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JR Boucicaut

Warrior Dynasty AX1 - steve66

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Firstly, I would like to express my extreme gratitude to all at MSH, and to Keith on behalf or Warrior for making this happen. Thanks very much guys!

This is my first LTR and I hope to do a great job for you all, and answer any questions you may have along the way.

For my initial impressions I’ll give you a little background on myself, my style of play, and how I like my sticks to perform. I’ll then go over a
few of the key points of the stick, provide a little information, and outline my expectations of what these features may provide.

I will then be looking at how these expectations stack up to the actual performance of the stick, and how they relate to previous experiences
throughout my review.



Stick Specs

8454908319_b2bd246a49_n.jpg
Warrior Dynasty AX1
Grip
Flex: 100
W03 Kopitar curve, lie 5 – Formerly the Draper

8454908815_a5cde97936.jpg




User info

6’1”

230 lbs
Defence

I am currently using Easton ST’s with a Sakic curve. I have also recently used TotalOnes with P92 and P106 curves.

For reference, my favourite all time stick is the fused INNO Novius.




Playing style

I play defence and like to mix in a little offence. I pride myself on having a good breakout pass, and being able to make plays in the offensive zone. I like my stick to have good puck feel for when I’m attempting to dangle and thread a pass.

It’s important to me that my shots are accurate and can be snapped off quickly from the point and the top of the circles if I pinch. I tend to take quick wrist shots and snap shots, but throw in the occasional big clapper for good measure. I prefer a stiffer blade as I feel it helps to keep my shots on target, and ideally a shaft that allows for easy loading and quick release to beat the oncoming shot blockers.

When on defence I rely a lot on having a quick stick, and perhaps more so on keeping stick on puck, blocking passing and shooting lanes and being aggressive along the boards than I do by being physical. Because of this style of play, my stick takes a beating on the blade, and also up and down the lower portion of the shaft. I am not worried by paint chipping, so long as there are no signs of structural damage.



Appearance


8456004174_48c4a62771.jpg



Of all the Warrior sticks over the years, this is my favourite in terms of appearance. Gone are the flames and tribal patterns, which have made way for a very classy and sleek looking design. You can see about that the forehand and backhand designs are different.

It is right up there in my mind with any other stick on the market, and I’m expecting it to get noticed at the rink.



Stick features

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This Warrior AX1 packs in a ton of features, and true to Warrior they all have snappy little names and descriptive symbols. These are all displayed on the underside of the shaft.


Grip


8456004062_6ab5e9d9ee_z.jpg




This will be my first time using the Velvet touch matte finish grip. I have played with grip shafts for the longest time, and have had experience of using the various Bauer Griptac offerings, the Reebok Griptonite, Easton’s grip and also the older Warrior grip coatings.

In the hand the velvet touch has a real nice almost powdery texture, which when gripped lightly feels more subtle than a rubbery coating. Yet, when you squeeze the shaft it does seem to offer a greater amount of grip. I’m looking forward to seeing how this translates during play.

I’m expecting that stickhandling will be smoother, with my lower hand being able to slide more freely, yet hopefully still be able to lock down on the shaft when necessary during shooting.



Shaft



The shaft is double concave with square corners, which sits very comfortably in my hands. I am not a fan of thinner shafts and round corners. I like the slightly more traditional feel that the square corners provide.

To me the shaft shape feels more like my ST and the newer M5 than it does the TotalOne. So far, without any ice time, I like how the shaft feels.


8456004496_fcd52c6c29.jpg

The Ax1 features the AxySym Technology which uses compression carbon fibres on the back and under-sides of the shaft, with stretch fibres on the front. The theory is that this will allow for easier loading of the stick, with the compression fibres then recoiling to give a quick release.

The balance point of the stick feels fairly low. The new lightweight Hardcore X foam used in the blade would suggest that it is not the blade itself which is heavy, but perhaps more so the StrongArm feature at the hosel? The StrongArm feature means that the hosel is slightly thicker and taller than normal to prevent twisting.

I’m very intrigued to see how this feels and works in practice on the ice. As I stated before, my favourite all time stick was the INNO Novius. To me the AxySym appears to operate from the same underlying theory of the Novius’s boron spine technology. I’m hoping the effect will be similar, if not much improved.



Blade


8454908907_8e9c6a7842.jpg

Externally, the blade appears to be constructed differently to most other blades. You can see from the photo above that there is a large area on the face of the blade which is made from a different material, or at least has a different wrap. Looking at the Warrior stick tech info, this is the carbonised area of the blade. The carbonised portion is there to add stiffness and to be abrasion resistant.

Within the blade, Warrior informs us that there are two twinspar supports running the length of the blade. These are designed to reduce the amount of bending and twisting the blade exhibits when shooting.

Lastly, there is an aramid wrap on the base of the blade which is intended to ‘increase impact toughness.’

With all these items and features in mind, I am expecting the blade to be nice and stiff, just how I like it on my shots and passes. I am also expecting the blade to be pretty hard wearing for such a high end stick, which will certainly be tested my style of play in the defensive zone. It remains to be seen how the stiffness and toughness of the blade will impact puck feel, but these are all factors I will be exploring throughout the LTR.




Extras

Living in the UK/Europe, I’ve found it difficult to share information regarding the technologies in the stick. Keith is doing great work spreading the word via twitter in his StickTech features. And some information is available from the online stores via the Warrior illustrations.

Unfortunately, any links provided to the Warrior site, including from the assorted official social media feeds are geo-blocked. We get re-directed to the Soccer-centric version of the site where the latest hockey info is no-where to be found. If this could be amended it'd be much appreciated.



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Last night was my first opportunity to ice with the AX1.

Firstly, having sawn and taped the sticks to my liking, it was easier to get an impression of how this stick feels compared to others that I have used. Initially I thought that the stick was a little blade heavy and attributed this to the possible presence of the ‘strong arm’ feature at the hosel. With the stick prepped, and chopped the stick no longer felt slightly blade heavy.

When on the ice, handling the puck, passing and shooting, I was very happy with how well balanced the stick felt. The blade was very stiff, yet responsive and had excellent puck feel. The Kopitar curve I have been assigned matches the Sakic curve that I am familiar with perfectly. As a result of the combination of excellent balance, puck feel and familiarity with the curve, I personally felt that no adjustment period was necessary. (Perhaps if you ask my teammates you’ll get some smart responses)

Shooting with the stick is an absolute pleasure. I felt like wrist shots had an excellent explosion off the blade and the shaft was easy to load in all circumstances. On occasions I wouldn’t be in an ideal position to shoot (off balance, little/no weight transfer) but the pop of the shaft compensated somewhat. Perhaps this is the AxySym in action?

Shots were crisp, and I did not experience any fluttering of the puck through torquing of the blade/shaft.

I have mentioned that the blade felt very stiff. Some may expect a stiffer blade to be a little ‘pingy’ when receiving passes, but this was not the case.

In practice we had an intra-squad scrimmage, with some fairly intense board work, plenty of poke checks and lots of stick in passing & shooting lanes. No visible damage to report.

I’m trying to think of pertinent comment for the Velvet Grip. Perhaps the best assessment I have at this point, and perhaps it can be viewed as a compliment too, is that I didn’t notice it. Of all the grips I have ever used, this is easily the least rubbery and tacky in the hand. I have in the past had to ‘candy cane’ some grip sticks with tape if I wasn’t happy with the level of grip. So you could make the argument I like my sticks pretty grippy. This was not an issue last night.

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Another week of using the AX1 and I am still thoroughly enjoying using the stick. My overriding impression thus far is still regarding loading and release of the stick. It is effortless to load for all kinds of shots, and the release is lightning quick.


The shaft does not feel any more whippy than similar 100 flex shafts that I’ve used, but when you need to rip off a shot, or pass, it loads and responds very nicely.


The blade is holding up extremely well, and is living up to my initial expectations of being hard wearing. There is not a scratch on it, and has seen its fair share of battles along the boards and in front of net.



I love the stiffness of the blade. Personally, the stiffer the blade the better for my game, and this is right up there with the stiffest I’ve used. With that said, it is still very forgiving when receiving passes, and has excellent puck feel.



Heading into the long term review, my biggest question was how the stiffness and toughness of the blade would impact upon puck feel. Warrior have done a great job from my experience thus far in ensuring this was not sacrificed.


I am still happy with the level of grip the Velvet/Slick Grip offers. In a previous post I mentioned that I’m pretty fussy with the level of grip, and again it has been a non-issue. Which is great, the last thing you want from a vital piece of kit is to be second guessing it.


According to current marketing, the Dynasty line is targeted more to the power shooters, those that have a tendency for the snapshots and slapshots. I would urge you not to overlook this stick if you prefer wrist shots and a quick release. This stick certainly caters for you too.

Thoughts from the room:

Comments have been made on the more traditional styling of the AX1, and all have been positive. Like myself i prefer the new direction Warrior have taken with this stick, and the move away from recent tribal and flaming designs of recent years.

The grip also received a bit of attention too. One team mate said it reminded him of the old Easton Sharkskin grip, but a lot softer. Another commented on what seems to be a differential in the level of grip up and down the shaft. I don't know if it is deliberate or not, but the logos on the shaft have a different level of grip and texture than the non-logo'd areas. Other grips sticks tend to have the grip layer as the top layer, so it is the same consistency down the shaft. But as i have said above, i'm super fussy about grip, and it hasn't bothered me.

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Following a short hiatus, i've been back on the ice with the #AX1 this week.

Inspired by the photos that Keith had tweeted from the 'Let's Play Hockey' expo, showcasing the strength of Chara's custom #AX1, I was determined to put mine through a little more 'abuse', by making a concious effort to take more slappers than I do normally in any given game or practice.

For those that haven't seen them, here is one of Keith's photos from the expo:
BE74CL6CAAAIYDE.jpg

( https://twitter.com/warriorstickguy )


As with my previous experiences, the stick loads extremely easily for shots. The stiffness of the blade and lower portion of the shaft and hosel come into their own on slapshots. I have have not experienced any torquing on shots, and i was happy with the accuracy. There is nothing worse than when you feel the puck flutter off your blade after.

Taking a look at the stick thus far for visible signs of wear and tear... there is very little! Untaped, the blade looks brand new. I would expect to see some form of friction damage under the blade at this point, but there is none. I am forever poke-checking, and digging the puck off the boards which results in the end of my blades taking a beating. Again, there is no visible damage at this point. Very impressed on that front.

A couple of the other testers have experienced peeling of the grip. I have what appears to be a small amount of paint transfer from opponents sticks, and also a little smudging of graphics, but certainly no grip peelage, or chunks missing as i have seen on the rubbery grip coatings.

A small item that I haven't mentioned yet, which I think is a smart move, is that the grip finishes around the upper hosel/fuse point area. Referring again to previous grip sticks, the grip would typically extend to the heel of the blade. By not extending that far, the grip doens't get chewed up in this high contact, and high wear area. Personally, i'm not concerned about the aesthetics of a stick taking a beating during play, afterall it is a tool, but i know some are... I have wondered though whether a centerman may prefer the grip to go a little lower if they like to hold way down the shaft for faceoffs. I'll see if i can do some testing when i'm next on the ice.

If anyone has any questions about the AX1, be sure to ask here: http://www.modsquadhockey.com/forums/index.php?/topic/61415-warrior-covert-stick-lineup/

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I wrote in the introduction to my Long Term Review about the materials and technology that Warrior has utilised in the construction of the AX1 blade. I stated that my expectations were for the blade to be stiff and hard wearing.

Having used the stick exclusively and extensively in practices, pick up scrimmages and games, I thought it would be interesting to see how well the blade is holding up.

My initial observation regarding the blade was regarding the Carbonised area of the blade. Warrior claimed that this would increase stiffness, and also be abrasion resistant. Let’s have a look to see if this was accurate.

Original blade image:

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New blade image:

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You can see from the image above that the main portion of the backhand of the blade has extremely minimal markings, and could be mistaken for a brand new blade. The only giveaway that there has been any use is around the Warrior logo where there are some puck marks.

I do tape the whole of my blade which would explain why there are only puck marks on the heel, but closer inspection confirms that there are no cuts or damage on the blade from contact with skate blades or the boards.

Looking at the forehand side of the blade, it is much the same story. The face of the blade is almost free from abrasive marks, apart from where my stick tape ends.

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Again, upon closer inspection there are no real causes for concern, the marks are all superficial, including the one in the middle of the forehand.

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The AX1 blade also features an Aramid Sole, which is designed to increase impact toughness, apparently by up to 4 times! I have no way of quantifying the wear to prove or disprove that number, all I can do is show the wear present on my blade.

I have played mainly on Ice with this stick, but I have also played Roller Hockey on Sport Court and Ice Court. I have tried to get the best shot possible of the sole of the blade:

8620706075_17ef32114f.jpg

I hope you can make out that the sole looks in remarkably good condition. Given the surfaces I have played on, and the amount the stick has been used, I would have expected some friction damage to be present. Where I tape looks absolutely pristine. There is a slight friction burn at the heel, but nothing major.

I'll let you make your own conclusions, but I for one am impressed with the durability of the blade.

Whilst on the subject of wear, the shaft is still holding up fantastically too. I mentioned in my last post about some abrasive marks on the shaft. This is still the only sign on the shaft that I’ve actually played with the stick.

8620705937_d111dac901_z.jpg

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