Summer Gear Sessions: CCM Extreme Flex Pro re-Review
It may be the summer but there is no real offseason for goaltenders.
For puck stoppers everywhere, the warmer weather means time to hit the ice with their personal goaltending coaches, whether in one-on-one sessions or at larger summer camps.
For many, summer also means time for new gear.
So as the calendar shifts to August and the regular season gets closer, InGoal will be taking a look back at some of our recent equipment reviews, including updates from the long list of junior, college and European pro goaltenders we work with who have taken advantage of those above-mentioned offseason skates to sample some of the test gear in the InGoal offices.
Up next is the popular CCM Extreme Flex Pro.
Launched with an InGoal Magazine Special Edition in the spring, the InGoal staff was lucky enough to be part of the review process months earlier, including some time on the ice in Montreal with Canadiens’ star Carey Price, who is a lot more than just the face of CCM’s return to the goaltending world. The CCM Extreme Flex Pro line was built almost exclusively around Price’s puck-stopping preferences, including a softer boot break that allows him to feel more attached to the pad down by the skates, a completely redesigned trapped with more of a “baseball” style closure than any previous Reebok glove, and a binding-less blocker with a more open cuff to enhance wrist mobility.
Through a year of back and forth with famed designers Michel and Patrick Lefevre, and more than 2,600 hours of engineering and testing by the father-son team at their equipment factory in Montreal, CCM was able to create a line that met Price’s preferences. All of which is why Price’s thoughts on the new line were sprinkled throughout the first review of the CCM Extreme Flex Pro in an InGoal Magazine special edition in the spring. And it’s why we’ve included video of Price’s thoughts in this re-review below.
Starting with the pads, which many assumed from the knee rolls would be buttery soft out of the box.
That’s not necessarily the case. While the Extreme Flex Pro is designed to be a softer faced, more flexible pad, it maintains the solid core construction principles established by the Lefevres in the revolutionary first Reebok Premier pad, with no clean breaks across the face of the pad, and no soft stuffing inside it. In short, the new CCM was never intended to be a Vaughn Velocity.
What InGoal’s initial testers found instead – and this response has remained consistent through more than a dozen subsequent testers this summer – is a pad that fit right between the stiffness of a Reebok P4 and what they’d expect from a Vaughn Velocity.
This departure from the Reebok P4 was – and remains – most noticeable at the boot break, which is softer and therefore not as steep as a Reebok pad, which leads to both a more connected feeling both atop the skate and up through the shin, and the need for past Premier users to double the sizing when fitting because the knee stack also sits slightly lower because of that break.
The CCM Extreme Flex also comes with the tighter leg channel that Price prefers, though like its Reebok predecessor there are options for custom orders (you can check out all the options with the CCM customizer).
Happily for goalies everywhere, the knee stack, or landing gear, area has not changed much at all from the P4.
The CCM pad maintains the “knee stack leveller” that debuted on the P4 and has since been copied by most manufacturers, and the more open area around it still includes multiple strapping options for both the leather and velcro straps that wrap around the knee. This allows goalies to pick and choose whether they want to maintain that tight, connected feeling through the knee, or, like Price, leave things more open to create an easier rotation around larger knee pads and those silky smooth crease movements.
As for playing softer than the Reebok, the CCM pad does have a different foam on the outside to cushion pucks off the pads, keeping rebounds closer than the P4. And, as demonstrated by the photos of Dallas Stars standout Kari Lehtonen playing in his new CCM Extreme Flex pads last season, there is clearly more ability to break in the pad down around and over top of the skate, something InGoal testers have also enjoyed over time while also happily reporting the pad has not broken down vertically at all, holding the shape we set early on for a test set that included a single break below the knee and the pre-curve option above it.
We’ll let Price himself explain his pad preferences before moving on to the glove and blocker:
The glove was built completely from scratch, a necessity given it was the first “baseball” style trapper built by the Lefevres.
Instead of the “finger tip to palm” closure of the Reebok models, the CCM Extreme Flex Pro glove closes with the tip of the index finger coming more towards the tip of the thumb, a flatter closure Michel Lefevre described as “like the old first baseman.”
That’s how Price likes it, and combined with a stiff one-piece cuff that won’t be pushed back by hard-shot pucks, the pocket appears even larger to shooters on the CCM than on previous incarnations. There is also a new finger protection bar on the outside, and the opening on the back is more open, making it easier to present the glove facing the shooter, but the key for Price was the feel.
The most obvious change on the blocker is the lack of a binding around the outer edge, but the biggest change may be the wider opening on the back, which is adjustable and allows for more mobility, whether steering pucks into the corner or shooting them up ice.
The CCM blocker achieved this without sacrificing any of the size and protection the Reebok model was so well known for:
Add it all up and the reviews continue to be positive for the CCM Extreme Flex Pro model pads and gloves. Look for more reviews of the youth line and the promising new CCM mask from the Lefevres in the upcoming edition of InGoal Magazine, and be sure to look back at the original CCM Extreme Flex Pro Special Edition Magazine for more insights, including glove stiffness options, into the line.
Lastly but certainly not least, be sure to check out Price in action in the CCM demonstrating the Deadarm One-Knee Down technique, with a breakdown and tips from former Canadiens’ goaltending coach Pierre Groulx and video featuring both coach and pupil, from the January edition.