Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ten things you didn't know you should have in your hockey bag

Before you head off to another state or even out of town for that big game or tournament, you probably do certain things. Making sure your skates are sharp, that you have at least one backup stick and double checking that you've packed all of your gear before hitting the road is obvious. But the odds are you're forgetting to pack a little insurance. There are ten things you might not have thought about. Having everything on this list won't assure a victory for your team, but it could eliminate a lot of frustration and disappointment for you.

1. A spare set of skate blades
This one might be the least obvious and possibly the most important. There are a few reasons why sixty bucks to keep a spare set of runners in your bag is a great investment:
Rocket Skate stocks Step Steel, the #1 choice of NHL teams. We carry runners for Bauer, CCM and Graf. Titanium blades (pictured), goalie and Easton runners are also available by special order (approximately 5 day turn time).
First, it's no fun to be on the road, amped up for a big tournament just to break a runner in the first period of the tourney. It's even less fun if the two shops within an hour of the rink don't have proper size in stock. Years ago, I was working at another rink side shop when a kid broke his runner on the first day of a weekend tourney. We didn't stock replacements for his brand of skates there. Having flown in from California to skate they weren't too happy about being forced to decide whether to miss his games or break in a new pair of skates during a four game weekend.

Second, when you step on something and lose your edge, you don't want to end up at the mercy of the fifteen-year-old who sharpens skates two days a month. Blown edges in hockey are pretty common, often as the result of bumping another player's skate blade on the ice. However, a bad sharpening can be worse than a blown edge and there's no guarantee you're getting a good sharpening at enemy ice. Buy an extra pair of runners, keep both pair sharpened up by someone you trust. You can change the blades on most skates in about 10 minutes and you're good to go.

Third, Most skates outlast at least one set of blades. By having a spare, you can rotate between the two pair of blades. This way you don't have to worry about suddenly being taller on the ice when you do have to replace your blades. It's amazing how difficult adapting to 3/8-inch of height can be for many skaters.

2. Skate Hardware
Bauer, CCM and Graf Screws always in stock
A broken runner is a sad reason to miss a game. Something as small as a missing or broken screw is even sadder. Keeping a couple of the appropriate screws in a repair kit in your bag is an excellent idea. I'd recommend a little box with the tools you need to replace your runners as well as the hardware. At a few bucks, this investment is a no-brainer.

3. Helmet Repair Kit
We're fans of Sport Mate's
Helmet repair kit - $9.99

Loose screws don't only affect your skates, there's also your helmet to consider. My first helmet was literally one screw from completely falling into two pieces by the time I realized that there was an issue with it. At Rocket Skate, replacing helmet screws is second only to skate sharpening in the services that I provide. It's just one of the facts of hockey--helmet screws fall out.

Some helmet repair kits are better than others, but they typically have one or two of each part and some tools. A repair kit is something that everyone should have in their bag.

4. A helmet with current HECC CSA Stickers
These Stickers are imperative. If you're playing in Canada they won't let you on the ice unless your helmet has a current CSA sticker on it. Any USA Hockey sanctioned event will also require every player under the age of 21 to an HECC certification sticker. Many leagues outside of USA hockey also require one of these stickers for play in the US.The most important, and overlooked portion of this equation is that the stickers have dates on them. HECC stickers are most important for events played in the U.S. and have an expiration date on them. CSA stickers are most relevant for Canadian events and will have a date of manufacture on them.
You'll need to get a new helmet if your stickers are expired or missing. 
Now call me crazy, but having a helmet that isn't certified seems like a dumb idea anyway. That's your brain in there. Check your helmet's expiration date and get a new bucket if you need to do so.
Howie's Laces are as good as they
come. That's why we sell them.

5. Spare Laces
Laces break, and usually seem to do so at the most inopportune times. the odds are good that the local shop has your size. Of course that doesn't mean that the local shop is conveniently located in the rink, or that you have your wallet handy when you snap one right before the game, or that you have time to stand in line re-lace your skates and get on the ice before warm-ups are over. Last time I broke one it was literally as I was thinking, "These are great laces. I cannot believe how long they've lasted." Had anyone else broken a lace just then they might have been out of luck. As it was, I happen to have the key to Rocket Skate, which is conveniently located rink side.
We've got a multitude of colors in Howie's
tape available. Only the best!

6. Tape
Tape is essential, this you know. You probably also know the guys on your team are tired of you borrowing their tape. Even if you don't care about being that guy, there are a lot of tape brands out there and the quality of the stuff varies frighteningly. Without dropping names of the offenders, the top couple brands commonly stocked at shops, are there because they can be sold at a higher profit margin, not because they are good quality. Grab a few extra rolls before you hit the road so you know what you're getting into instead of once again being at the mercy of the selection where you're playing.
All-in-one jock shorts starting
at $21.99 jr, $23.99 sr. Or go old
school with a cup and
supporter - $11.99

7. Undies
Remember the advice your mother gave you and always wear clean undies in case you're in an accident? . . . OK, this has nothing to do with that sage advice. Owning a rink-side shop, the most common emergency purchase is made after uttering the words, "I forgot my cup," or "I forgot my supporter." 
Two things here: 
1. This isn't something that you want to borrow (or loan). 
2. This isn't something that you want to play without . . . just saying.
Make sure your neck guard is
BNQ approved

8. Neck Guard
If you're playing in Canada you will absolutely need one of these. While USA hockey doesn't yet mandate the use of neck guards, many US events may still require the use of a cut resistant neck guard. Further, USA hockey does highly recommend the use of a neck guard. It only makes sense too. While a skate blade cut to the neck is a rare occurrence, it has the potential to be life threatening. A $20 investment will not only assure that you won't be scrambling to make sure you can participate, it could literally save your life. 

9. Tape Tiger
Seriously, this is easily the most clever hockey
invention since ice. At $9.99, there
really isn't a good reason to not own one.
The Tape Tiger is just about the coolest hockey invention in the rather large, but otherwise mundane, "doodad" category. This handy little device offers several helpful tools that you should have at your disposal. Its main purpose is to cut the tape off your stick, this it does amazingly well. It will cut through blade tape like butter and with a small effort even the thickest knob comes off in seconds. The best part is that it actually curls the tape back making removal of the old tape incredibly simple.

As if this feature wasn't cool enough by itself, the tape tiger has a built in edge stone. I don't recommend any of the hand-held "sharpeners" on the market as all of them work much better at un-sharpening skates. However a side hone can be very handy to take out burrs if you kick a skate blade or step on something. There is also a screw driver built in. Rounding out the utility of the Tape Tiger is a lace hook (which you probably won't need unless you break a finger) and a bottle opener, which might come in handy for post game . . . er, soda pops.

10. Spare mouthguard
Another required item, if you're under 18, the odds are good that you're not going to sneak on the ice without a mouthguard. This is another item that has people running into my shop at the last second in a panic. This seems to be due to the tendency of mouthguards to escape from hockey bags when no one is looking. A spare mouthguard in the bag makes pretty good sense. Again, it's not something you're going to want to borrow and even more importantly, it is something that you're going to want to fit first. You might be able to find a new mouthguard 5 minutes before your game, but are you going to be able to find boiling water to mold it?
Mouthguards from XO, which feature the highest level both custom fit and style on the market. These feature 8 color chips which can be inserted to match your team color - $11.99. We also stock selected Shock Doctor styles - $18 and up

Stay in the loop with other cool people who know what's happening by liking us on facebook -www.facebook.com/rocketskate

Find us on the web at
© 2013 Scott Noble
All Rights reserved. Reproduction of this article in whole or part is strictly prohibited without the author's prior express written permission.