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Lemieux posted a topic in Goal Equipment2013 Brian’s SubZero Blocker SubZero blocker (front). SubZero blocker (side). The thing about a blocker is that you never really want to think about it. It should just, well, block. As soon as you notice it, then something is off. The stock SubZero blocker is good just as it is: it does the job. I can slip it on and slip it off without any issues. It’s balanced. It’s uncomplicated. And it’s noticeably light. There’s not much more that I could ask from it! The other blocker that I’d consider for its general uncomplicated, good-to-go design is the Vaughn Velocity. (I liked the V4 the best.) As for the G-NETik blocker, for some reason I couldn’t get the same “slip on, slip off” ease as I did with the SubZero. That’s the first thing I noticed. Next, it felt weird on my hand. It was light but felt...off. I later learned that the stock hand position was moved up higher on the board. The reason is to reduce the “double coverage” of the blocker and the forearm and to extend the blocker downward to cover more area beneath the blocker side. Good idea in theory, but I just did not like the balance of the blocker at all. The more I fiddled around with the G-NETik blocker, the more I noticed it. (That’s a bad thing.) I chose the SubZero because I just put it on and was ready to play! I didn’t have to force myself to adjust to anything. STOCK SUBZERO BLOCKER FEATURES I LIKE Palm. My favorite feature is that the palm is tight across the hand and there’s supple backhand padding to secure the blocker to the hand. The design makes the glove easy to slip on and off. I don’t need to depend on wrist straps or additional padding to keep the blocker on. Wide cuff. Slip on, slip off. That’s all I ask. SubZero palm and cuff. Side wall. It’s nice and big and provides great inside coverage! My only annoyance is that the side wall near the nose of the blocker tends to curl outwards rather than staying flush along the entire board. It’s definitely just a cosmetic thing, but that’s an area that could be polished. SubZero's side wall is noticeable from the front. MY SUBZERO BLOCKER MODS Reinforced binding. There’s a lot of wear on the binding along the thumb where the stick meets the blocker. I just wanted to keep things intact as long as possible because it’s very difficult to replace binding. I first saw this feature on Pete Smith’s blockers and subsequently on Vaughn Velocity blockers. Added Jenpro strips along the binding. X-Static airknit finger gussets. Silver has been shown to inhibit bacterial growth. X-Static weaves silver ions into its textile fibers, so bacteria have a harder time growing on its products. With less bacteria in the blocker, there is less hockey smell. Yay for science! No more smelly hockey hands! Screen printing. I copied this feature from Craig Anderson’s gloves, which say #BEASTMODE. “LET’S DO THIS!” is my personal pump-up slogan, and it’s a touch that makes this glove a custom product. We’ve also seen this mod recently on Corey Schneider’s blocker, so I’m not the only one who adds little quotes to my gear! I feel ready to hit the ice! Rice man embroidery. It looks good on the sidewall. I considered placing it on the thumb like Lundqvist, but it would’ve been too hidden to notice. Rice man on the SubZero side wall. Name embroidery. This is the standard position on the cuff. I like the pro italic font! I considered doing my name using screen printing, but I like the look of embroidered text. I would think about putting the name on the middle Jenpro cuff so the embroidery doesn’t look so squished. CHRISLE9 on the blocker’s cuff. 2013 Brian’s G-NETik Catcher G-NETik catcher (front). G-NETik catcher (back). A lot of hype surrounded the release of the G-NETik catcher. (Word on the street was that pros who demoed the glove wouldn’t give it back!) And judging by how quickly people have made the switch to this glove, I think that it’s been a hit with goalies. Brian’s did such a good job on it that I pretty much ordered a stock glove. If I were to identify its strongest features, I’d highlight the closure and the catching/trapping ability. At the same time, I was pleasantly surprised by the SubZero catcher, too. The break felt like a C-shape: you cupped your fingers as you closed the glove. It felt natural too, but in a different way compared to the G-NETik. I also really liked the tee: it was shaped to extend the glove’s reach and the tee was heavily reinforced. I found that I caught pucks that I thought were beyond my reach. The glove has a lot of pocket too, so pucks were trapped very well in this glove. I would’ve been happy to go with the SubZero catcher if the G-NETik didn’t exist. STOCK G-NETIK CATCHER FEATURES I LIKE 35 degree break. The G-NETik’s closure is comfortable and natural. It feels like a U shape - think of folding over a taco. It breaks over the palmar crease. I’d compare it to the Reebok 60 degree break. Scalloped thumb. Otherwise known as the “Finnish thumb” first introduced by the