Ice Jacks vs Mooseknuckles/New Equipment First Take

Sunday night marked the first time I took the ice in my new Vaugn V9 equipment. Knowing I’d be a bit awkward in net to begin with, I decided now was also a good time to get my skates sharpened in possibly three years. Upon stepping on the ice I felt good in the equipment, awkward, but good. Unfortunately, the sharp skates were the real cause of discomfort.

First, the game. We faced off against the top-seeded team in the league, the Mooseknuckles. With the way I’ve been playing, new equipment, and sharp skates I was anticipating a high-scoring event. The Mooseknuckles came out with some quality shots, but I was able to see them all and stop them. I felt a bit stiff, but I was in a zone. The Mooseknuckle goalie wasn’t getting tested too much early on, but he was playing well.

After one period the score was 0-0 and my teammates commented on how well I was playing, commenting that it must be the new equipment. I was tested more in the second period, even had an opportunity to stack the pads to make a save. Since the Ice Jacks aren’t the team I normally skate with, guys in this league aren’t used to the two-pad stack. The guy who I stopped loved it and came up to me during the next stoppage to let me know. After two periods the game was still knotted at 0-0.

The third period was intense. We brock the deadlock early, then the Mooseknucles tied things up when their best skater shot through a screen narrowly beating me. A few minutes later a blocked shot resulted in three Mooseknuckle players in front of me without any defense to help me resulting in a shot I had no chance on. They were able to tack two more quick goals, one through traffic and the fourth a beautiful mid-air deflection off a save. Down 4-1 we took a penalty with about 3:50 to play. To start the penalty kill one of our players skated end to end, put his stick between his legs, and scored. With our penalty over and time winding down I headed to the bench and we pulled within one. Still on the bench for the extra attacker we had chances, but the Moosknuckle found a chance to get the puck out of their zone and into the empty net to seal the game.

We were missing a few players and are confident that if we face team Mooseknucle in the playoffs we can beat them if we play just as hard.

Now to my equipment and my quick, one skate review.

I’ve had my skates for about 20 years and have had them sharpened maybe 10-15 times. In college when I skated 6-7 times a week I’d get them sharpened once I got to campus at the start of school, then shortly before the summer break. I have never liked very sharp skates so each time I get them sharpened it takes a few skates to dull them down to my liking where I feel comfortable moving. I had them sharpened though because there were just too many knicks in the edges to where it was needed.

I took them to the legendary Twin Cities skate shop Strauss Skate and Bicycle. The place has a lot of history. It’s a small location with a lot packed inside. In the back is where you’ll find the skate service center. When I was there they had three sharpening stations going at one time. The guy who did my skates even got most of the rust off the blades.

When it came to the new equipment – see what I did there, I strung you along – it felt great to get it on. The breezers (that’s what we call hockey pants in Minnesota) are definitely bulkier than my old CCMs. I’m not a fat guy, but I felt like one bending over to tie my skates. The funny thing is, that with how bulky the breezes are, they felt snug.

When I started putting the pads on I had to experiment with where to lace up the toe ties. With my old pads, I didn’t want to pads moving around so I’d tie them down tight and run the laces to the back of the cowlings. For the first skate I keep the ties towards the front and was happy with that. For the leg strapping, I wasn’t sure what to do. I kept things a little tighter for the first skate because I didn’t want the pads moving around too much. I actually liked how the pads performed on the ice, but the strapping felt a bit too tight so I’ll loosen it a bit for the next skate (I have two pick-up skates this week and my regular game).

The gloves felt great. I was worried that the glove would still feel too stiff, but once I got on the ice I didn’t give it much thought. I even caught a few pucks in the glove. There was a shot in the third period though that popped out, not into the net though. The blocker felt great. Very light and solid. When I’d rotate my old blocker quickly you could feel the board still move. Not on the new one – it is solid. The added protection on the inside of the hand though took some getting used to. I don’t feel as though I’ve got as good a feel of my stick as before. I assume I’ll get used to that though.

After one skate I’m very happy. Everything seems to fit great. Now I just need to get my strapping dialed in.

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