Vaughn Adds Carbon Fiber to Improved Ventus LT98
Vaughn Custom Sports has updated its Ventus line for 2015, adding its Carbon Enhanced Performance technology to the line to create its lightest, most durable flat-faced pad to date: the all-new Ventus Pro LT98.
(Even better news: You can win new Vaughn gear, including the Ventus LT98, from InGoal by clicking here)
Unlike Vaughn’s Velocity models, which break up the carbon fiber layers to match the flex points of the pad, the Ventus pad has one piece connected to the foam core from top to bottom. That makes sense, since Ventus was never intended to play exactly like Velocity.
Where the flexible Velocity line is designed to be worn tighter to the leg and move with it, the stiffer Ventus is intended to fit a bit looser around the leg, allowing the leg to move within the pad with minimal resistance when transitioning into and out of the butterfly.
Already one of the lightest flat-face pads when it debuted in 2012-13, adding carbon fiber to the new Ventus line not only reduces weight while improving durability, but placing that layer on the front of the pad creates an even more active rebound, buying the goaltenders more time to recover to the next position after making a save.
The 34+2 demo set InGoal Magazine received weighed in at just five pounds and two ounces, but that’s only part of the weight story.
With a stiffer boot break, the original Ventus already sat an inch taller than traditional Velocity pads, and based on feedback from their pro and junior goaltenders, Vaughn shortened the boot on the new Ventus LT98 pad and put that extra height into the shin. So it’s important to keep in mind when ordering a Ventus pad that the knee will sit at least one inch taller than a new Velocity model.
In other words, the Ventus fits taller, and since a 33+2 (the plus-2 is standard) weighs less than five pounds, it’s no wonder more NHL goaltenders have switched. It’s a list that includes Ottawa Senators goaltender Robin Lehner, James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Los Angeles Kings backup Martin Jones.
“What I noticed first is I felt lighter,” Jones told InGoal. “I felt quicker.”
Goalies will also notice that the Ventus pad, while stiffer than its Velocity predecessors, still has a fair bit of flexibility, especially above the knee, where it’s easy to add to the existing pre-curve. There is also more torsional flex across the face of the pad, allowing goalies like Lehner to strap them up tighter than most goalies might.
Jones also likes the blend of firmness and flexibility.
“The way I like to wear my pads, I like that it feels a little more secure on my leg,” Jones said. “I don’t wear mine too loose. For me the idea is to wear it just loose enough so it will rotate easily around my leg when I go down but tight enough that is still feels responsive, not like it’s floppy. That’s why I like these: they find the right balance.”
That’s not all the Canadian-made Ventus LT98 does.
The 2015 model Ventus also includes an all-new integrated knee and thigh-guard system as part of a wider landing area when dropping to the ice that also makes it easier to widen your butterfly.
This new knee and thigh-guard system replaces traditional thigh guards and includes a section that sits underneath the knee when a goalie drops into the butterfly. Vaughn also used a special high-impact EVA foam in the landing area of the knee stack, and when combined with the softer section of the new thigh-guard system that runs under the knee, it reduces the effect of repetitive impact from dropping to the ice.
This new inner-knee padding system includes a lot of adjustability and a carbon fiber insert that can easy be aligned with the center of the knee to both improve weight distribution and ensure optimal pad rotation speed. It also wraps nicely around the knee and lower thigh to provide improved protection compared to traditional thigh guards, and because it is connected to the pad with an elastic that runs across the back of the pad face, it provides an additional “connected” feeling at the knee:
But perhaps best of all for goaltenders who might still prefer to use a kneepad instead, this new system is easy to remove, and because of the thinner-faced pad, leaves the widest landing area we’ve seen on a Vaughn pad, making it easy to use oversized knee guards without fear of slipping off the kneestack or hindering pad rotation:
As any goalie can tell you, a wider landing area makes it easier to widen their butterfly:
Still, for goalies that prefer a traditional Vaughn knee cradle, with the extra foam padding against the face of the pad, it is also available as an option in the new Ventus LT98 pad.
The use of Vaughn’s Carbon Enhanced Performance material within an internal pro core that features multiple varying density foams improves the strength along the edges of the pad, improving durability by ensuring the pad holds its carefully designed shape and structure a lot longer. And stiffer foams along the inner edge of the pad not only help stabilize goaltenders in the butterfly, but also improve how well the pads slide on the ice.
Vaughn used easy-to-adjust buckles for the two leather knee stack straps and the strap atop the calf, making it easy for goalies to customize how they set up the strapping options for personalized fit, feel and performance:
Add it all up and the Ventus LT98 pad is a nice upgrade from, while still building on the ideals of, the original Ventus pad. Designed for goalies that like a slightly looser fitting pad that moves around their leg a little more, the improved knee area should make it even easier to widen the butterfly flare and improve coverage without sacrificing the mobility and flexibility to recover and react to second and third opportunities. Factor in more time from the longer rebounds – not to mention improved durability – with the addition of carbon fiber and it’s easy to see why more and more goalies are switching to this stiffer, flat-faced alternative to the traditional Velocity line.
