Last weekend, I decided to pack up my sticks and head to Cobourg for the OJHL Junior A Governors Showcase Weekend. The showcase featured 22 OJHL regular season games and attracted fans, scouts, agents, and other hockey brass; including the HockeyStickMan.
While I was there, I had conversations with players, equipment managers, and coaches as to what they value when picking out a stick. There was a variety of answers, but overall there seemed to be three components that they considered the most important:
1. The Curve
The majority of players at this level have found the pattern of curve that works best for them. While players at higher levels have an opportunity to try different things and customize their patterns, these players are typically playing with stock patterns, some that have not changed in many years. While some said that they would consider a minimal change, it was highly unlikely that they would try a different type of curve at this point in the season. Not surprisingly, the heel-mid curve, closed face, P92 (Backstrom), P3 (Hall), or Crosby pattern seemed to be the most popular.
2. The Brand
While I was able to convince two players to try a different brand then they were currently using, most are both very aware of the different types of brands and models produced, and do not care to change from what they are using. Some did say that finances play a role in their decision making but most seem to be playing with the brand they want. This was very evident to me as Fisher Hockey is a sponsor and the Official Stick Supplier of the OJHL. While I'm sure many players try the Fisher throughout the season, the major stick manufactures still seem to be dominating that market.
3. The Flex
At this level, these players know what type of flex optimizes their performance. We found that some were willing to make a change in flex from what they were currently using, but it was largely because they had felt a change might be beneficial for certain reasons (Ex. taking more snaps shots then slapshots, so decided to try a lower flex).
We talked to a lot about the HockeyStickMan Pro, College, and Junior Hockey support program where we can offer ways to reduce stick expenses for the teams, players, and parents. As a league they are doing some really great things to enhance their product, both on-ice and off!
Special thanks to the Cobourg Community Centre and the Canadian Tire Pro Shop. A proud partner and retail location of HockeyStickMan!