CCM Gains Edge With New JetSpeed FT2 Skate
No More Cowling, First 1-Piece Boot, and 3D Custom Fit in 8 Days
The first thing goalies will notice about the new CCM JetSpeed FT2 skates is what is missing.
For the first time ever, CCM goalie skates don’t have a cowling.
In its place is their new SpeedBlade XSG holder with a dial-based quick release system designed to eliminate the chances of the steel blade popping out when being hit by a puck or post.
This improvement is obvious. Getting rid of the cowling makes the JetSpeed FT2 the lightest CCM goalie skate ever and improves the attack angle, allowing goaltenders to hold their edges deeper in their stance, and making it easier to access that edge for butterfly pushes.
Before we quantify those improvements, however, it’s really important to note that is far from the only upgrade in the new JetSpeed FT2 goalie skate. It’s arguably not even the biggest.
CCM may be late to the party in eliminating the traditional cowling for a player-style holder, but they made up for it with a totally new one-piece boot and a 3D measurement-and-molding process capable of delivering custom skates fit to your foot in just eight business days.
These advancements in fit and custom options are big enough that it only makes sense to start this review there, before moving on and measuring other improvements like attack angle.
The custom mold process begins with a 3D scan of your foot.
CUSTOM SKATES AND THE FIRST ACTUAL ONE-PIECE BOOT
There are a couple things that jump out about CCM’s custom-skate process.
First, if you’ve never experienced it before with any other company, it’s just really cool to see their iPad-based scanning software create a 3D rendering of your foot in real time.
Second, if you have had your foot scanned for a custom skate before, it was probably while standing up, with your feet flat on the ground, which makes the CCM set up, with an angled, see-through base to rest your feet on while sitting down, stand out as unique.
So why would CCM need to be able to scan the bottom of your feet when others don’t?
That’s because they need to be able to scan your arch under the foot, which brings us back to the new, seamless one-piece boot, with CCM’s L1TEFRAME 360 EVO technology. It represents a significant evolution from previous skates, with no traditional outsole as the base of the stake, and therefore none of the old stitching or glue that others use to build a skate around that. It truly is a one-piece boot, designed to improve the connection between a goalie’s foot and the skate to create direct energy transfer, especially when combined with their customized fit.
The scan is used to drive the 3D construction of a custom last, built in CCM’s Montreal Factory – and yes, this is the actual InGoal foot, we’d recognize that bone spur anywhere 😉
Getting back to that custom process, it borders between cool and maybe even a little creepy once your scan is done. Remember that three-dimensional image that is created of your foot using the iPad? CCM doesn’t use that rendering of your foot to build your skate.
Instead, they use that imaging to create a last of your foot. Basically, CCM makes you a fake foot, a perfect replica right up past the ankle bone, and then uses that to build your custom skate around it. If you’re envisioning a pile of discarded fake feet in the back of a warehouse in Quebec, don’t worry, you weren’t the only one and it’s not what happens. But the pay off in fit and feel would be worth B-level horror movie dreams of fake feet coming to life anyway.
Once CCM has created your “fake foot,” there are two different ways they can build your skate.
3D CUSTOM MOLD or TOTAL CUSTOM PLUS
The first process is called 3D Custom Mold, and basically involves super heating a stock sized JetSpeed FT2 boot sealed around your foot mold, at temperatures that far exceed anything you could do in a retail store with a skate oven, essentially shaping it to match your foot. The only additional custom option is adding your jersey number to the tongue, but the big benefit, beyond the incredible fit, is the quick turnaround period of just eight business days.
The second option is Total Custom Plus, which is loaded with extra options, including an AS1 boot with the no-cowling XSG holder, but takes four weeks for delivery. The Total Custom option is still super-heated to fit your foot mold, but allow goalies to customize everything from sizing and width, including ¼ sizes and the ability to order a different size for each foot, varying the boot cut depth and boot height, choosing from different tongue options and having your name and number embroidered on it, plus additional lace, liner and padding options.
The results in both cases are a noticeably improved fit, which leads to a responsive skate.
InGoal Magazine’s test skates were Total Custom Plus, but other than additional embroidery, with “InGoal” on the tongue, our skates were completely stock in size and options.
