences aside and playing for the logo on the front of your jersey and for the goal of becoming a champion.

 

The commitment fuels motivation and success, that success will player through a rock when it comes to crunch time. But all this underpinned by the work that each player does on and off the ice when the stands are empty and when no one is watching you.

 

The signs of success, are not seen on the ice in a 60 minute game. It is seen in the sweat dripping on to the gym floor and on to the ice.  

Review: CCM Resistance Helmet

Posted: September 1, 2014 in hockey, ice hockey, Sports

CCMRES1The CCM Resistance is the first major helmet re-design since CCM introduced its Vector line of helmets a few years ago. While the shell of the helmet still bears a resemblance to the old V-line of helmets, it is a completely new helmet and a first for CCM in many ways.

 

The helmet has a one-piece shell design and a single point of adjustment at the back of the helmet. In a lot of ways this helmet is directly comparable to Bauer’s IMS range (the old Messier project helmet) and Bauer’s RE-AKT (though RE-AKT uses a two piece shell).  The news of CCM’s helmet redesign came in 2012 Forbes article, where the company said that it would be taking direct aim at its competitors and with its unique selling point being the reduction of concussions caused by rotational impact forces. Rotational impacts occur during hockey game, not only from direct impacts to the head. These forces create a spinning effect that can be devastating to a player. Bauer first introduced reduction system in its RE-AKT helmet and some of the features from the RE-AKT can be found in the top of the range IMS helmet.

 

Where CCM claims it has made significant strides in research towards reducing these impact forces, it is still worth bearing in mind that – like with any helmet – they do not protect you 100% from a concussion. Like the IMS range from Bauer, the emphasis is on the reduction of the risk of a concussion.

 

The inside:

What’sCCMRES2 new about the helmet is its Rotational Energy Dampening (R.E.D) system. This is a series of red gel pods that are placed between the shell and the liner of the helmet. The R.E.D system is complemented by an impact pod that sits on top of it, similar to the Seven Technology developed by Cascade sport for the Messier Project helmet (now Bauer’s IMS range). The way that the two technologies differ is that the IMS helmet’s Seven Technology pods have been designed to return to their original form after multiple impacts, which reduces some of the rotational forces and follow on impacts, such as hitting your head on a plexi and then on the ice. In the Resistance helmet from CCM, the R.E.D system with the impact pods have been designed to slow down the rotational forces, as well as spread the impact energy throughout the helmet, as opposed to the head absorbing the full force of an impact (both rotational and linear impacts).

 

The impact pods and R.E.D system is covered by CCM’s traditional EPP foam that it has used across the Vector line of helmets and other protective pieces of equipment.  The EPP foam is used to bring an added level of comfort and to help shape the helmet to suit on player’s head shape to further improve fit.

 

Fit:CCMRES3

As with the M11 helmet that we reviewed few years ago, one of the big benefits of the helmet was its fit. The same goes for the CCM Resistance helmet. Thanks to its single point tool free adjustment, you can get the helmet to fit comfortably on your head and ensure that the helmet doesn’t move away from its place.

 

CCM has achieved this, similar to the RE-AKT and IMS helmets, by placing the adjustment tool by the occipital bone. Similar to the M11, this reduces the pressure that you sometimes get with helmets where the adjustment is done on the sides as the adjustment is done by tightening the helmet around the forehead. Another positive from the single tool adjustment at the back of the helmet is that it reduces some of the weak points seen in helmets where adjustments are made on the side.

 

You can quite comfortably shake your head with the CCM Resistance helmet on and it will not move out of place. This is so key in the modern game as many concussions and head injuries happen when the head makes contact with the ice and/or boards whilst it is out of place. By keeping the helmet securely on the head, it will do a better job at absorbing the impact forces.

 

However, it is important to note that it will take a few times to wear it to achieve the perfect fit and the first couple of times that we wore the helmet, it felt awkward on the head, but it finds its fit quickly. (To be fair, the tester has a funnily shaped head to begin with so every helmet takes a bit longer to break in).

 

Once the helmet has been broken in, it is almost un-noticeable on the head. There is no compression or discomfort and the degree of airflow the helmet provides is superior to some of the other helmets on the market.

