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JR Boucicaut

Sher-Wood EK15 - Stewie

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First off, I'd like to thank MSH, JR, and Sherwood Hockey for this excellent opportunity. I've been very excited to check out this product since I first heard about it, As it has my ideal shape shape, kick, a great price point for a top end release, and a great look to it.

When I first heard mention of this stick, the advertising of "lightest on the market" had me afraid that Sherwood would jump away from their less is more graphics approach, however its actually cleaner looking to me than the Nexon series its replacing. Upon receiving it, I instantly noticed it was not only super light, but also very well balanced. I received a 75 flex RH Ryan2 pattern model (their p88 equivalent).

So far, I have had it out on the ice one time, which I will elaborate more on later, but I was very impressed with the performance. My next post will be my equivalent of the "unboxing" as I am currently going through the photos I took pre-cut to select which ones to show. I will then post an update on how my first session went right after that post. I originally was going to go to a few sticks and pucks and drop-in sessions without using the stick in an actual game, but since my first on ice experience was so positive, I will be next using this Sunday in my league game, I didn't need as much time to adjust back to the curve as I thought I might.

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Unboxing:

Receiving this stick, I decided to take a series of photos to show you the different portions and features this stick has. *Queue seductive base line* we will start at the top of the shaft, and work our way down.

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This photo highlights the markings of Sherwoods 4" flex free zone, as well as general markings where cutting will change the flex 5 and 10 points. My sharpie marking is near where I ended up cutting it, going a little closer to the +5 mark once i finally measured it in skates. I might further modify my cut a little once i get a better feel for how the length is working.

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This photo illustrates the shaft, but also I think is good at showing the transition point between where the grip ends on the grip version of this stick, and where the matte finish takes over through to the tip of the blade. The grip on this stick is fairly tacky, feels similar to my 11k's griptonite to me with a glove on. I'd like to see a middle ground grip option offered, but I seem to be adjusting back fine. The stick will also be offered in a non-grip, so you have that option as well.

IMG_0012_zpsdf0f7b66.jpg

Close up of stick feature markings, which include the pattern, lie, base flex, and grip indication for the Grip stick. Also of note, although this is a straight on shot, you can notice the EK15 has rounded corners. Paired with the double concave sidewalls, this stick just seems built for my relatively small 31 year old hands, senior flex with ideal dimensions, just right! This will obviously vary based on personal preference, but Sherwood already has some great bonus points here in my eyes. The biggest drawback of my current 25k is, although it has rounded corners, the sidewalls are straighter and it feels much more boxy in my hands.

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This photo was taken to kind of show the concavity of the shaft as best i could. I think its most visible near the transition point of grip to nongrip, where you don't get fooled by the depth defying shiny gloss. the words towards the top of this photo say "lowkick flex profile" as it is a Lowkick stick, once again a personal preference thing of mine, which you may or may not share.

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The backhand. the blade feels pretty stiff and you can definitely feel the VRF.2 foam in the blade.

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Forehand, with VRF.2 designation. The EK15 much like the Nexon is a true one piece spear design. As I mentioned before, I am a big fan to the less is more graphics of a stick. the weave shows nicely through and the sticks finishes I feel through out are done tastefully.

Post cut, an already light stick felt even lighter, and since I, as well as many others, have never used a stick this light, I am initially very excited to try it out. Previous to trying this stick, I had grown away from top line lower weight sticks as I hadn't really noticed much of a difference in my game from top line sticks I have tried, but perhaps the EK15 will change my mind in that regard, or further solidify my position.

I covered the top in a layer of blue 1:in cloth tape, made a butt end of spun tape, and covered it all in my currently preferred Renfrew grip tape. The bottom was covered in a 1.5 inch white tape, leaving toe exposed so I could see how that wears, first running a puck over the tape several times, than coating with some Howies wax. The stick was then good to go after replacing the top plug, and my next post will be my initial thoughts after using it for a 2 hour stick and puck "get to know the EK15" session, and a single game. Will the EK15 provide impressive performance and quality durability????

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First Impressions:

My first date with the EK15 was a trip to a stick and puck at a local ice rink. These are usually a treat because the daytime S&P's around me usually have no other takers, so I get the ice to myself. This time, they did not even resurface the ice from the night before, so the rink was a snowy mess in most parts, but not too bad. conditions ranged from beer league late third period to straight up pond hockey quality ice. Also of note, the nice young lady who told me she would be turning the lights off must have lost herself in a steamy vampire romance novel, so it was also fairly dark.

Working with these conditions, I decided to first see how this stick would handle. I noticed one thing off the bat, the lightness of the stick makes my hands and arms feel like they are way faster than I remember them being. Coming from my mid tier 25k, it felt like a feather. I was worried that this would cause me some troubles, however, this wasnt even close to the case.

One thing I noticed off the bat is how well the puck feel on this stick is. It's pingy, and sounds like the stick could crack at any moment, however I have puck feel that I've never felt before. I think this stick just sings to me, maybe not like a smooth R and B voice calming my ears, more of a raspy whiskey throated Ben Nichols type of voice.

As for the stiffness, coming from mostly reebok sticks recently, this feels pretty much what I would consider to be "true to flex". Post cut I'm at about a 79 and that seems pretty ideal to me. As I started getting into more shooting, I realized this stick has what seems like an ideal kick point for me. Loading and unloading, the stick feels fairly natural, and I get the best velocity out of a stick that I have had yet. I am not much of a "post and in" kinda guy, but that seemed to be happening a lot, as well as a few post and outs as I get more used to going back to the p88. I noticed some big boosts to just about any type of shot I was attempting, minus my backhand, but the straighter pattern I was using before would probably help attribute to that.

Oddly, I find this stick improving my normally fairly weak slapper. I only say oddly because I was not expecting this. I also noticed I could get lift a lot easier on shots as well when I was shooting in close.

To say that I found this first session positive would be an understatement. I was originally going to do a series of about 2-3 sticks and pucks before bringing it into a game, but this single two hour session gave me enough confidence and excitement to immediately look to game usage.

I found one negetive of it's light weight is that you really dont feel the normal arm fatigue from taking so many shots. I definitely noticed some repeated muscle usage tightness and swelling the next day however =)

The First Game:

Dear Diary: I think I have found love. Wether or not this is true love, or just a few week puppy love to be lost later, remains to be decided however.

I got the stick on ice for my Sunday Beer League game, and started out at right wing. My first shift with this bad boy, I threw a shot just wide, however the bounce came out to the side of the net, and I was able to pick the puck off the netting, throw it down quickly, and bank it off a leg and in. I thought I wouldnt really appreciate how light this stick is, but I noticed in several situations it just helps my reaction time so much! Later in the first, I had a quick turnaround, decent angled shot ring off the post, another Inch and Id had a goal, but it wasnt to be. In the second, I faced a scramble in front of the net and was able to bang away another goal by out working the Defenders, and reacting quicker. My attempt at a trick came mid way through the 3rd with my team trailing 4-3, I threw a shot around a defender and hit goalie leg, so it wasnt to be.

As for things I couldnt measure alone at the S&P, my passes were fairly spot on all night, wether forehand, backhand, or off the boards to someone further up the play. I was able to stick handle very well on fresher, less snowy ice, I just have so much more confidence than I have previously noted with a new stick. I also found receiving passes to be pretty good as well, Minus one I flubbed off the toe, but this might be slightly a curve issue.

As another testiment to my reaction being quicker, I came very close to redirecting a point shot on a penalty kill into the net, but it bounced on its side and just to the right of the goal. The tip just felt so natural! (thats what she said).

Two goals, nearly the third twice. Not bad for the EK15 first game on ice, and I look forward to skating with it more, and updating everyone on the progress.

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Unfortunately, in the time since my last review, I have only been able to make one skate. The holidays came on hard, and right before I was in the midst of the busiest part of my work schedule. I also developed some sort of hand blister thing that sits right where my bottom hand grips the stick, but I think its from knocking a puck down pretty hard with my hand during that skate, or possibly some sort of reaction with my glove.

That skate found me in a 90 minute organized pick up skate that I take part in semi-frequently (less frequently since I moved). These are usually pretty high scoring affairs as there are no stops, and the goalies are usually not exactly high quality, although this time luckily I got to go up against a pretty good beer league netminder.

I am still really loving my puck feel with this stick. To me, it has been unmatched compared to anything I have used before.

This skate, I really wanted to see how my passing would do, I had a little experience the game before with passing, but this gave me more a chance to utilize opportunities. I love passing with this stick, saucers, behind the back numbers, pretty much everything I was passing over got to my target. I got some compliments on my passes from teammates.

I managed to get a few goals in too, one on a nicely placed shot on a rebound off the back boards before the goalie could get back over, and the other one was in front of the net. The kick point on this stick really speaks to me and once again, love shooting with this stick.

The more I use this stick, the more I feel its the stick for me! As far as durability goes, just a little cosmetic chipping on one part of the blade, ever so slightly so far. I really took a lot of stick abuse this last skate, being one of the better handlers on my team and creating a lot of offense for my team, and it didnt show at all.

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amidst the chaos of moving into a new house, and working like crazy, I unfortunately havent had as much time on the ice as I would like.

I will however, in about a week, get a couple of damage report photos up, now that ive used the stick a good amount. There isnt much damage to note, outside of normal wear and tear, nothing crazy at all.

I still love this stick, in fact, I just purchased my backup. my 25K that is my current backup/D stick will likely be seeing the auction block. This stick just does everything i need it to do, and extremely well at that.

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still going strong. Think i might cut about 1/2 inch down soon as the puck feel has me more comfortable handling in tight than with other sticks where I used my peripherals more. One guy who subs in my Sunday team every so often and plays D highlighted the one part I dont like with my game and this stick, and its tip ins. I dont think I have played a game with him that I havent tipped a puck or two in, its something that I am usually pretty good at, and it may have just been this one game, but I missed just wide on three tip in attempts (although not horribly wide, and a small sample shot. Each would have went in had the puck traveled where I intended. A fourth tip did hit my target, however the goalie made a pretty good play on it and my streak was denied. I promised to show a damage photo, and havent yet, but really there isnt much. Perhaps ill do it when i hit the 4 month part here soon, now that I will be skating more regularly again.

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Playoffs have hit, and I have been skating more regularly again now that I al pretty much moved in and getting back into routines. I have "caught fire" in the playoffs, and find myself playing pretty strong. Easily my favorite thing to do with this stick on a breakaway is to just rip it 5 hole. you would think with how light it is and how much responce I get from my hands id try some more movement, but I find my release so quick that usually i can stare a goalie top shelf and just let it go low.

I actually took the damage photos and was going to load them up, but I finally after months have something significant (although not really) in terms of chipping that I will capture in a new photo and post. Its really just a small chip on the toe, but its the extend to which I see anything other than slight cosmetic chipping. Compared to any stick I have used, its probably tied for most durable Ive had with my 11k, wether its luck or the fact that I am playing defense a lot less than I did with the 11k, I dont know, but honestly I have had some times where I looked down to see the damage done by blockin a stick or shot etc, and have come up empty.

I taped up the backup stick with the exact same height and specifications, and Ill switch between the two in order to gauge any pop lost. I has a little hesitant and thought of re-selling the backup I purchased and going for their pp09, but I figure to give it one or two games with the backup the same pattern just to see, and then maybe selling the backup for the other pattern.

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Some months gone by, and this is still the only stick I have used (save for going to the replicated backup) since receiving it. Still low damaged, and at this point I have used my backup enough to gauge that the flex has maybe only changed about -5ish. I love the broken in feel of this stick, as when I use the backup I am not quite as happy.

I led the team in scoring this past spring, several nice shots, however I am noticing that most of my really nice shots with this stick are when I am more upright in stance. It is because of this I have listed my backup for sale and look to most likely trying one of three patterns of the EK15 next (ryan, smyth, or trouba). I think a little different lie will really help me on odd angle and knees bent shots a lot more as I preferentially play closer to the ice.

I honestly expected the stick to go by this point, but its not even close. Many mixed level drop ins, c/d league games, and hours spent just firing at sticks and pucks, still nothing major. Still great feel, faster hands, its made me better than I was before reception.

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