Vaughn Velocity V1 catcher and popularized among Finnish goalies, this feature channels pucks into the pocket. As a result, this glove sucks up pucks like a vacuum! The catcher’s overall shape is like a basket, so there are few flat spots, which results in fewer pop-outs. Double tee. The additional lace between the two tees lets the pocket have more “give”, which helps to cushion pucks and keep them in the catcher. External pro palm. This feature is genius: they added a pro palm (i.e. extra padding) on the outside of the glove. First, this allows the glove to have added protection yet break in a bit more easily: the additional padding doesn’t spread across the hinge at the closure. As a result, there’s a great “game ready” feel. Second, the pro palm is such a common upgrade that Brian’s decided to include it as a stock feature. It’s also covered with nash, which helps to reduce puck spin (and plains looks awesome when there are puck marks!). In my opinion, the external pro palm already makes the glove a great value-packed product off the shelf! G-NETik catcher 35 degree break, scalloped thumb, double tee, and external pro palm. X-Static airknit finger gussets. As I described for the blocker, silver inhibits bacterial growth. Less bacteria means less hockey smell. No more smelly hockey hands! Internal elastic finger strap. I like my gloves to feel snug, and there is an elastic strap that spreads across the fingers and attaches by Velcro at the other end. I like the elastic over the usual two-piece Velcro strap because it reduces redundant materials. This elastic is wide too, so it covers the fingers well and makes for tighter finger channels (if that’s how you like to strap it). MY G-NETIK CATCHER MODS Skate lace. It has more give, which helps trap pucks in the pocket. Some people think skate lace is too soft and reduces “feel”; however, I’m happy that when the puck hits the pocket, it stays there. G-NETik catcher skate lace pocket. Cuff screen printing. I copied this feature from Craig Anderson’s gloves, which say #BEASTMODE. “LET’S DO THIS!” is my personal pump-up slogan, and it’s a touch that makes this glove a custom product. If I was going to do this on my blocker, then I might as well do it on the catcher, too! I wish that the “Made in Canada” cutout wasn’t there, but I otherwise like the look. Another spot to get a pump-up message. Rice man embroidery. It looks good on the backhand. Rice man on the G-NETik backhand. Name embroidery. This is the standard position on the cuff. I still dig the pro italic font! I considered using screen printing, but I like the look of embroidered text. CHRISLE9 on the catcher’s cuff. CONCLUSION I’m very happy with how my custom gear turned out. United Cycle was very helpful in advising me about the products and handling my order. Brian’s not only offers quality products off the shelf, but they also excel in customizing their gear to their customers’ specifications. They did a fantastic job in turning my custom graphic to reality and nailing every modification that I requested. I’d happily recommend United Cycle and Brian’s to anyone who’s looking for goalie equipment. My dream gear is here. This set is a keeper. I understand that the SubZero line will be updated later this year, but that doesn’t bother me. Everything I have works well for me and I’m content. Now, it’s a matter of playing to a level that matches the flashiness of my gear! RELATED LINKS Reviews on the GSBB: ”Official Brian’s Thread” (a running thread about Brian's equipment)Brians Subzero on Ice review (by Chamber33)Another Brians Sub Zero Review (by goalienate)Brian’s SubZero Review (by Big Daddy D)Brian’s G-NETik catcher (a running thread with multiple reviews)Another Brians Gnetik glove review (by khabibissell)Chris Joswiak is Brian’s pro team manager and is an active member of the Goalie Store (Wheelin33). He’s posted his thoughts about... ...the SubZero line....the SubZero pads, blocker, and catch. (video)...the Smart Strap....the Brian's SubZero Smart Strap System. (video)...the G-NETik line....the G-NETik glove....SubZero vs. G-NETik.Several retailers and publications have produced notable reviews: SubZero Pads by Goalie PlusSubZero Pads by Total HockeyBrian's SubZero Goalie Leg Pads Review by Hockey World BlogBrian's SubZero Goalie Leg Pads - Extended Review by Total Hockey (video)First Look: Brian's SubZero Goalie Pads, Blocker & Glove by Pure Hockey (video)Brian's G-NETik by InGoal Magazine (in-depth feature in the October 2012 edition)Brian’s G-NETik Goalie Catch Glove by Total Goalie (video with Chris Joswiak)
(NOTE: This is a cross post from the original posting at The Goalie Store.) INTRODUCTION Having custom gear is the coolest thing about being a goalie. I’ve been thinking about my dream set since forever, and my recent graduation from school provided a convenient reason to order a grad present to myself. Having a good relationship with my local hockey store helped me try different models and evaluate the many variations in goal equipment, and I decided to order from Brian’s because they were the best fit for me. SELECTION PROCESS With so many product choices available to goalies nowadays, where do I start? Obviously there’s a lot of user-generated online reviews on sites like the Goalie Store, but nothing beats handling the product in person. I got to know the staff at United Cycle, one of the best hockey stores in western Canada, and talked gear with people who were as interested in this stuff as I am. The goal staff was always honest about their thoughts on the latest offerings in the goalie equipment world, and they made consistently good recommendations. Based on their customer service and the relationship I developed with them, I knew that I wanted to order from United Cycle. I wanted to try out as many current models as possible to get a sense of what I liked. I didn’t want to buy something just because a certain pro wore the gear or an advertising campaign promised to make me unbeatable - I needed to make sure that the gear worked for me rather than me adjusting to the gear! (Within reason, of course.) I looked for a company that was open to customizations. Since I’ve demoed many sets over the years, I had accumulated a running list of potential modifications that I could order to make the gear work the best for me. (I’ll admit that I probably could’ve gotten by with stock gear, but if I’m going to go custom, why not personalize it to my playing style?) And finally, I wanted to have custom graphics. I co-designed the winning graphic in the contest hosted by Eagle in 2005, and I knew that I wanted to carry it over with my new set of gear. I would’ve had no hesitation going to Eagle again if they were still in business. My custom set of Eagle gear has served me well for many games and tournaments. After many ice times and conversations and reading, I decided to go with Brian’s because they were the best fit for what I was looking for. Brian’s has been referred to as “the kings of custom” not only because they are receptiveness to customer requests, but also because they invite the challenge! They are the leading company in producing beautiful and elaborate graphics on their equipment - even having enough custom orders to maintain a weekly showcase on their website that spans from 2012 to 2013. An added factor in choosing Brian’s is that I got to visit their factory and meet some of their staff. They have a cool story: their focus is on goalies only, so all of their efforts are directed to making the best products for this niche market. They have a strong heritage dating back to 1984 with the legendary Brian Heaton, and their place in goaltending history is firmly established by the many pros who have and who continue to use their gear. I like that they are a small Canadian company trying to do big things in the industry, so I was happy to support them with my business. Hanging out with Brian’s pro rep Chris Joswiak at the Brian’s factory. CUSTOM GRAPHICS Even though I have my “talon” graphic on my Eagle gear, I wanted to revamp the look. I had tons of ideas but no computer graphic skills, so I looked for someone to help me out. Turns out that there was help available right here on the Goalie Store! I sent a message to mash, the winner of the Simmons UL6 graphic contest, because he submitted a lot of cool designs. His talent was exactly what I was looking for! He has since gone on to work with The Goalie Guild and then Pad Tracker, and he’s even designed graphics for other companies like Brian’s, Battram, and Agatone. He was available to help me and we exchanged a ton of emails. I have to say that he was very patient with me and receptive to all the feedback I sent him. He really went above and beyond what I could’ve hoped for in a mock-up, and I’m happy to recommend him for graphic design work. An incredible mock-up created by mash. THE COMPLETE SET My final set consists of the following: -SubZero pads -SubZero blocker -G-NETik catcher I think that Brian’s did a great job designing the stock product in their SubZero and G-NETik lines, and I made only a few tweaks for the pieces I chose. And not that it matters what pros wear, but it was a bit reassuring to see that Craig Anderson and Andei Vasilevsky picked a similar setup. SubZero blocker, SubZero pads, G-NETik catcher. SubZero blocker, G-NETik catcher. I am so happy with how the custom graphic turned out! It’s bold and eye-catching, and Brian’s pulled it off very well. WOW. Yet another accomplishment in their long run of successfully-executed graphics! My set was the Brian's 06/17/2013 pad of the week and was even featured in a post by InGoal. As this is the dream set of gear, I had to do it in Edmonton Oilers colors as a tribute to my hometown. I learned that Reebok doesn’t sell NHL jerseys in goalie cut to the general public, so I had to go online to find a blank jersey (since the Oilers blank jersey were recently discontinued by Reebok!) and a crest (which took a while to find a good dealer). It took some work, but I finally put together a jersey that I can wear with my gear. (Thanks again