Ice Hockey Stick Blades
The blade of ice hockey sticks can be different sizes, usually have some sort of curve, vary in the angle they lie on the ice compared to the shaft of the hockey stick, and have different shapes. Each feature serves a different function. Hockey tape can add even more characteristics to them.
You should mix and match hockey stick blade features to your size, skill, style, position. Memorize the specifics of your preferred blade so purchases of future hockey sticks will be easier.
The blade of a hockey stick is comprised of the heel, the back part of the blade that is closest to your feet when holding your hockey stick straight in front of you with the blade touching the ground; the face, which is the front of the blade that most often comes in contact with the puck; and the toe, the end of the blade that is farthest from you when holding your hockey stick straight in front of you with the blade touching the ground. Hey, you’re holding that stick with both hands, right? Good!
Hockey Stick Curves
The first thing most players think about on the blade is the curve. Curves can be configured differently. They can start close to the heel, the toe, or in the middle. A curve can be a big hook, or the blade can be straight.
Beginning players should buy straight blades to learn puck control when playing hockey. Stick blades directly affect stickhandling, passing, and shooting in a variety of ways.
- Huge Curves:
- Will impede one’s ability to let a backhand shot go.
- Make stickhandling interesting, as the puck bounces at different angles from different points off the back of the curve.
- Make less point of contact for the puck when it’s on the back of the stick blade, so it’s harder to control.
- Passes become a little more difficult to keep down on the ice.
- Forehand shots become unpredictable for defense and goalies.
- Deep pocket makes it easier to cup the puck and will make pass reception easier.
- A defined pocket usually keeps the puck in the same place on the blade.
- Put more of a spin on the puck with forehand shots, and possibly more speed.
- Less of a curve is better for stickhandling, dekes, dangles, and setting up plays with brilliant passes.
Where The Curve Starts
If the curve commences near the toe, you’ll have a lot more straight blade before the curve, which is good for stickhandling.
The Face Of The Blade
The face is the way the blade tilts and can make the blade lean forward or backward. It’s another key feature that affects shots, dekes, and stickhandling. The face of the blade can appear kind of twisted, and that twist can begin near the heel, the toe, or the mid section. Stickhandlers will probably avoid blades where the lean or begins at the middle because that may impede puck control.
The angle of the face of the blade can change the loft of the puck when performing forehand shots; open face having the same effect as a golf pitching wedge — it makes high shots easier.
The lie you need will depend on whether you’re an upright or leaning skater. You want as much of the bottom of the blade on the ice as possible because any tilt up off the ice can allow the puck to go under, and it can allow opponents to get their blades under yours to take the puck away if you have it. A flat lie will keep more of the hockey stick blade on the puck when stickhandling.
Some blades are bigger. Obviously adult blades are bigger than youth blades; both longer and taller. One adult blade can even be longer than another adult blade, and can also be higher. In fact, it can be not so high at the heel and higher at the toe, or the other way around. The size of the blade will add to the weight at the end of the stick and affect the balance.
The toe of the blade can be rounded or squared. Rounded will often help stickhandlers with toe maneuvers like the “toe drag”. Can you comment on any reasons to choose squared over rounded blades?
Yes hockey tape will hold the puck better, as will the grain of the tape. Some tapes are stickier on the outside than others for more grip on the puck, some are even textured. The grain of the tape is the direction you wind it onto the blade. Wrapping hockey tape from heel to toe makes layers that grip pucks better. Pucks have a knurl around the edge that your blade contacts, and tape can help hold on to it. Therefor it is good to tape the part of the blade that you usually use to control the puck, which may be the entire blade. Color may help camouflage the puck, or id you to your team mates. Stickhandlers often prefer white tape because it shows them, in their peripheral vision, where the puck is so they don’t have to look down at it.
You can customize hockey stick blades using heat and a vise. Just heat the blade until it’s flexible enough to be bent, then apply pressure to shape it as desired, and let it cool. A vise or clamps may be necessary. Keep in mind that the league you play in likely has restrictions on blades. The NHL imposes the following measurement restrictions on hockey sticks.
NHL Rule 10 (http://www.nhl.com/ice/page.htm?id=26286) states the following:
- blade length 12 1/2″ heel to the end of the blade
- blade height 2″ – 3″
- curve 3/4″ perpendicular line intersecting straight line between heel and toe