 

However, the biggest thing for us – like with the M11 – is the fit. Once you have adjusted the helmet to sit on your head, it will not move from its place with ease. You would have to be rocked pretty hard, or

 

Fitting visor/cage:

The slight downside we noticed with the helmet was when it came down to fitting a visor on the helmet. It was a fairly fiddly process, thanks to the EPP foam padding that sits just in front of the mounts for the visor. Also, we prefer to wear our helmets without the ear guards and these were particularly tricky to remove as they are glued into the foam. We understand that they are there to protect the ears from any direct impacts, but like a lot of pro-players, we prefer to wear the helmet without the guards.

We fitted the Hejduk H700 Pro-line visor to it. We had to do a fair bit of tweaking around the visor as part of it wouldn’t sit on the helmet properly thanks to the curved design of the helmet. The visor fit eventually, but it wasn’t the most straight forward of tasks we’ve undertaken on a helmet. We also tested it with the Hejduk MHX visor and Oakley’s Pro Cut visor, both of which were easy to adjust.

It is therefore worth speaking to your retailer about the best fitting visor as some visor designs might make it a bit tricky to fit.

 

We are not sure whether removing the ear guards will void the warranty of the helmet, so it is something that you might want to check with your retailer when purchasing the helmet. Removing the ear guards hasn’t changed the fit of the helmet or damaged the liner or pods so the helmet is still safe and secure to wear.

 

The CCM Resistance helmet (and other helmets in the range) can be purchased with a cage combo, so if it’s your thing to wear a cage, you might want to go for the combo helmet to avoid some of the fiddling around.

 

Overall

CCM has invested a lot of time into the design of the helmet, and in the process it has designed a helmet that is comfortable and is housed with great technologies. Admittedly – and this goes for every helmet on the market – it won’t prevent concussion from happening, but like its competitors (RE-AKT and IMS series) it has been designed to reduce the risk of sustaining one. One of the big things for us has been the fit of the helmet as it won’t move from its place once adjusted appropriately. The Resistance helmet is a major improvement on the V-10 helmet and definitely one of the industry leading helmets, both in design and protection.

We would thoroughly recommend the CCM Resistance helmet to any player who wants to ensure that they have the best possible protection for their head. However, our recommendation would be to tryout as many helmets as possible to find the most suitable one for your head and for your playing purposes.

 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Significant improvement from the V-10
  • Excellent fit. Does not move out of place
  • Easy to adjust
  • Good ventilation throughout

Cons:

  • Fiddly to remove ear protectors (Check with your retailer if this voids warranty)
  • Check with retailer which visor makes are most suitable

 

#Stopbullying

Posted: September 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

Dear student returning to school or just starting your educational journey,

If you see someone at school who has no friends or is being bullied because they are ‘different’, shy or because he/she doesn’t have the trendiest clothes or gadgets, go and stand up for them and tell the bullies to STOP!

You can make a real difference into someone’s day by just saying “hi” or by smiling at someone who may not have any friends. It only takes 17 facial muscles to smile, so put them to good use.

There is NOTHING cool about bullying and a student that goes and stops it is way tougher and braver than bullies will ever be.

(This was originally published on the Extreme Dudeson’s facebook page in Finnish, but the message is pertinent and something worth sharing).

 

With the way we communicate today, bullying doesn’t always stop at the school yard, but extends to the life at home via the internet and can have a huge impact on a child’s life (or anyone’s for that matter). If you are being bullied at school and/or online, make sure that you talk to your teachers/parents/friends about it, so that it can be stopped. It is NOT a sign of weakness to tell someone.

 

To those who know/witness bullying, like the above message says, go and stop it, or go tell your teacher.

There are good resources on line such

as: http://www.stopbullying.gov/, http://www.childline.org.uk/Explore/Bullying/Pages/Bullying.aspx?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=UK_GO_S_E_GEN_New_Grant_ChildLine_Bullying&utm_term=stop_bullying&gclid=CJrwq6jXv8ACFVDItAod-xIACA&gclsrc=aw.ds, http://www.kidscape.org.uk/?gclid=CJDgvrXXv8ACFSKWtAodCF8AoA

 

The frustration mounts

Posted: August 1, 2014 in fitness, hockey, ice hockey

I haven’t been updating people much on the shoulder operation recovery in the past few months, but that’s mainly because there hasn’t been much to update on. I saw my consultant a week ago and I was allowed to return to weight training, which I felt was great news, and to be fair it is great news. It beats doing just body weight exercises, but the return to the free weight area hasn’t been as straight forward as I had hoped.

 

I posted a picture on Instagram of what I can bench at the moment.  Lifting just the bar is far from ideal at this stage, but I sort of understand it. I have had three months off and not loading the right arm with any weight. What is still more frustrating is that I can’t seem to get the full range of motion into the lifts. I guess those are the anchors that are holding the joint back.

