Last month, we had the opportunity to interview Chris Joswiak of Brian’s Custom Sports and we talked about their current top-line goalie gear, the Sub-Zero. I had the opportunity to purchase a set from our friends at Pure Goalie and spent the last few months using them on a weekly basis. Here is the first review of the Sub Zero leg pads. Check back later this week for a review of the glove and blocker.
Product: Brian’s Sub-Zero leg pads
Size: 35″ + 2″ thigh rise
Color: Stock design in white with black and gray trim.
Price: $1,449.99 at Pure Goalie
My Goaltending Style: Butterfly
Appearance and Feel: When Chris and I talked a few months ago, he told me one of the big trends among goalie equipment was going to all-white or having white as the dominate color. I personally had not seen white as the dominant color in goalie pads since Arturs Irbe’s NHL career that lasted from 1991-2004. My previous set of pads were the Olie Nemesis, which was all black with white trim and face design. The Sub-Zero is not only bigger but easier to move. In addition, at 4.5 lbs. they are the lightest pads on the market. It does a difference on a goalie if he drops to the ice 50 times a game over the course of a season. I’ve found it easier and quicker to bounce back to my stance in the late stages of a game when my knees and legs would be tired.
The only traditional strap is at the bottom where you lock the boot of your skate in place. The revolutionary Smart Strap strapping technology is absolutely genius. One of my biggest pet peeves with either plastic buckles or leather straps was the pain in replacing them should they break. With the Smart Strap, it uses a system of Velcro straps to fully lock your calf in place. The inside V-strap is fully adjustable and can be as loose or as tight as you desire. The outside strap is what locks the calf padding in place. It fully wraps around the calf and I have yet to feel a shot taken to my calf. The padding is fully thick but not bulky.
Closer to the knee, there is one strap that wraps around the knee lock. It is Velcro on both sides, and the inside features a removable block pad for even more customization. If you are a goalie who wears separate knee pads, the block can be removed to give you the compensated space. The thigh pad rests atop of the knee lock and full coverage is provided when I am in the butterfly position. The toe bridge is a standard lace toe bridge and can be customized if you prefer it placed to the left, right or in the middle.
Durability: The durability they provide is among the best in the business. They are very durable because of their exclusive E-Foam Technology that is designed to not shrink and break down over time like what is seen in stuffed pads. The photo to the left is from the Brian’s Facebook page and shows matching pairs of Sub-Zero pads. The pad on the left is brand new and the pad on the right is after one year of use. They look the same size, which is very impressive and could be used as a selling point to consumers. Outside of puck marks, there are no issues with the integrity of the pads in terms of stitching and craftsmanship. It does make a difference purchasing a top-priced piece of equipment made in North America versus a lower end product made in Asia.
Shot Blocking: With shot blocking, they are fantastic with rebound control and directing shots away from the slot and into the corner. In addition, they help provide a large blocking area when I’m on the ice in the butterfly position. When I talked about the removable knee block on the inside of the knee cradle, I’ve come to realize it could leave a bit of a gap above the knee. This could potentially be a problem for goalies who try to slide from one post to the other when stopping one-timers or breakaways where the shooter is trying to go between the legs.
Overall Impressions: Overall, this is the best pads I have ever used. They are a little pricey, but for your money you’re using one of the best pieces of equipment in terms of quality. I would recommend these to anyone because these have the potential to be the last set of pads you will ever use. They come pre-curved right out of the box, so there is essentially little to no break-in time. A goalie asked me a couple weeks ago if I liked them, and my response was “1-2 practices and you’ll be confident to use it in a game”. Only time will tell if the Smart Strap technology with Velcro will stick or if it will be copied by other manufacturers. I hope it does because it sure beats having to replace metal and plastic buckles. For those goalies who tend to play more inline than ice, I’ve only use them once for inline and I felt they were a little too big and bulky for the inline game. I had time moving laterally from side to side compared to my smaller, more broken in pads. You might want to use them in a drop-in/practice scenario before skating in an inline game.