The following article is from guest poster Matthew Taylor. He and his friends currently play High School Hockey in Michigan and have a passion for hockey in all forms. These are their opinions on the best low kick hockey sticks so far in 2016.
The low kick stick, a stick with the goal of providing the quickest shot release possible while sacrificing the least amount of power as possible. The secret to scoring on an NHL goaltender, admitted by pros such as James Neal and Jonathan Quick, is the release of a shot. The quicker the release, the less time the goalie has to react, giving a better chance to score. The “kick” point of a stick is where the stick will store and transfer the energy put into a shot, as the name suggests, a low kick stick has the “kick” point lower on the shaft of a hockey stick. With so many low kick sticks on the market, we have picked five of the best low kick hockey sticks of 2016.
Method for testing:
To make testing as open minded as possible, we took five players who play five very different roles. Each player got roughly 2 hours of ice time to play around with each stick and find the one they enjoyed the most.
Without further ado, here are the five best low kick hockey sticks of 2016:
The Sher-Wood Rekker EK-60 was the replacement for the fabled Rekker EK-15, the lightest stick on the market. Unfortunately, the Rekker’s claim to fame was one of its downfalls in our testing. All the players unanimously agreed that the Rekker felt too light and while the puck handling felt great, the shots seemed to float in the air through time and space. When testing snapshots and one timers, the blade had a tendency to open up and adjustments had to be made before shooting, namely stopping and having a full reception of a pass before shooting. The lightweight nature of the stick had us shying away from puck battles, mainly out of concern of it possibly breaking. When it came to stickhandling, the Rekker felt silky and smooth with nice response and allowed for quick handles without the puck flipping on edge.
Bauer’s Vapor line exploded with the introduction of the APX and APX2 sticks, after such great success and positive feedback, great things were expected from the heir to the throne. The 1X certainly did hold that throne nicely, the puck feel certainly felt the best when stickhandling. Parker fondly named it the true “Magic Wand” allowing for dangles without having to look down to check where the puck was. Wrist shots with the 1X were a dream, they seemed to just fly off the blade without any problems, no matter where the puck was positioned. The 1X would be ranked higher if it wasn’t for two faults that have some big impacts, slapshots and durability. The slapshots, much like the Rekker, didn’t come off with much heat, the blade opened and for an 87 flex it seemed to be much whippier. The 1X also didn’t hold up too well in the durability factor, the blade lost its pop quickly and eventually broke after testing in only its 8th use on ice. That being said, if you don’t take a ton of slapshots and you have the money to replace them, they truly are a fantastic stick and with a little bit of tuning could lead this race.
Easton changed the game for low kick sticks back in 2009 with the introduction of the Easton Stealth S19, the pioneer stick that really drew players over towards low kick sticks. Much like the 1X, with a last name like that, you better perform and keep that legendary name clean. The Easton Stealth CX was introduced featuring Easton’s elliptical taper, as well as Exo-Rim to improve the blade’s durability. The CX took a little longer to get used to than the other sticks, mainly because the puck feel was much different, but not in a bad way. The feel was a mix between lively and dampened, but it certainly wasn’t the puck feel that surprised me, it was the shots. The CX can purely be described as a sniper’s dream come true, Dawson loved it so much that he went and bought two for his own personal use. The CX’s shot could best be described as a slingshot effect, coming down the wing and pulling it behind for a shot on the fly, they just flew off the blade. The blade didn’t torque at all and took quite the beating, even slammed it in a bench door, yet it didn’t break. The CX definitely favors toe shooters, a stiff and rigid toe allows for a crazy amount of pop off toe shots, not so friendly towards heel shooters. The CX is a beast, but it definitely takes some getting used to and sacrifices puck feel for shot power.
After numerous bad experiences with Warrior and a bad reputation for the durability of their sticks, I was skeptical as to the stick they could offer for the low kick market. Surprisingly, they stunned me and scored extremely high marks with all the other players. With a wonderfully stiff and rigid blade, it was pleasure to shoot with and the puck feel felt great, responsive and alert. It shoots much like a 1X and feels like one in most aspects, except for two areas, can you guess them? Yep, slapshots and durability! The QR1 felt very firm on one timers and slapshots while walking the blue line, blade stayed closed and gave pin-point accuracy. As for durability, it felt solid and I certainly wouldn’t have a problem digging for those pucks in corners, maybe even give a few whacks myself. The only minor problem we had with it was when it came to paint chipping, the paint chipped on it when we took repeated slapshots, but that was purely an aesthetic issue.
The breakout stick of 2013 and crowned champion of sticks was the Reebok Ribcor stick. Meet its child by CCM, The Reckoner. Being the third generation of the Ribcor family, it had high expectations and it certainly filled those expectations and then some more. The old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply here at all, the CCM Ribcor 40k wasn’t broke at all, yet they managed to make the Reckoner even better. The Reckoner stood out in shooting, on snapshots and wrist shots the blade stayed closed and every ounce of energy put into a shot was doubled by the stick when shooting. Slapshots were incredible with the Reckoner, blasting away from the point wasn’t a problem for it, nor were one timers. The blade was extremely responsive, especially towards the toe, pulling off backhand toe drags as well as front hand toe drags were easy when you always can feel where the puck is on your blade. The non-stop pop we could get on shots were amazing, the blade didn’t wear down or show any signs of getting any weaker. The Reckoner screamed give me more shots and we couldn’t have been happier to oblige.
Although we ranked the Reckoner at the top of the list, all of these sticks can appeal to different players. Everyone has their own likes and you never know what stick you might find as your personal favorite, just because we ranked one stick lower than another doesn’t mean it isn’t a great stick! Find your favorite and keep on sniping!