to the Team Sales department at United Cycle for assembling the jersey!) A goalie-cut Edmonton Oilers jersey with my last name. I like my gear to have sharp contrast, and I knew that I did not want a white-based color scheme. I was inspired by this custom Brian’s set for “Manzella” and copied the dark base with the white outer roll and white outlines. Pad of the Week 10/15/2013. I like it best when the logos are consistent across all the pieces, and given that the logo would appear against both a blue and a white base, I chose to have the “B” and the “star” in white with the outline in orange. I think it looks really sharp! “B Star” logo on the pads, blocker, and catcher. The personal touches really brought the gear together. I was thrilled by how well the custom “rice man” embroidery and the name embroidery turned out. I requested their pro italic font and I think it looks way cooler than the standard font. This set is certainly customized for me! My rice man cartoon that I’ve doodled for years. CHRISLE9 in the pro italic font. 2013 Brian’s SubZero Pads SubZero pads (front). SubZero pads (profile). Pads receive the most attention of any piece of goaltending equipment, and for good reason - there are so many features and variables to adjust that there are plenty of configurations for goalies to choose from. It’s a matter of knowing the features that matter most to you. I consider myself a hybrid type of goalie, so I looked for soft pads with a lot of flexibility. I didn’t like to be stuck in a clumsy block of foam; I wanted to be able to react as I wanted. I was fortunate to have a good relationship with United Cycle, and I got to demo a lot of gear to try different setups. I had already begun to accumulate a list of what I wanted in a set of pads. Because I already knew that I wanted to go with Brian’s for their custom artwork and there was a lot of hype around the flexibility of the G-NETik line, I was planning to order the G-NETik pad. The United Cycle staff convinced me to give the SubZero a whirl, and I was thoroughly impressed by it! I couldn’t get over how well I moved in it right away, and the weight difference was very noticeable. It challenged me on what I wanted in a pad, and the more I played in it, the more I was convinced that it was the pad for me. If I wasn’t tied to getting a custom graphic, I would’ve also considered the Vaughn Velocity or the CCM Extreme Flex Pro for their flexibility or the Warrior Ritual for its well thought-out design. I tried really hard to make the G-NETik pads work for me. Even with the 3-3-3 A-K-T flex rating, the G-NETik took a while to adjust to them. (Granted, the demos were still pretty new.) It wasn’t as soft as I thought that it would be, and the more I thought about it, I wasn’t sure that I needed my pad to be so flexible that I could squish it into an S-shape. The knee used a cool ripstop material, but I couldn’t get settled in the cradle and kept slipping around the knee block. The external knee flap was relatively rigid and interfered with rotation. Sometimes it would move out of the way, but I just didn’t like it at all. I went for several skates in these pads but just couldn’t dial them in. Feedback so far as shown that G-NETik users took quite some time to break in and adjust to their pads. (Obvious, I guess.) The eventual result is a flexible pad that isn’t mushy. Sounds appealing for sure, but I wasn’t interested in waiting for the demo G-NETik pads to break in to see how they eventually felt when I was immediately comfortable in the SubZero pads. I couldn’t argue with that difference, so that’s how I made my decision! STOCK SUBZERO PADS FEATURES I LIKE Smart Strap. This feature is noteworthy because it challenges convention and rethinks how strapping works. Variations on the number of straps or type of straps doesn’t really matter when you ask, “Do we even need straps at all?!” Using the Velcro and elastic system to secure the pad to the leg is genius. What a game changer in terms of weight and function! NHL goalie Chris Mason explains how it works and demonstrates how he can strap on a pad in about 30 seconds! SubZero Smart Strap. E-Foam Technology. Brian’s uses a high-quality foam that is super light and that no one else has access to. I’m not a person who worries about weight, but it’s significant enough to notice. I regularly replayed sequences in my mind and asked, “Did I really move like that? Did I seriously get to that shot?!” A very noticeable competitive advantage for Brian’s! My 35” pad (34”+2”-1”) probably weighs a little over 4.5 lbs. Pre-curved profile. I didn’t care for stiff, straight-angled, box-type pads because of their inherent lack of flexibility, but the SubZero made me reconsider my position. What was my goal in having a flexible top anyway? To be able to break it in to cover the five-hole in the butterfly. But then if I want the pad to break in to cover the five-hole, doesn’t have a pre-curved pad already accomplish that? This epiphany really dampened my desire for the G-NETik. How much more flexible do I