Vaughn Ventus LT98 Trapper
The Ventus glove continues to be based on the popular “Epic” platform of the past, with similar thumb and palm molds and perimeter outline to the 5500/3500/8000 lines. That means a steeper thumb angle and more vertical break angle than a Velocity glove, with more of that “first baseman mitt” type of closure.
“The base pattern is one we’ve used for years,” Mike Vaughn told InGoal Magazine when Ventus launched. “It has one of the most universal fits of any glove I have ever built. It just fits so natural on the hand.”
There have, however, been improvements made in the new Ventus LT98 model.
Those improvements start with – but are not limited to – the addition of the Carbon Enhanced Performance, which replaces plastic in several key spots like the palm and fingertips. Not only does the added carbon fiber reduce the overall weight of the glove by close to 10 percent, but its ballistic properties improve protection, stability and durability.
Vaughn also made the pocket bigger in the new Ventus LT98 glove to improve catching performance.
The pocket, which comes stock as a single-T, is deeper and has a wider “T-top” to increase the amount of web area.
The top of the T also features new plastic support stays that extend into the body of the glove, keeping the pocket more open and durable over the life of the glove.
Vaughn is using Sure Grip on the inside of the palm, a textured grip that improves control and also features an antimicrobial treatment, as well as separate finger stalls for even control while closing the glove.
The back of the hand has a two-part closure that includes stretchable neoprene for more adjustability.
The strap over the wrist has been moved and a new comfort foam added to allow for a greater range of motion, making it easier to cock the wrist and present the glove square to shooters, whether in a finger-up or more traditional thumb-up position – even when the strap is pulled tight for a more secure fit.
Wrist mobility is also enhanced by a larger opening on the back of the cuff, which also reduces any interference with the chest-and-arm unit.
Finger inserts have been sewn in to reduce finger curl in the new Ventus LT98 glove, and select materials allow the glove to be heat formed to speed up break-in time.
The back of the glove is well padded and includes a high density protective strip over the fingertips to prevent damage from slashing sticks while covering pucks. The back of the glove also opens fully for easy drying between skates, and the new graphic makes it easy to mix the popular Ventus LT98 glove with equipment from the Vaughn Velocity lines.
Vaughn Ventus LT98 Blocker
Much like the glove and pads, the addition of Vaughn’s Carbon Enhanced Performance technology to both the face and side of the blocker not only reduces weight but also improves the protection and durability of the new Ventus LT98. That improved rigidity can also add an extra level of control for goalies because there is less give or twisting in the material when the puck hits the face of the blocker.
But the innovations don’t end there for the LT98 blocker.
They include the new patent-pending palm-tension adjustment, a string that attaches on the inside of the cuff and can be pulled or released to alter how tight and connected the hand feels against the blocker board.
Further down the back side of the new blocker, Vaughn is using a new “VX suede” palm instead of the Sure Grip they used to use on the palms.
This new synthetic leather material provides a similar feel to tradition Nash, but is more durable – it will stretch before it will rip – has better feel, and is sweat resistant so it won’t get crusty over time.
As you can see in the photo of the palm-tension adjustment, the side board of the LT98 actually overlaps into the side of the front board, which adds stiffness and reduces twisting on impact, while also increasing coverage on the side.
That added blocking surface is enhanced by the use of carbon fiber in the front internal foam core of the blocking board and the side shield.
A new thumb design includes a narrower, deeper profile for increased coverage, with a moulded carbon fiber section inside for lighter weight and increased impact resistance. The side includes a floating index side extension for better protective coverage that also provides more room and reduced wear around the stick opening.
The binding-less blocker board has a tapered edge at the bottom for better paddle-down movement and ice seal
The steeper, more severely angled break at the top of that blocker board not only prevents shots that hit high on the blocker from popping up dangerously, but also opens up more room on the backside, freeing up wrist mobility by reducing resistance between the top of the blocker and the chest-and-arm unit. And the hand is positioned slightly higher on the board, which extends the goalie’s reach and coverage down low at the bottom of the blocker.
Look for a full review of the new Vaughn Ventus LT98, with more feedback from test goalies, in a future edition of InGoal Magazine. And be sure to stay tuned for a future overview and review of the new and improved Ventus LT98 chest-and-arm unit featured in these photos.
In the meantime, enjoy more bonus shots of the new Vaughn Ventus LT98 line below, but first make sure you have entered InGoal’s contest to win new Vaughn equipment – Ventus or otherwise – by clicking on this ad: