August 15, 2014

A cutting-edge skate revolution

By Phil Shore

An article on the National Geographic website says that ice skates have been around since 3000 B.C. and were originally made from animal bones. Based on a study from Federico Formenti of the University of Oxford in England, the article said researchers believe the skates were used in Finland for traveling across large frozen lakes.

More than 5,000 years have allowed for a lot of innovations and improvements.

Skates might not be used to help individuals hunt for food anymore, but skates are still important to hockey players.

Steve “Wack” Serwacki, store supervisor at Monkey Sports Superstore in Norwood, Mass., said that now is a great time to be a hockey player because of the advancement in skates and how to buy them.

“Buying skates now, or any piece of gear for that matter, is a luxury. Everyone makes great stuff on the whole, and we have so much information at our disposal, from product videos to online media to demo days to you name it,” Serwacki said. “It’s a great time to play this great game because the gear is made so much better and there’s so much more of it out there. We have options. Back in the day, you didn’t have options like you do now.”

FIT 101

According to Serwacki, the most important thing to consider is how the skate fits. “If the skate doesn’t fit correctly, a myriad of problems can ensue from that,” he said.

Serwacki said there shouldn’t be much wiggle room, especially in the heel. He said the heel should be snug. Also, there is sizing for the width of the boot, and that is important to take into consideration.

“Some people will alter between the two most commonly found widths, that being ‘D’ and ‘EE’ width. These variances are fractions within one another but can make a world of difference when comparing similar sizes,” he said.

“You also have to consider toe cap height, toe box volume and the ‘fill’ of the skate, that being how much your foot recesses down into the heel when you drop your foot in,” he added. “These are all important factors when looking for that great fit.”

The best way to find the right fit is to not be afraid to ask for help. The pros suggest going to a top-notch pro shop and trying on the boots yourself so you know exactly how they fit.

“You have to go to a place that’s reputable and a person that knows what they’re doing when you go for a skate,” said Union College head coach Rick Bennett (Springfield, Mass.), who also played in the NHL for the Rangers.


Many kids go to the skate shop and purchase the same equipment as their favorite players so they can look like them and because “if it’s good enough for the best, then it’s good enough for me.”  While using the players to promote equipment is a common marketing technique, the kids might also be interested in the how behind the buying process, not just the what.

What do the pros consider when they need new skates? For all, comfort really is the key.

“I don’t want something digging into my ankle or side of my foot,” said Keith Kinkaid, a goalie with the New Jersey Devils organization. “You don’t want something poking you or being a bother to you.”

Kids will be drawn to a skate because of how it looks, but for a number of pros, the look isn’t nearly as important a factor as how they feel in the skate. “Young kids might get excited about the appearance of the skates. They’ll think of it as an accessory,” said Jon DiSalvatore, who had 28 points for the Syracuse Crunch in the 2013-14 season and has scored 60 points four times in his nine-year AHL career. “It’s fun to look good and fast and more importantly you want to be comfortable, your heel set in the back, the boot isn’t too wide, and your toes are touching the top just a little bit.”

DiSalvatore said it was important to note that going to buy boots isn’t exactly like buying sneakers; the boots run smaller than your average shoe.

“I’m an 11½ shoe and I’m a 9½ skate,” he said. “You don’t want to order them the same size. The width too could be different than what you normally experience in a shoe store. I know there’s all sorts of ways to order online, but I encourage players to try on a bunch of skates, roll their ankles, bend on the edges, see how the foot feels shifting from side to side, because that’s how the game is played.”

It’s also important to break in the skates. Some pro shops these days have a special oven to heat the skates enough so when you put them on right away, they mold to your foot.

“I’ll have them use the skate oven and then you sit there 10 or 15 minutes just sitting, not walking around, and the molding will form to your foot,” Kinkaid said. “You do that two times, use them for two practices, and then you’re ready to go.”

