It’s a sight that never ceases to amaze.
Goaltenders – or their parents – will spend several thousand dollars on new equipment, sometimes even on an annual basis, to make sure they have the latest and greatest in puck-stopping tricks and treats. But far too often when you look down at their feet, nothing has changed.
Forget new skates. It’s understandable if the old ones are comfortable and not yet broken down to the point they need replaced. But the boot and the cowling are not the only – nor are they necessarily the most important – part of the skates. The steel runner is ultimately what connects you to the ice, providing the base of a goaltender’s movements, and it’s amazing how often this crucial piece of equipment is neglected by so many.
Not that everyone is ignorant to its importance.
InGoal has already documented frequent steel changes at the NHL level, from Roberto Luongo’s every three weeks, to Jonathan Quick only having each set sharpened three or four times before a new one goes in. As this issue’s cover boy, Braden Holtby said: “Skates are probably the one thing I am more finicky about than the rest of my gear. Everything is based on your skates. If you can’t move, you can’t stop the puck.”
A consistent edge provides the foundation for every goalie’s game, whether skating or making butterfly recovery and backside pushes on the knees. So now that we’ve established the importance of skate blades, and the silliness of spending thousands on new gear while wearing steel ground down near the holder, it’s time to look at replacement options.
Thanks to Step Skating Blades, those options now go well beyond stock.
The Quebec-based company is trying to give goalies a better edge, not only by using lighter, more durable steel from Sweden, but also by offering a couple taller options for both Reebok and Bauer (in both 3mm and 4mm options). The original St-Goal blade is about 20 per cent, or 3 mm, taller than a stock Reebok blade, and 10 per cent taller in Bauer.
Goaltenders that want an even bigger edge can use the St-GoalXtreme blade, which are a full ¼ inch, or 30 per cent, taller than a stock Reebok blade, and 40 percent bigger than a stock Bauer blade. And in both cases, there are distinct cutouts in the taller blade, ensuring that even with the increased height, the Xtreme blade actually weighs less than stock.
So why use taller blades?
They provide a more aggressive “attack” or “push” angle to the ice before the cowling makes contact and there is risk of slipping out. Taller steel allows goalies to get their knees lower to the ice before the cowling makes contact. And going the other way, taller steel means a goalie already down in the butterfly does not have to raise the knee on their push skate as much before they are able to establish the edge they need to make a lateral push. The question is how much?
InGoal broke out a protractor to get a firm grasp on the differences.
See the complete results in the current edition of InGoal Magazine – you may be shocked at how much lower and wider goaltenders can get without losing their edge – with Extreme some can even hold it with the cowling touching the ice – in Step Steel.