 

It has been fairly frustrating as I haven’t been able to complete some of the exercises thanks to the joint not having full range of motion with a weight load on it, or that the joint is still sore when trying to do something like a power clean or a clean w/jerk.

 

I was never the biggest of guys in the gym, but I’ve gone to the guy in the weights area that is using a 2kg weight to do flyes and deadlifting 20 kg, I’m trying to understand that it is all part of the recovery process. I think the reason why it is so frustrating is because I had expected that I would just waltz right on in and start lifting the amounts that I had been before the operation.

 

Maybe it has only now dawned on me, that the injury that I carried was a rather big deal, if it required this amount of fixing.

 

What I’m now focussing on in physio therapy is to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, which is fine and I actually quite enjoy it, as I can see some progress. The least enjoyable part of the whole recovery process is the stretches that I have to do.

 

What I’m doing at the moment is laying on my right hand side on a bed/couch with my arm bent in a 90 degree angle. I then need to use either my left hand or a stick to push my right arm down. The pain is excruciating, almost to the point that I almost want to throw up, but it is essential that I do it, or otherwise it will affect life on and off the rink. Permanently. The first few are painful, but after two or three stretches I can get my arm below the line of the mattress. But I’d need to get it to bend good 20 degrees more. In terms of pain, that is the single most painful thing about this whole process, apart from waking up right after the operation.

 

But as the old Finnish proverb goes: “Onwards, said grandma while stuck in the snow.”

Giving Up Is Not An Option

Posted: July 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

Over the years some of you have gotten to know me through my various injuries. Being vain, I was standing in front of the mirror this morning and looked through the scars I’ve accumulated and then started to think, ‘who in their right mind would still keep at it?’

 

Through all the fractured bones, the debilitating back pains, knee pain, shoulder, concussions, groin, pulled hamstrings and so on, who the heck would still go into the sport that caused many of these injuries. That list excludes any muscle fatigue and pains from the gym. Yeah, that’s right, this guy!

When I made the decision that I would give hockey one more shot (apart from playing beer league), I had already suffered with a knee injury that had made it near impossible to walk on the affected leg. Yet I turned up at trainings, games and went to the gym even if it meant that I couldn’t walk the next day. I underwent knee surgery to fix years worth of damage to the ligaments and the meniscus to enable me to get back to the game.

 

The stupid thing is that most of the injuries (apart from surgery and the “big” concussion), I have hardly missed a game. Whether it was dealing with back issues, or pulled muscles, or whatever, there was always something driving me to get up and battle through it. Sometimes it worked and sometimes, well, it didn’t.

 

But why? Why put yourself through all of that pain? To me, giving in to some of the issues would be a sign of weakness. I guess I’ve bought into the ‘hockey players are tough’ mentality and I felt that I could still help my team. This is why I opted to delay in getting my shoulder surgery until after the season. Even though it hurt like hell at times and if I had a chance to change things, I’d still wait till the season was done. It’s difficult to express it in words, but my mentality is that I need to give everything that I have. The shelf life of an athlete is short and I want to enjoy every minute of it, no matter how painful it may be.

 

If I look to draw from those kinds of experiences, I can easily relate them to everyday life and in a lot of ways going through injuries has made me mentally tougher and given me the ability to deal with stressful situations better in the business environment. Even now when recovering from shoulder surgery, I was allowed to start lifting weights and all I can bench now is the bar, with no weight. For some the easiest answer would be to just say fuck it and give up. To me it is a challenge. I look at that bar, and I think to myself that within 3 months I am going to load that with 100kg weight and lift it.

 

Hockey is a game about rising to a challenge, game in, game out. Everything that you do off the ice must re-enforce that mentality. There should not be an easy way out. No matter how skilled you are, you need to put in the work. On the flipside what you lack in skill you make up for in work ethic. The harder you work on and off the ice, the better and more valuable you will be to your team.

 

Despite all the scars, the aches and pains, I would not change anything. Giving up is not an option. The only way is up, no matter what. 


photo 4

Stick specs
Flex: 75
Weight: Approx 375 grams
Blade pattern: PP88 (Ryan II)
Grip coated

photo 1Sher-Wood Rekker EK 15 came out with a lot of buzz around it during launch. The stick was advertised to be the lightest stick on the market (With Stastny curve). The stick has been in use from December onwards and has been used in league level play and training. Below are our findings:

First impressions:

At delivery, the first thing we noticed was how light the box was. It felt like there was nothing inside and once the stick was un-boxed it felt ridiculously light. The Rekker EK15 feels like a perfectly balanced stick when you hold it in your hands and you can feel that you are holding a high quality product.