(Getty Images)

My 1st Skates

How did you get your first pair of skates? Why did you choose the brand or model, or was it a hand-me-down pair? What was your inspiration? New England Hockey Journal asked three pros to chime in. Maybe some of their stories will resonate with you. Share your own “My 1st Skates” tales with us by email 

T.J. BRENNAN | N.Y. Islanders defenseman

“I didn’t start playing ice hockey until I was 11 or 12. I bought a pair of Bauer Supremes from Play It Again Sports. They were probably three sizes too small, but when I first walked in I saw them and they were the pair I wanted. I tried them on and they were way too small, but I told my dad I wanted them. ... It probably crowded my toes, but they were special.”

DREW MACINTYRE | Charlotte Checkers (AHL) goaltender

“I remember my first goalie skates were huge. I thought it was so cool. It was awesome. I was very thankful for it. I was a novice. I don’t know how old I was, but I knew my father was a goalie, so that’s all I wanted to do. It was just a confirmation I was going to be a goalie. That’s what was so exciting.”

JON DISALVATORE | Syracuse Crunch (AHL) left wing, (South Windsor, Conn.)

“I started out as a goalie and was wearing goalie skates. The goalie skates hurt me so much and my feet were so cold. I couldn’t break the skates in because I wasn’t moving. I got out of goal and started playing forward.”

This year's new models

Bauer |

Bauer Supreme TotalOne MX3
Multiply your max. The Supreme TotalOne MX3 takes power to a new level. The greater range of motion creates a faster and more powerful stride, maximizing your speed every time you step on the ice. The 3Flex tongue and Free-Flex tendon guard allow players to create longer strides, maximizing output with explosive energy transfer. Also featuring the Tuuk Lightspeed Edge holder, allowing players to change their steel in seconds and never miss a shift.

Bauer Nexus 8000
Control the game from end to end with the Nexus 8000 skate. Built with a fully heat moldable Curv composite boot, this skate is among the most elite in the game. Whether you are on offense or defense, the Nexus 8000 allows the player to have complete control in every stride with a classic, traditional fit. Highlighted with the Tuuk Lightspeed Edge holder, players can quickly change their steel in seconds and ensure they stay on the ice when it matters most.

Bauer Vapor APX2
The Vapor APX2 is the ultimate in technology and performance. Highlighted by the Tuuk Lightspeed Edge holder, which gives the player a greater angle of attack, the skate allows for sharper, tighter turns with the ability to get lower in the turn without “bottoming out.” The Tuuk Lightspeed Edge holder also features an innovative trigger system, allowing players to change their steel in seconds so they never have to play on a dull edge again. The new patented injected stability lacing system maximizes energy return and provides increased stability throughout the life of the skate. The Vapor APX2 is designed to make the fastest players even faster.


CCM Tacks
The legend is back. The all-new game-changing CCM Tacks were engineered to help provide players with more explosive acceleration. Featuring the all-new Attack Frame technology, which has extra-stiff composite reinforcements in key flexion zones, the T6 Pro Core and the SpeedBlade + 4.0 holder, the CCM Tacks are designed to help provide players with a faster first five strides.

CCM Tacks 6052
The CCM Tacks 6052 are designed to help provide players with elite-level stiffness and support. The Formula T6 core works in conjunction with the monofilament reinforced flexion zones in the heel and eyelet facings to help provide players with a better acceleration.

CCM Tacks 4052
The CCM Tacks 4052 feature an internally supported Attack Frame and a vented fiber nylon outsole to maximize the energy transfer and reactiveness. This skate also features the SpeedBlade + 4.0 holder for a more aggressive angle of attack.

Reebok |

Reebok Ribcor
The Reebok Ribcor skate was designed with an all-new agility profile. This allows players increased range of motion for forward or backward flexibility, resulting in a skate that provides the maximum in player mobility. This skate also features the Pump for added heel lock and the SpeedBlade 4.0 holder for a more aggressive angle of attack for players.

Reebok 28K
The Reebok 28K skate features the Ribcor Flex quarter package for increased durability and range of motion, as well as the SpeedBlade 4.0 holder, offering an increased turning radius.

Reebok 26K
The Reebok 26K features a dual-zone microfiber liner for increased comfort, formability and durability. This skate also features the Pump for added heel lock and the SpeedBlade 4.0 for an increased turning radius.

This article originally appeared in the August edition of the New England Hockey Journal. Click here to read the digital edition for free.