really need the thigh to be if it already does what it needs to do? I also like the pre-curved profile because the thighs don’t interfere with each other when I skate. They follow the contour of my leg so they stay out of each other’s way. SubZero pre-curved profile. Knee cradle. I don’t know what it is about this knee cradle, but it works really well for me. My knee stays in and it’s comfortable. The knee block is firm and has a little groove for the knee when going into the butterfly position. The material has enough friction to stay secure around my knee yet doesn’t inhibit rotation. SubZero knee cradle. MY SUBZERO PADS MODS Sizing. I ordered a 34”+2”-1”, meaning that I added two inches to the thigh rise and removed one inch from the boot. Brian’s has a fitting guide that is a good start, but I wanted to get the maximum height that I could tolerate, so I went with a 34” even though my ankle-to-knee measurement is almost 17”. The +2” on the demo pads was very reasonable, so I went with it. My skate size is small (Bauer Supreme 7000 size 6.5), so I removed one inch from the stock boot so my skate would be flush with the end of the boot. Removing that excess length will give me better control of the pad. Also, given the E Foam Technology, I can rest assured that the pad will have minimal breakdown and shrinkage, so I know that my sizing will stay true for the lifetime of this pad. A-K-T flex 3-3-2. The stock flex on the SubZero is 2-3-2, meaning that the boot (or ankle) and thigh have a medium stiffness rating (“2”) while the knee has a soft stiffness rating (“3”). I prefer to have a soft boot because it lets me feel like I have a sense of control of the pad, so I changed it to the softest rating. The boot probably won’t have the same feel as in a Vaughn Velocity or the CCM Extreme Flex Pro, but it’ll be the closest I get for now. I liked the stock flex rating in the knee and thigh, so I left it as it is. If I had ordered these pads without demoing them, I would’ve ordered a soft thigh as well, but as I discussed above in the pre-curved profile section, that wouldn’t have added much to the pad’s function. Soft stiffness rating (“3”) at the ankle. Sliding toe bridge. This feature was invented by Pete Smith, and who explained it how his website as a design that “allows the toe of the skate blade to angle naturally towards the ice during the butterfly move while keeping the pad snug against the skate. This will relieve stress to ankles and knees while increasing the control and power of all butterfly and deep crouch moves”. Makes sense to me! SubZero boot with 84 degree toe taper and sliding toe bridge. 84 degree toe taper. The stock SubZero toe taper is 78 degree, which is a relatively large taper that allows for a deep crouch and increased mobility. The trade-off, however, is that a “v” gap/taper tends to form between the pads in the butterfly: as the toe pulls down the bottom of the pad, the thigh rise lifts up slightly. (This gap was explained and illustrated by Vaughn product designer Brent Burns in his discussion about the Vaughn Velocity "taper".) Because I’d prefer to eliminate that gap, I chose to have the least amount of taper at the toe. This way, the pad will sit more flush in the butterfly position and close that gap. I have a fairly narrow stance to begin with, so I don’t anticipate any major problems with mobility as the pads will sit on top of my skate. Also, this is a popular option at the pro level so I suspect it doesn’t affect mobility too negatively. SubZero pads in the butterfly position. Outside calf protector. I borrowed this part from the G-NETik pads. I like it because it’s a rigid board that can serve to protect the outer calf...and it can seal the pad against post to prevent squeakers just below the knee. It reminds me of the outside calf wedge panel that Pete Smith introduced in the Smith SP 6000 pads. (Now seen as the “Post Wedge” on the Warrior Ritual pad.] The only change I’d like is to have the outside strap anchored behind this calf protector. As it stands, the calf protector is flush against my leg when I would’ve prefered it to be a bit loose so it can seal against the post. I should’ve clarified this point when I placed the order. G-NETik calf protector on the SubZero pads. Rice man embroidery. I really like how Craig Anderson has the Corvette logo on the back of his thigh rise, and I thought that I’d personalize my pad by placing my rice man character in the same location. I prefer this placement over the outside knee flap that some people have opted for. I would consider adding the name embroidery beneath this character similar to how it was done for Halak and Emery. Rice man on the SubZero thigh rise. Name embroidery. I requested to have the embroidery on the outside of the vertical roll. I really like the contrast between the roll and the embroidery. I also asked to use the pro italic font, which looks really sharp! An option that I’ve seen is to go with screen printing, but I like the look of the embroidered text. CHRISLE9 on the pad’s outer roll.