The product itself is clean and didn’t come with any warehouse dust or any paint scraps which can sometimes make its way onto a stick. Sher-Wood says that it uses a “handmade manufacturing process” that reduces the chances of defect on sticks. The aim of this process is to make the stick more durable and to remove surplus materials, which can add to the weight, balance and durability of a stick.

The Rekker EK 15 uses carbon fibre that is 30% lighter than the ones used in other sticks which gives it that light feel. As with other light sticks and testing out the flex on it, the first question we want answered is that how durable is it and will it handle a slap shot without breaking. The 75 flex stick is new to us as we have previously used mainly 85 flex sticks so the Rekker EK 15 is a new frontier in that respect.

In terms of looks, Sher-Wood opted for a slick black coating on the stick with the branding in white on the shaft of the stick. This time the branding is visible on the shaft, something that was lacking in the Nexon range as it tended to warp around the shaft in the higher range models.

On the ice:

photo 3

The Sher-Wood Rekker EK15 comes with a new VRF 2 blade, designed to give your stick a ‘new’ feel for longer

Using the Rekker EK15 on the ice for the first time was an eye opening experience. Having reviewed the Nexon 12, we knew that Sher-Wood is capable of producing great sticks where you get an amazing feel for the puck. Given that the EK15 is lighter than the Nexon range, we wondered whether the stick was actually able to provide a similar feel.

From the first time we handled a puck we realised that the stick provides a feel that is equal to, or even better to the Nexon range. The feel is comparable to Warrior’s Covert DT1 stick. Both sticks provide a great feel for the puck and feed it straight to your hands.

One of the big improvements we noticed on the stick was the blade. On the preceding model, the Nexon range, the blade had a tendency to give out quite soon into the life of the stick, so you lost a bit of feel and a bit of the ‘pop’ when that happened.In terms of shooting, the Rekker EK15 provides amazing pop. This is thanks to the new VRF 2 core in the blade (VRF stands for Vibration Reduction Foam). What the VRF does, is it keeps the blade and the stick feeling like new for longer. With new sticks you get that crisp and great pop on all the shots, but over time the blade gives way. As said, the Nexon range was prone to giving up at the blade, but after 6 months of active use, the Rekker EK 15 still has that ‘new stick feel’.

The stick also has a flex free zone, which means that it has a four inch area at the top and providing you don’t cut below this zone, the flex doesn’t change. What some other manufacturers have, such as Bauer, the stick comes at a certain flex, but the flex changes by how much you have to cut down the stick. Say your 85 flex stick might actually be a 90 flex after you’ve cut it down.

In terms of kick point, the Rekker EK15 has a really low kick point to getting a shot off quickly.

In six months of use, the blade and stick still feel new, an upgrade from the Nexon range.

In six months of use, the blade and stick still feel new, an upgrade from the Nexon range.

The Nexon range had a low kick point, but the Rekker EK range has an even lower kickpoint. Indeed, when shooting, the stick is easy to load for a quick release snap and wrist shot.

This stick is suited to the players who are looking for something that provides them with a quick release and want to have that crisp feel to their stick for longer, also if you’re a player who loves to dangle, this is the stick for you.

After six months of use, the only damage that is on the stick, is the grip coating coming off at certain parts of the shaft, so that is something we hope Sher-Wood will look into in future iterations of the stick. However, it still feels like new when you’re shooting, despite having a few skate scuff marks on the blade.


Price:

Additionally to the great features found in the Sher-Wood Rekker EK15, the price point is an amenable one when comparing to some of the other top of the range sticks on the market. You can pick up the Rekker EK15 for approximately €30-70 cheaper than the top of the range sticks when compared to the likes of CCM, Bauer, Easton and Warrior. The stick retails at approximately €199 in Europe or £288 in the UK (depending on retailer).

Overall:

photo 5The Rekker EK15 is a great stick that more than holds its own against the other top marquees. It is a feature rich stick that provides you with great feel for the puck and is easy to load and release. If you are shopping for a stick, it should definitely be one of the sticks that you need to try out when you’re going through the stick rack.

Pros:
• Light weight
• Excellent price point for top of the range stick
• Quick release on shots
• True one piece throughout
• Stronger blade than on predecessor models

Cons:
• Grip coating has started to come off after extensive use