As for the fit, the phrase “like a glove” comes to mind.
The first time we put them on, it made a suction-like sounds as the heel slid into the boot. It felt tight at first, and we purposely wore thinner socks than usual because we were expecting it, but on the ice, it quickly felt like a skate that had long been broken in. As snug as it felt because it was built to match the shape of our foot, there was no rubbing or pinch points, even though we never bothered to bake them in a skate oven before that first time on the ice. That remained true up past and including the ankle bone, which can be a problem area for some, because CCM scans up the ankle to create your foot mold, ensuring the custom fit doesn’t end with foot.
So why would you have to bake them if they were already super-heated to your foot mold back in the Quebec factory anyway? You don’t really, and we certainly haven’t felt the need, but even though it’s built for your foot, the materials are still new and a little stiff, so softening things up in a skate oven and wearing them for a bit, as we saw David Rittich do recently on social media with his new CCM JetSpeed FT2 skates, is still a good idea.
The only downside of CCM’s new custom molding process? InGoal only really had one tester because the skates were built to one specific set of feet, which goes against our usual philosophy of trying to get new equipment in as many different hands (or in this case, on as many different feet) and on the ice with goalies of varying ages and skill levels.
Fortunately, we were able to consult a couple NHL goalies about the custom fit.
Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights had his CCM AS1 goalie skate custom built.
“It was good, I put my foot on the plastic thing and they did the 3D scan,” Fleury said. “I feel good in it, only took a couple practices to break it in a little more and they were great.”
Marek Mazanek also had a custom AS1 boot but was the first to wear the new XSG holder in the NHL when the Vancouver Canucks acquired him last season. Mazanek said his switch from True was all about the losing weight and increasing durability, calling the fit and feel similar.
“These were much lighter so I just decided to jump,” Mazanek said. “It fits perfect.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
PERFORMANCE TO MATCH
Ok, that covers the new custom fit options, so let’s get back to those performance upgrades.
It makes sense to start with the new XSG holder, which replaces the cowling. By now it’s hard to imagine any goaltender not understanding the benefit of moving to a player-style holder, but we’ll go over it quickly just in case. Because the old cowlings wrapped around the front and sides of the skate to protect the toe area – a reinforced toe cap now serves that purpose on the JetSpeed FT2 – it was also the first part of the skate that hit the ice as a goalie got lower in their stance, or when they were trying to make a butterfly recovery push from their knees, with the plastic sometimes catching the ice at the expense of a skate edge and causing a slip out.
Skate companies started to trim back the inside edge of the cowling where it contacted the ice, before ultimately eliminating it altogether. The result was an improved attack angle, or the ability to hold an edge deeper into your stance, or establish from out of the butterfly without having to lift your knee as high off the ice as you did with a skate that had a cowling.
The other trend with skates has been taller holders and steel, which further improve that angle, and this CCM goalie skate checks both of those boxes compared to its predecessor.
So, how much better is the JetSpeed FT2 create compared to last year’s AS1, which featured CCM’s “Attack Profile Holder,” a modified cowling cut out to improve the attack angle?
Using a protractor, carefully aligned skate blades and a fixed camera, InGoal calculated the AS1 attack angle at 39 degrees, and the JetSpeed FT2 was right between 35 and 36 degrees.
Measuring the attack angle improvement in the new cowlingless Jetspeed FT2 (right) vs. the AS1 of last year (left) – a 9% improvement.
Measuring the attack angle improvement in the new cowlingless Jetspeed FT2 (top) vs. the AS1 of last year (bottom) – a 9% improvement.
While the trend towards low, wide stances has decreased as the game becomes more about lateral attacks and goalies recognize how a narrower stance can improve mobility for lateral pushes from the skates, there is still a benefit to being able to hold an edge longer and deeper into your stance. And there’s an unquestioned benefit to better attack angle on recoveries.
Using a little math, for an average 6-foot goaltender with a 20-inch floor-to-knee measurement, each degree saved means they have to raise their knee roughly 0.41 inches less off the ice to establish an edge to push laterally. So, in the case of the new XSG holder compared to the prior model, that same goalies should need to lift their knee more than an inch and a half less off the ice before they can establish an edge to recover, whether back to their skates or for a lateral slide.
