Having the right stick could be the difference between a goal and a save. So it is very important to make sure you are using the right one.
What to do first?
The first thing you need to decide on when choosing your stick is what material you want. There are 3 options: Wood, Foam core and Composite. You can learn more about the materials here. Once you have chosen your material its time to get sized up.
When shopping for sticks make sure you bring your skates with you to ensure proper fit
Goalie stick manufacturers measure their paddle lengths differently. The sticks may be measured from the top of the heel (the point before the blade curves) to the top of the paddle, or the bottom of the heel (as if the was squared to the floor) to the top of the paddle. It can get quite annoying if you switch brands. If you have an old stick, bring it with you to see how it compares.
Goalie sticks are a very different matter than player’s sticks. Some principles still apply such as lie, or curve. However there are some categories that aren’t as important to goalies, such as size, or flex. Some popular brands include Bauer, CCM, Reebok, SHERWOOD, Twigz, Christian, and Warrior.
Ensuring a Proper Paddle Height
If you are a younger player, growing into a stick is not always the best option. Not having a proper fitting stick can hurt your game, or stop you from learning correctly. That being said, if you are on the fence about your size, going with a smaller stick is a better option than a larger one.
What does a perfect fitting stick look like?
Below, we see Buffalo Sabres goalie Drew MacIntyre. Notice how his stick blade is pretty flat to the ice, with a slight angle, and his blocker is tucked at the side slightly overlapping his leg pads. The stick is perfect because he’s covering his 5-hole and has the ability to slide the stick on the ice laterally for quick saves and deflections.
So players actually prefer an improper fitting stick. Some goalies may prefer a longer stick for poke check. Lets see an example…
Above we see LA Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Jonathan Quick is a very unique example because of his play style. You can see by the photo that he is really scrunched up and gets very low in the net. You can see his stick is very far out in front of him, giving the shooter a large 5-hole to shoot at. His blade is curved very far inwards which could lead a blade save going up and over the blade and into the 5-hole. Lastly you see how his blocker is facing up rather than at the towards the shooter, where as if you look back at Drew MacIntyre, his blocker is square and facing the shooter. Without knowing Quick you may say he will never make saves, but with his lightning fast reaction time he is able to compensate. But why would he use such a long stick when a shorter one will fit his style better? Lets see another example:
Again we see Jonathan Quick at a practice. Look a little different? He is in a more upright position and his stick looks like a proper fit. When the puck is far out, he stand more upright covering more of the net and using his stick to cover his 5-hole. When shooters get in close he can use that extra length for poke checks.
There can be a problem with using a larger stick. In the butterfly, if your legs pads don’t seal together, your 5-hole is slightly exposed. With a longer stick it cant cover that spot. Another issue is if you compensate but squaring your blade to the ice to cover the 5-hole you risk opening up a hole under your arm. like bellow:
Many goalies actually prefer a shorter stick. A shorter stick give you more mobility and is a good balance between stand-up and butterfly. I had the chance to use a Braden Hotlby pro stock stick. Hotlby is 6″1′ and uses a 25 inch paddle. I also use a 25 and I am no where near 6″1′. Goes to show you how the paddle length can greatly vary.
The next thing to consider is shaft height. You generally want to leave the stick as is, but some players may like it differently. The shaft of you stick should also be tall enough to play the puck comfortably. If you are the type of goalie who really likes to play the puck and the shaft is too long you may shorten your shaft. I do advise against shortening your stick unless absolutely necessary. That extra length can be used for poke checks and emergency saves with the knob.
Carey Price is one of the rare few that shortens his stick. You can see it looks unusually short.
The next thing you should look at when fitting your goalie stick is the lie, or angle of the blade. Just like player sticks, goalie sticks have different lies, which are generally 13, 14 or 15. The lie is the angle at which the blade meets the paddle. When you have a stick that is the proper lie for you, in your stance, the entire blade (or most of it) will be flush with the ice. If you don’t have the right lie on a stick you will find yourself trying to compensate by moving your blocker hand inward or outward from where you would normally hold it. Keep in mind that lie is a personal preference as to how wide you want your blocker hand to be. Make sure you are wearing your skates when you do this to ensure you are simulating exactly how you will be using the stick on the ice. Also keep in mind that you need to figure out what paddle height you need before you figure out what lie you need. You can play around with different lie’s and paddle heights until you get the perfect fit.
Your sticks flex is typically not relevant for beginner goalies, however some of you may have a preference. The more skilled you are with playing the puck, you may adjust your proper flex to your needs. Unfortunately the flex is not printed on the stick because it is not usually a selling point. Try it out in the store to see if the flex is comfortable for you. There won’t be anywhere near as much flex as a player’s stick, but you will notice the difference. It also may vary depending on the type of material (i.e. foam, wood or composite). The flex of your stick can aid in shooting [or passing] the puck.
Believe it or not, curves are important to goalies too. A flatter curve will be easier to control rebounds with, but passing will be somewhat difficult. Alternatively, having more curve may make your rebounds less controllable but passing will be much easier. Those goalies that don’t play the puck as much might like a flatter stick, and those that play the puck a lot might prefer a stick with more curve. Just like player curves there are differences all based on preference. Most of the time the goalie is deflecting pucks and not passing so you have to take that into consideration when choosing a curve.
Once you have your right size you can choose which material is right for you. Learn about them here