Today's hockey sticks are highly technical and even the most experienced players may not fully understand all the terms and features of their stick.
Below are some brief descriptions that will help you with future purchasing decisions:
1 - A One Piece
A composite hockey stick where the blade and shaft are fused together and ready for use. Almost all pro players now use a one piece stick because they can be well balanced, lightweight and give players superior feel for the puck and harder shots.
2 - A Two Piece
A shaft and blade combination that come as separate units. The shaft can be composite, fiberglass, aluminum, graphite or a combination whereas the blades are either wood or carbon fibre. These were made popular because many players wanted to use a lightweight carbon fibre shaft and wood blade. Since good quality blades and shafts are still pretty expensive most people today opt to go with a one piece, even though a two piece can provide great value for people who go through a lot of sticks.
3 - True One Piece Construction
A composite stick where the blade and shaft are not fused together. An advanced technology you may see being referred to as compression molding or monocomp technology, is used to produce a lighter better performing hockey stick.
Note: this is typically only used in top of the line sticks, the traditional one piece along with most sticks on the market today are still fused together.
4 - Blade Toe
The end of the blade (furthest from the shaft). They are finished as either rounded or square and can be either open or closed (most toes are rounded and closed).
5 - Blade Heel
The heel of a hockey stick refers to the bottom of the stick at the back of the blade below where the blade and the shaft meet.
6 - Blade Patterns
Blade patterns consist of a number of different elements; curve type, curve depth, toe shape, face angle and lie. The chart below gives you an overview.
7 - Blade Curve Type
Curve types are typically defined as Heel, Mid-Heel, Mid, or Toe curve.
8 - Blade Curve DepthThe amount of curve in the blade at its deepest point.
9 - Blade Face Angle
Face angles are typically described as open, slightly open, or closed. The more open (you can see more of the front of the blade when looking down) the easier it is to lift the puck.
10 - Blade Lie
Describes how the blade sits on the ice. It is determined based on the angle of the blade in reference to the shaft:
Lie 4.5 = 136° angle
*Lie 5 = 135° angle
*Lie 5.5 = 134° angle
Lie 6 = 133° angle
Lie 6.5 = 132° angle
*Most popular lie patterns
11 - Hosel
Refers to the section of the hockey stick where the blade and the shaft come together.
12 - Butt end
Refers to the top end where the player holds the stick (also a penalty when you jab an opponent with it).
13 - End Plug / Extension
Typically retail sticks come with a 60 inch shaft, for players that need a longer stick they can add an extension by gluing the end plug into the butt end (not available for wood sticks).
14 - Hockey Stick Flex
A number that quantifies the level of "stiffness" of a hockey stick. Measured by the amount of pressure it takes to bend the stick 1 inch over a 1 meter span (Ex. If it takes 85 lbs then it is an 85 flex). The higher the number goes the stiffer the stick becomes. Below is an outline of flex information.
15 - Flex or "Stiffness" Profile
Refers to the manner in which the stick bends when the player is taking a shot. You will see it described as different kick points (Ex. Low, Low-Mid, Mid-Taper, amplified Mid)
16 - Resin / Resin System
Resin is added to the carbon fiber before baking the stick. It helps the fiber take shape and harden. Advanced resin systems will have ways of removing a lot of the access resin to make it lighter. Heavier/cheaper sticks often have lots of resin remaining.
17 - Grip
Refers to a coating on the shaft (that can come in different textures) for the purpose of improving the players grasp and feel.
18 - Matte/Clear Finish
The final coating of paint on a shaft that leaves a smooth surface so that the players can easily slide their bottom hand on the stick.
19 - Loading the shaft
Refers to the storage of energy in the shaft when the player is flexing the stick (the more energy stored in the shaft the more the puck can explode off of the blade).
20 - Kick Point
The kick point refers to the portion of the shaft that bends the most when the stick is flexed. This is the central point of energy when "loading the shaft".
21 - Low Kick Point
A kick point in the bottom portion of the shaft. Top end sticks are often engineered to have low kick points on the shaft for a quicker release (less distance from the blade = faster load and release). But should be noted that this comes with an increased risk of failure.
22 - Mid Kick Point / Amplified Mid Kick
Supports the complete force of the shot across the entire length of the stick. Often comes with a thicker hosel and stiffer lower portion so that the stick's primary bend point is in the middle of the shaft.
23 - Custom Kick Point
Refers to a kick point that varies based on the position of the player's lower hand. Designed to optimize a variety of different shots.
24 - Tapered Shafts
The bottom of the shaft becomes thinner as a strategy to move the "Kick Point" lower.
25 - Tapered Blade
The tapered shaft created a need for a new size of blade. The tapered bladed fits inside at a lower portion of the shaft (traditional blades do not fit inside tapered shafts and vice versa).
26 - Compression Molding
Refers to a high pressure molding process where layers of carbon composite are wrapped on a metal mandrel. The main advantages are that it gives the stick a consistent weight and balance and minimizes construction problems that lead to breakage.
27 - Balance
Where the balance point is in the stick. This significantly affects the overall 'feel' of the stick. Top end sticks typically have tremendous feel and balance compared to lower end models.
Note: wooden extensions can have a major affect on stick balance.
28 - Carbon Fibre Orientation / Laminate Design
A composite stick will feature up to 25 different layers of carbon fiber. Fiber angles and the order of these angles affect the overall makeup and performance of the stick. You will here manufacturers talk about different processes they use to maximize these layouts.
29 - Micro-Fractures
Micro-fractures will develop through game play in composite hockey sticks (often from face-offs, slashes, pucks, etc) which lead to failure and breakdown in the sticks "Pop". This is important to understand as various manufacturers advertise different ways of preventing micro-fractures.
30 - Pop / Whip
Refers to the sticks capacity for power when taking shots or the responsiveness of the sticks flex profile. With use sticks will lose pop or become 'whipped out'. Note: Top end sticks have significantly more Pop then lower end sticks.
As you can see, whether it be bare composite construction or nanomaterial reinforced, hockey stick designs have become incredibly complex. While performance and feel continue to improve, it's vital that both recreational and elite players alike understand the components fuelling today's stick advancements, allowing them to take full advantage of the technologies now at their disposal.
This article was put together by the Hockeystickman, an expert in hockey stick manufacturing and design. Make sure to keep up-to-date with his blog to get a leg up on the competition when it comes to purchasing the right stick for your game!
Until next time,