No two hockey sticks are exactly the same. Thousands of hockey players around the world break-in and customize their sticks in their own ways. But why not just buy it off the rack? Most hockey players use a different kind of hockey stick depending on their position, size, weight, handedness and preference.
The vast majority of players will buy their sticks from retail stores with varying preset blade curves, lie and flex. But some players on high level or professional teams get the chance to order custom made sticks.
These preset sticks range from $20 to $400, with the lowest prices being associated with youth sticks for children and the highest being the top-tier sticks used by teenagers and adults. These prices are affected by the latest innovations and materials the manufacturers are using and the performance or weight of the stick is what separates the mid-range from the top-of-the-line stick.
Curves affect the actual curve of the blade, the bottom part of the stick, and some players prefer less of a curve in order to have more surface area on the back of the blade for a backhand shot, whereas other players may prefer a larger curve in order to have more loft of the puck on the forehand of the blade.
Lie is the angle the shaft of the stick is at when the blade is flat on the ice. Lie ranges from values of 4.0 to 7.0, with 7.0 being the tallest angle, and 4.0 being the lowest. Lie preference generally comes down to the player’s stickhandling style, as some may desire a lower angle to handle the puck further away from their body with the blade still flat on the ice and some may desire stickhandling closer to their body.
Flex is the ease or stiffness of the shaft of the stick and it is widely determined by dividing half of the player’s body weight. However, just like any specializations with sticks, everybody has their own preferences.
In the National Hockey League, (NHL), the world’s premier players have full freedom over their sticks. A prime example is Vegas Golden Knights player Phil Kessel, who uses a stick flex below 70 on his custom-made Warrior-branded stick.
A flex below 70 for most adult players is extremely easy to bend, resulting in fluttering shots or wild passes. But for Kessel, a low flex allows for him to take a quick and snappy shot while in his skating stride.
Ethan Zielke, forward for Lindenwood University (NCAA Division 1), said that his specifications are key to his success.
“The biggest thing that comes into play for me is my curve. I don’t like a big hook on my blade because I wouldn’t be able to make a pass and I would be sending shots way over the net,” Zielke said.
Zielke also uses a maximum blade height specification on his stick that adds more surface area on the blade, allowing for an increase in batting pucks out of the air or winning face-offs.
Hockey is a highly personalized sport from painted goalie masks to custom gloves. But the most iconic piece of equipment will forever hold the spotlight, the hockey stick.