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djsalerno

Warrior Alpha QX

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Background:  I play all positions (D and F) depending on what's needed, but my overall game is about speed.  I'm not often going to put a puck through a defenders' triangle but I'm going to wheel around guys and weave through them.  My legs create space.  In terms of shooting I mostly use snapshots and wrist shots.  I'm about 5'8" and 165.  My sticks have consistently been cut to between my lips when standing in socks.  

Previous Sticks:

  • Warrior QRE
  • Warrior QRL
  • Warrior HD1
  • True A6.0 SBP
  • CCM Super Tacks
  • Easton CX
  • Easton V9E
  • Easton V9

Stick Specs:

  • 75 Flex
  • Grip
  • P28

Preface:  It's possible you've read my other stick review about the Warrior QR Edge stick, but if not I'll start this by saying that I'm a loyal Warrior hockey stick patron.  Please keep that in mind when reading through my review as I want to be forward that I do really like Warrior sticks.  I will certainly try to keep things as impartial as possible, but my bias might sneak through every once in a while.  The stick line I've been consistently using for the last few years has been the Warrior Covert line.  I've used a Widow for a very short time, the DT1, the QRL.  That said, every once in a while I've tried out some mid/high kick sticks as well as I've had some good experiences with the way they shoot and overall solid feeling (Bauer Total One, 1st Gen CCM tacks stick, Easton Synergy HTX before the blade fell apart, Warrior HD1)

Blade:  I think that this blade has some really great characteristics;  To me it feels like it's livelier in terms of it's pop and spring, but manages to have a bit of a dampened feel to it.  Where I feel that if you were to fire a puck at a Covert blade it might go pinging off, the blade on the QX might be able to absorb a bit of that energy and hold onto the puck.  The interesting part is that it uses the same HardcoreX foam as the QRL (The QRE uses a SoftcoreX foam).  It might just be my perception, but I could also see the responsiveness of the low kick taper contributing to the lively feeling of the blade.  A mid kick, with all of it's characteristics about maximum energy loading through the middle of the shaft, could work the same way while receiving energy from the alternative end, the blade.  Not sure if my hypothesis is even close to having an effect, but it's just my gears working.  The blade has some great stiffness to it, it certainly feels like it holds up during loading and allows your blade to stay true.  For me, the slightly dampened feeling (again, this is how I felt the blade to be) contributed to some lost handles while weaving through the neutral zone.  I'd overskate or just lose feeling for where the puck was on my blade.  If I had committed myself to getting used to the feeling of this stick I'm sure that it would be fine, but I was certainly fighting it for the 3 months I was exclusively using this stick.  The stick felt more natural towards the end of my usage with it, but after going back to a Covert I had the same sloppy stickhandling when going back to the QX.  

Stickhandling/Receiving Passes:  As explained above, I had some trouble at first getting used to this blade.  I do, however, think that this blade will suit a lot of people.  It's stiff, true, and overall helps contribute to positive characteristics of this stick.  Receiving passes is relatively easy with this blade.  I didn't have to cradle the puck as much as I would have to with a Covert stick.  Actually, the puck feel and pass reception remind me a lot of the Easton V9.  It had a soft feel, but certainly not a Bauer (non vapor) soft feel.  In terms of overall stick feel while stick handling I think it felt solid in my hands.  I know the Saber Taper is supposed to act as not a pure mid kick, or a pure low kick, but somewhere in between the two where you get more power and stability through the taper.  I think you can feel this while stick handling.  I've heard the criticism that certain low kick sticks feel frail in the hands.  The combination of thin, responsive taper and lively blade may create the "wet noodle" effect where the stick is almost flexing while stick handling or receiving a pass.  There's a certain consistency that I associate with more solid feeling sticks.  You know what your'e going to get out of them, you how that stick is going to feel when you get a pass, you know when you lean on it in around the boards that it's not going to fold, or brace, or react in any unexpected way.  I think, if I were to characterize the feel while stickhandling I'd describe it as consistent, and I mean that in the most positive way.  

Shaft/Flex:  Warrior describes the shaft dimensions of this stick as concave sidewalls with rounded corners.  I've heard the term "dogbone" thrown around as well and I find that to be pretty accurate.  The corners round out but the middle of the shaft(front and back) sinks in, giving you a comfortable, almost ergonomic feeling in your hands.  It's not quite like a vapor shaft dimension where it's rounded and, to me, feels a bit smaller in your hands, but I could see how someone could make a comparison.  Moving down the shaft you'll find the Saber taper which, to my understanding, is not as low as a Dagger taper, but still should provide a quick release while allowing for increased power and stability when compared to the former.  From my stick experience, this reminded me of the Easton V9.  From what I remember the stick was called a mid-low kick where it was not going to be as low as a V9E, but it was not a true mid kick either.  It would allow you to load in to your stick but could still provide a quick, responsive release.  Really, that's what attracted me to give this stick a try as I had fond memories of my V9.

Shooting:  While I think we all understand that puck feel and stick handling are a huge part of judging a stick, I think the "sexy" characteristics are in how the stick is going to shoot.  Goals and scoring are marketable.  Unless your Dan Girardi or Kris Russell I doubt any kid imagined blocking a shot in game 7 of the SCF to win.  I'd like to start by saying that I think that this stick, in my hands, did what it advertised.  It felt as though it loaded well, and gave me a bit more stability while loading all of that energy into the shaft/blade.  It felt like I could still get a shot off quickly when I needed to.  It felt like I could count on this stick to hold up while digging around the boards to retrieve a puck.  I say all of this while saying it does not necessarily suit my game.  I found that the stick really shined when I had time to get my hands and body over the puck and lean into a snapshot.  Unfortunately, that doesn't often happen for me and most of the time, it felt like I was using the stick to 80% of it's potential.  I don't want this to come off as, "unless you have time to dust the puck off you'll never shoot well with this stick".  In fact, I'd like to dispel that right now.  I just felt like it didn't work out for me.  I think a lot of it comes down to my shooting mechanics and the types of situations I find myself in during games.  If i was a "heavy" shooter looking for a more responsive stick I think I'd really enjoy this.  If I felt like I could "overload" a low kick or dagger taper, I'd probably like the shooting characteristics of this stick.  I am, however, neither of these things so it always felt like I was using a butcher knife to peel a carrot;  It'll get the job done but in my hands, it's the wrong tool.  

Weight/Balance: The QX is listed around 410g.  I've said before that most top end sticks hover around the same place and I put a bit more stock into the balance of a stick contributing to how/why certain sticks will feel lighter in your hands than others at the same weight.  I like blade light sticks as I think it contributes to my perceived and preferred "crisp and responsive" blade feel.  The QX feels balanced in my hands but I don't quite think it felt as good in my hands as the QRL.  Again, that's my preference and the QX is a light stick with a good balance to it.  From my experience I think that Warrior hockey does a great job of making their sticks light enough, while giving the right balance to make sure that they don't feel too blade or handle heavy.  I know some defensive guys who really like having some weight (perceived weight through actual grams or balance) behind their sticks/blades for poke checking.  Same applies to heavy shooters as Force = mass x acceleration (please, physicists don't kill me over that, it makes sense in my head haha)  I think I'll bring it back to the idea that the QX just feels solid in your hands.  The weight and the way it's distributed adds to the "story" of this stick line.  I think for players who like having a stick that just feels consistent, the weight and balance of this stick help contribute to that.  I think if the weight was distributed differently it might feel like you can't depend on the stick to perform during heavy actions, ie battling in front of the net, digging for rebounds, battling for pucks in along the boards, taking faceoffs, or lifting sticks (or getting your stick lifted or slashed).  

Durability:  I have never had an issue with Warrior sticks in terms of their durability.  That being said, it's possible I'm just lucky.  I'm not particularly hard on my sticks in terms of leaning heavily in to them, or digging around in the corners, or jousting with players in front of the net.  I've found the QX blade held up nicely; the blade kept its' stiffness, responsiveness, and didn't split anywhere.  The shaft, and importantly the taper, have held up well only showing cosmetic blemishes.  It hasn't "whipped out", and the stick shows no signs of failure any time soon. 

Intangibles:  N/A today.

Conclusion:  I'll focus more on the story the Warrior Alpha QX is trying to tell and whether or not I feel that the stick lives up to it.  To me, the Alpha line is meant for someone who wants a stick that can be a bit of a workhorse but has some finesse as well.  It can handle being heavily leaned in to but can also be responsive enough to beat a goalie who gets a clean look at your shot.  It can battle behind the net but also score the game winner.  I'm waxing poetic but if the Covert is the sniper, then the Alpha is your captain.  It has a specific profile, but it's an all around stick that does a lot of things well.  I think it loads well without sacrificing quickness.  It is, and will stay consistent in it's feel.  This stick wasn't the right tool in my hands, but  I think that there's a large portion of people out there who will benefit from the characteristics of this stick.  If i'm scoring this stick, for me it's 7 only because it just never felt right.  I was fighting the stick.  For reference, the QRL is a 10, the A6.0 SBP would be a 7, the HD1 would be an 8 (I preferred the blade feel of this stick), the V9E would be a 9, the Super  Tacks would be a 6.  I want to be very clear though, these numbers have nothing to do with performance, it has to do with my performance with the stick and it's match to me...NONE of these are bad sticks(in my opinion), they just don't fit me.  

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