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CCM Premier Preview

Lab Tested Speed
When InGoal Magazine first checked in on the new CCM Premier line being worn in the NHL by the likes of Roberto Luongo, Ben Bishop, Corey Crawford and Marc-Andre Fleury, the focus was on a thinner, lighter pad that had redistributed the weight to improve performance.

That preview also teased a new strapping system designed and proven scientifically to get the new Premier pad to the ice faster, a claim many may have seen when this story gained traction in Canada: “Beer-league goalie (and PhD candidate) closes the five-hole with help of science.

That “beer league goalie” is none other than Ryan Frayne, a PhD Candidate in biomechanics at Western University who has been working on the industrial partnership research project between CCM and the school. And, as that story in the mainstream media outlined, Frayne’s research project produced some telling data about how to get a pad to the ice faster, information that was used when designing and manufacturing the new CCM Premier line. 

The question InGoal had was how? The assumption was always that the pad gets to the ice only as fast as the goaltender’s knee gets to the ice. Turns out that is wrong. 

The new CCM Premier was tested in the biomechanics lab at the University of Western Ontario. The result means faster gear for goalies everywhere.

Frayne started out studying the stress goaltending plays on hips, but as more and more junior-level goaltenders came through his lab he began to notice correlations between the seemingly random, personal way some strapped up their pads and how fast they got to the ice.

“When we graphed strap locations with respect to butterfly drop performance and butterfly drop velocity we noticed a trend for some of the straps but and everything was a wash on other strap locations,” Frayne told InGoal. “When it came to the calf strap, that’s really where the majority of the interaction is between the goaltender’s leg and the pad itself. Then when we started looking at the correlation for the top calf strap we started to see a relationship happening, where as the strap became more loose you are able to increase the butterfly drop velocity.”

Again, isn’t that speed determined by how fast the knee hits the ice anyway?

Using high-speed cameras and kinematic marker sets, Frayne realized that isn’t true.

“Obviously the knee pushing is going to drive the pad down and that’s the main point of contact for dropping to the ice but when you drive the pad down, the pad actually releases away from the knee before you make contact with the ice — it doesn’t stay in contact with the knee straight to the ice surface,” Frayne said. “What we noticed is when guys tied the top strap too tight it restricted that motion to what the leg is doing, but as soon as you loosen that strap off you can create a little mobility and push the knee into the knee stack and it initiates the downward motion and the pad actually starts to pull away from the knee about half way down to the ice, which is a really cool effect that we never would have expected to see.”

That doesn’t mean the top calf strap doesn’t have a purpose, or can be eliminated completely. As Frayne explained, that top provides an end stop point that is important to butterfly recovery mechanics. They considered going to an elastic strap, much like the one used to wrap around the knee from the knee stack, but that too eliminated that important stopping point. 

VANCOUVER, BC - January 11: Roberto Luongo #1 of the Florida Panthers in net against the Vancouver Canucks during their NHL game at Rogers Arena on January 11, 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain / InGoal Magazine)

Roberto Luongo switched to the ‘price style’ elastic strap this past summer. (Photo by Derek Cain / InGoal Magazine)

What CCM did determine was the scientific value of strapping the elastic from the kneestack down to the top of the outer calf wrap – just as Carey Price has been doing with his CCM Extreme Flex line for years now – so the new CCM Premier pad will come stock with a kneestack that does not have an outer flap to attach the kneestack Velcro strap to. While that flap is still a custom order option, the stock pad is designed to be strapped down to the outer calf, and while that may seem a bold move given how many goalies have never tried it, it’s a decision backed by science … and by Florida Panthers’ All-Star Roberto Luongo.  

“I noticed it right away when I made the switch this summer,” Luongo told InGoal.

Luongo made the change to “Price style” with the elastic strap from the kneestack but hasn’t eliminated the lower calf strap yet. Like a lot of goalies, he is a creature of habit, but Frayne’s research showed that lower leather calf strap did nothing in terms of performance except add the extra weight of another leather strap and metal buckle, so it too has been eliminated in the stock pad. While goalies will still be able to custom order the new CCM Premier pad with pretty much any set up they want, the new pad will come stock at retail with one leather strap at the knee, one leather strap at the top of the calf, and a removable leather boot strap.

“When it came down to it, after analyzing the data we realized there was a really marginal relationship between the bottom leather calf strap and speed to ice,” Frayne said. 

More than anything, Frayne added, goalies were using it to keep the pad tighter to the face of their shin, so CCM added a wider elastic strap on the calf wrap to still allow for that feeling. 

So how much faster does the CCM Premier get to the ice with this new set up? Testing showed an average of 1.75 inches compared to some other set ups, which is almost the thickness of two pucks. No wonder Luongo felt like he could notice a difference right away. 

As for our testers, well that will have to wait for the full review, which should be available soon after the CCM Premier launches on April 1. InGoal will also look at how to personalize your setup to take advantage of this increase, and try to capture some of that gap that Frayne found in his lab by using our GoPro and its 30-frames-per-second burst with our testers. 

We’ll also take a closer look at how the thinner profile of the new CCM Premier has helped some goalies right up to the NHL level get into and out of the Reverse-VH.

So keep checking back as we prepare for the upcoming launch, and in the meantime check out the CCM Premier customizer to get started designing your own set of the new gear.