New England Hockey Journal - August 2016 - 23
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THE DO'S AND DON'T OF MAXIMIZING YOUR BLADE POTENTIAL
By Phil Shore
t is an obvious observation that
the biggest difference between
hockey and any other sport is
that hockey is played on ice.
While field sports like soccer
or lacrosse can be played simply with
sneakers, skates are a must for the hockey player.
Just as important as wearing skates
is having skates that are properly sharpened.
"We went to Winnipeg with our son ...
and (a bad skate sharpening) ruined his
game. He couldn't skate. It encouraged
me to research this," said Brad Anderson, inventor of the Pro-Filer handheld
sharpener. "It's amazing how many skaters, the rivets are falling out, their blades
are loose. I've watched this for 20 years.
It's like going to the race track and not
paying attention to your car all season
There's more to skate sharpening
than just heading to the rink, handing
your gear over to the guy behind the
counter and hoping for the best.
"There's three keys to a perfect sharp-
ening. Number one is going to be sharpening the hollow into the bottom of the
blade," said Colin McKissick, general
manager at Wissota Skate Sharpeners.
"There's endless choices of different
radii, from extremely shallow to deep,
which will give them more bite or less
bite and more glide or less glide, depending on what they choose. The radius is all their own personal preference.
"Number two is getting even edges.
Number three is a proper finish on the
bottom of the blade or how smooth the
blade is, which also effects glide. The radius is the only thing that should be varied. You should no matter what have perfect edges and a great finish. The radius
is the only thing that should be varied."
Players are advised to know their
skates, know what's comfortable for
them, advocate for those choices, and
make the call to go somewhere else if
who you go to can't provide that.
"It's like a mechanic. If it's not being
fixed right, you should probably be looking for a new mechanic. I have people
who travel from out of state to get their
skates done," Wayne Zwicker, who runs
the skate shop H.A. Zwicker in Bedford,
Mass., said. "The best thing to do is start
asking at the rink. Who do you think is
good? And try them. Take a look at your
skate blade, especially when its new. It
shouldn't change the skate drastically.
The tendency is to take the toe and heel
off, and that's the sign of someone who
doesn't really know what they're doing. It
changes the shape and soon you're on a
rocker a figure skater wouldn't even feel
good skating on."
Another facet of skate sharpening
that there is some debate on is how often it should be done. What those interviewed said, however, was that much like
how the radius gets sharpened, when to
sharpen is up to personal preference.
"If I put my skates in the parking
lot and walk to the rink, they're dull by
the time I get to the ice. On good clean
ice you can get a good eight hours on
the sharpening. The rinks are so dirty
though," Zwicker said. "At the rinks, mud
and dirt gets in the rink. A lot of time
your sharpenings are lost from your walk
to the locker room to the bench. Reach
down. You'll feel all the grit. It's like
walking on sandpaper.
"It's what you like. Some people can
get them sharpened and go a month and
they feel fine," he added. "The pros, most
of them are getting their blades sharpened every time they step on the ice. Is
that necessary? Probably not. That's the
extreme. But they're also not paying or
having to travel to the rink or store to
get them done. It's more convenient for
them so they take advantage of that."
The latest trend in the skate industry
is handheld or personal skate sharpeners. Anderson's hand-held Pro-Filer
sharpener is a popular option, as is the
911 Skate Sharpener , a 115-volt portable
sharpener from Wissota.
As players become more in tune and
more knowledgeable about their skates,
the difference between a good sharpening and a bad one are more noticeable.
The portable sharpeners work under
the cliché, "If you want something done
right, you should do it yourself."
"We see a huge void for these average hockey parents to properly get their
skates sharpened, to give them the abil-
Continued on Page 45
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of New England Hockey Journal - August 2016
NEHJ August 2016
Our Starting Lineup
Around the Region
Bruins Beat: Ryan Donato
NHL New England
NHL New England Digital Directory
BONUS: Comm Ave Charity Classic gallery
NEHJ Skate Guide: Brand Loyalty
NEHJ Skate Guide: Sharpening 101
NEHJ Skate Guide: Buyer's Guide
Prep/High School Guide
NEHJ TV EPISODES
The Goalie Guru
The Hockey Mom
Summer Camp Directory
Hangin' Out With …
New England Hockey Journal - August 2016
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