Although imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, opting for the same gear your favorite NHL star has won’t help you play like the pros.
It could actually hurt – both literally and in the way you perform on the ice. Injuries due to poor-fitting gear, or a lack of proper gear altogether, are the most urgent matters to tackle.
“I’ve become a believer in wearing all equipment, from head to toe, and making sure everything fits properly,” said Scott Aldrich, operations and equipment manager for USA Hockey’s national men’s, women’s, and sled teams. “I won’t get into whether one brand is more protective than any other – equipment, in general, is good.
“The key is that everything fits well.”
The right fit is most important in regard to helmets, said Aldrich. If a helmet doesn’t fit properly, there’s more exposure to injury.
As far as additional protection, Aldrich recommends that adult players – at a minimum – wear a half-shield, if not a full facemask. Studies show that facemasks nearly eliminate all eye, face and dental injuries that come from playing the sport.
Remember: Most of us have to go to work tomorrow.
It’s important to make sure you’re using a stick that fits your ability. Too much or little flex can affect shooting, making and receiving a pass, and overall comfort in handling the puck.
“Adult players who are cutting sticks need to be careful not to cut them too short,” Aldrich said. “The more a stick is shortened, the stiffer the flex becomes, so get to one length that’s comfortable and stick with it.”
Remember: Just because you use Auston Matthews’ stick does not mean you will play like Matthews.
“A good fit helps with support and skating ability, so it’s important to wear the proper size,” Aldrich said.
Unlike younger players, it should be easier for adults to find the right size skates, simply because their feet have stopped growing. To find the skate that fits you best, Aldrich recommends a visit to your local pro shop or hockey equipment store, where staff members should be quite proficient at fitting skates.
Remember: You won’t skate like Dylan Larkin unless you practice your skating with good-fitting skates. And even then, you still won’t skate like him – but you will improve.
Lastly, emulating your favorite player, without taking into account your own size, skills, and level of play, can get expensive, too.
“In general, adult players don’t need to go top of the line,” Aldrich said. “The difference between one brand or another comes down to what you want to spend.
Remember: You don’t need to sell the farm to look like an NHLer when quality equipment is available at good prices. Save some of that money for ice time and post-game beverages.
“You may feel like you need to spend a lot of money on gear, but if you’re patient and do some shopping around, you’ll be able to find good deals on new or used equipment,” Aldrich said.