InGoal Puts Reebok XLT Rebound Claims To The Test
Instead of P5, the newest incarnation of the iconic Premier Series debuted as the Reebok XLT.
Turns out there was a good reason for breaking from a naming tradition that started when the father-and-son design team of Michel and Partrick Lefevre introduced the original Premier more than a decade ago.
The new name wasn’t a marketing ploy. It was about a modified and improved core of the pad.
XLT stands for CrossLink Technology.
The Lefevres had been using cross-linked foams for, but changed the mix in the new XLT. By placing more expensive foam with a harder outer skin closer to the face of the pad, they gave goalies everywhere what NHL puck-stoppers have always relied on from Premier pads: Consistently longer rebounds that buy them time to recover.
“You don’t want the puck to stop five, six feet away from you,” Corey Crawford told InGoal Magazine after testing the XLT at Reebok’s Goalie Summit in Montreal. “You want it to kick out a little bit further away from you and you want to give yourself a chance to get over and get to the rebound. I definitely like a pad that is going to give me time to recover with those long rebounds instead of short ones.”
Reebok’s Premier line has always delivered those rebounds at the highest levels, but it’s easier to create an active bounce off the face of the pad when pucks are coming at the goalies in the 80- to 100-mile-an-hour range. So what about the rest of us that don’t face shots that hard? How do we get the same type of active rebound?
That’s where reconfigured foams in the XLT come in.
“We’re trying to give other players the same rebound Corey Crawford gets in the NHL,” said Sonya Dibiase, business leader of the Reebok and CCM goalie division. “It’s the exact same foam Corey will have in his pads in the NHL, but it’s designed to react to a soft shot the same way a pro pad does to those harder shots he sees.”
It’s a big enough change to warrant a new name, even if the pad itself doesn’t look a lot different from its predecessor on the outside.
“It looks like a P4, with all the leg options and features, but it’s really about what pad does for pros and making one that will do the same thing at retail for lower-level players facing softer shots,” Dibiase said. “It’s about buying them some time through longer rebounds – time to recover. When we tested in our lab we found when we changed the foam we could create the same rebound off a 60 kilometer an hour shot as you would have at 80 or 90. I’m not going to say this is revolutionary: We have a great base with the Premier product. We just want to make it better. We want to enhance it. This did that.”
It’s a good idea and an easy claim to make, but does it work?
InGoal Magazine put the XLT to the test. The anecdotal feedback from regular testers indicated rebounds felt livelier off the face, but that was the expectation going into their ice sessions, so it was clear that a more definitive test was needed this time.
So we borrowed a puck-shooting machine from a local goalie school and over the course of several hours set out to compare rebounds off the face of the previous-generation P4 and the new XLT pad.
The results backed up Reebok’s rebound claims.
We started with a harder, pro-level shot of 80 miles an hour.
The Reebok P4 produced an average rebound just over 23 feet. The new Reebok XLT averaged 25 feet on rebounds.
The bigger differences came as the speeds dropped.
With the puck-shooting machine set at 55 miles an hour, rebounds off the Reebok P4 finished between 10 to 13 feet. At the same lower speed, rebounds off the Reebok XLT went 16 to 23 feet, a difference of between six and 10 feet in the length of the average rebound.
Even the shortest rebounds off the new Reebok XLT travelled further than the longest off the old P4, and that gap remained as the shot speed was lowered down into the 40 mile-an-hour range.
Was it an exact science? No. Puck-shooting machines are fickle and hard to aim, so hitting the exact same spot on a pad from 30 feet over and over isn’t easy, especially when the machine tends to move slightly on the ice each time.
Slightly damaged pucks can also make a big difference in how it comes out of the machine. But we fixed the location of the pad to keep it steady against impact, and while the numbers may not survive a scientific review, the difference at lower speeds was obvious and supported Reebok’s XLT claims.
Another trend that became evident during testing: shots that hit down near the boot, or travelled down the face of the pad and off the boot before propelling away from the goalie, were more likely to end up in the corner or below the goal line off steeper, stiffer boot angle of the XLT pad compared to other pads with a flatter, softer boot.
You can read more about the Reebok XLT testing in the September edition if InGoal Magazine by clicking here, or on the image below: