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JR Boucicaut

2015 Bauer Hockey Goal Catalogue

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Finally getting the 'Lundqvist Loop' on the back of the Reactor skates is a nice touch.

My one concern for Bauer, and it's been there for a while, is with their junior and youth offerings.

The fact is that when I advise parents and hockey associations on what to buy, I have to tell them that they cannot buy a Bauer pad that has decent medial surfaces (ie. the things you slide on when you're in the butterfly) under a size 26+1. This was not always the case. I bought a few sets of *wonderful* Bauer One-series youth pads that were 21+1, and were essentially miniaturised pro pads, which definitely does not describe Bauer's only current youth and small-junior sized offering the Prodigy 2.0. The Prodigy Youth pads are basically road-hockey pads. I can't teach basic techniques -- not even butterfly slides, but simple transitions -- to kids who are wearing them. The pads stick to the ice, and they get frustrated. And so, for the first 4-6 years of hockey, I have to tell goalies and their parents and the associations they play in not to buy Bauer pads.

It's certainly not impossible to make good youth pads. The Reebok X24s are very good, as are the CCM E-Flex II 760; the Warrior Ritual G2s are terrific, and the Brian's Netzero are solid pads as well. For some reason, Bauer seems to have simply given up on this part of the market.

The real shame is that Bauer's Prodigy Youth catching glove is, bar none, the best on the market. It has a nice, deep pocket that can actually hold a regulation puck, and the break is designed so that small hands can actually open and close it. The blocker's a little weak -- the finger protection is feeble, and the boards folds in half under moderate pressure -- but it is usable.

Still, I would imagine Bauer would much rather have people buying full sets of gear rather than just gloves. Having a great glove is nice, but that doesn't inspire brand loyalty the way a full set can. I've watched countless goalies enjoy the Bauer Prodigy gloves and then move on as their hands grow, and almost as many show up with shiny new Prodigy pads only to go home disappointed and frustrated after their first time on the ice.*

*Just to be clear, I never say anything negative to the kids; they're far too suggestible. I just observe their frustration, and then pass it on to the parents and coaches along with the simple explanation.

This is not to slam Bauer by any stretch: they make excellent products, and they're a crucial part of the hockey industry. My concern is that they really seem to have given up on the youth market, and that's a dangerous game even for an industry-leader in sport to play.

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