That’s a difference worth noting.
It should allow goalies to grab an edge faster, while also reducing how far the pad comes up off the ice to make a butterfly recovery push, which means there is less space for a puck to slip under during that movement and it should be faster to get that pad back down to the ice.
Improved steel on the JetSpeed FT2 is part of this improvement. The SpeedBlade XSG1 runner is two millimeters taller, a nine percent increase from its predecessor, and the FT2 skate comes stock with the “black” version of the steel, an oxide treatment designed to increase edge life and better resist corrosion. Anecdotally, InGoal testers have found treated steel lasts roughly twice as long between sharpening and the SpeedBlade XSG1 Black is no exception.
One of the changes that we frankly didn’t notice out of the box involved the way the new XSG holder angles up at the front and the back. Mazanek was actually the one to point it out.
“The white part of the holder is angled so it gives you more edge if you need to push,” Mazanek told InGoal after one of his first practices with the Canucks (he has since been traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning but has yet to sign there). “If you try to push, because you have more steel, you can dig more into the ice, you have more edge. If the plastic went all the way down, you wouldn’t be able to cut into the ice as much. I absolutely love it. The steel is higher too.”
The other addition to the XSG holder is the dial-based quick release system, which is designed to make it easy to switch out the steel, even if you lose and edge during a game and have an extra set of sharpened blades on the bench, but without the risk of it popping out accidentally because of impact. The dial has to be turned several times before the mechanism releases, so one shot off the heel won’t be enough for the runner to come up accidentally. It’s easy to do, but the dial can get a little tougher to turn after you’ve been out on the ice for a while.
The JetSpeed FT2 is taller and noticeably more forward pitched compared to the AS1 skate that preceded it in the CCM line, courtesy of a steel-and-holder combination that is roughly one-quarter inch taller at the ball of the foot and closer to half an inch taller at the heel. The pitch (or attack) profile isn’t quite as forward as other brands and models. Bauer and the True two-piece are more aggressive. The FT2 measures roughly closer to a True one-piece.
For goalies that want more of a forward pitch, the extra steel and that angled holder at the toe come in handy, with plenty of steel to get a custom radius profiles a lot of goalies have switched to, and in the process putting in a bit more forward pitch.
The boot collar has a lower cut that is shaped and molded – CCM calls it an Asymmetric Flex Stance Contour – to make it easy to flex deeper into a stance from that neutral pitch, and the “Lundqvist loop” on the heel is big enough to easily run a bootstrap through for those goalies that still like to use one, but prefer to run it behind their skate rather than underneath.
The liner has TotalDri, which wicks away moisture to keep the skate dry inside, and abrasion protection, and the stock tongue includes molded lace bite protection and a Tritech Flex Zone to aid in that forward flex goaltenders need. High end features for a high-end skate.
Add it all up …
Of course, all those performance improvements in the new CCM JetSpeed FT2 goalie skate actually start with the improved fit and a rigid build, which reduces the amount of energy lost between the foot, skate and ice when a goalie makes a push. VH Footwear, which was bought by True Hockey, raised the bar when it came to custom skates and the concept of improved energy transfer, to the point some NHL goalies changed their sharpening profiles, not doing as deep as they used to with their edges because they felt so much more connected to them.
It’s too soon to say whether elite goalies will notice a similar difference in the new JetSpeed FT2 skate, simply because they are just now starting to adopt them (CCM didn’t have them ready for the start of the last NHL season and mid-season skate switches are rare), but if the early feedback from those that have is any indication, don’t be surprised if they do.
Catching up to their competitors with a no-cowling goalie skate that was frankly overdue is one thing, but CCM also raised other bars at the same time. By building a true one-piece boot that reduced weight by 60 percent from the previous model, and making 3D scanning and custom-fit skates available on such a short turnaround, don’t be surprised to see more of the JetSpeed FT2 goalie skate at rinks near you in the near future, and in more NHL locker rooms next season.
“They will switch to CCM soon,” Mazanek said with a smile.