The guys over at Exclusive Hockey have sent me some more sticks to test. I had the SKT Ninety and the Color D-90. My first review is from the SKT.
This stick has a Tri-Core technology to which means it has a 3 core construction, this gives the stick an excellent level of stiffness. This stiffness doesn’t negate any feel on the ball, the feedback from the stick is superb. I found it very easy to dribble with the stick and found that it was responsive enough to know where the ball was on the stick at any time while playing. The stiffness of the stick also made it very easy to use 3D bounce skills to lift the ball over flat sticks in close play. The stick also has a soft touch compound on the face that was a little worn on the test stick I was using, I do not know how much this tester stick had been used previously but want I will say is that after some wear on the head the touch compound still aided in cushioning the ball when hard passes came in.
Hitting is where this stick excels, as mentioned already this stick is very stiff thanks to the 3 core system. The added stiffness means that you can really get some power on the ball. The added internal ‘wall’ in the stick means that the face has stronger support to the face and so the transfer of energy to the ball is amazing. This is a low bow profile of the stick allows you to get under the ball really easily and lets you fire it into the top corners of the goal. I found it really easy to hit flat and into top corners but did struggle a little with controlled lifts when shooting. Because this stick transfers so much energy to the ball when hitting it is easy to put ‘too much’ on the ball and lifting it over the bar if you are not concentrating. With practice it becomes really controllable but it is something to keep in mind.
This stick is also amazing to slap hit with. Getting down low and sweeping the ball hard across 30 yards to a team mates stick or firing the ball low for a deflection on a penalty corner, the force that you can transfer off a small back swing is truly impressive.
This is where the stick does fall a little short in my opinion. While the stiff construction of the stick definitely aids in directing the ball when flicking the lack of flex in the stick makes it feel like a very 'heavy' stick to flick with, as there is no flex to add additional power to the flick at the point of release. This maybe to some players liking but it isn't to mine. That being said if you put in the effort then you can easily pick your spot in the goal, but you can feel all the power you put into the ball through the stick.
As with hitting on open stick hitting upright on reverse, it’s very easy to get power on a clean hit. Unlike on the open stick it is not as easy to control hits when hitting upright reverse, this is because of the shape of the head and the angle of the face. When hitting it’s easy to fire the ball more to the right then you are aiming. When it comes to tomahawks the reverse edge is quite thick and the stiffness of the stick means that you can really tank the ball hard and flat if needed or lifted into the roof of the net. As is always the case with hitting reverse the control of the shot is always dependent on the arch of the swing with the hit, but with the right technique it is very easy to place the ball into the corner of the goal or to a teammates stick.
I with flicking this is definitely a weaker point for this stick. That said it is still a max low bow meaning that with proper technique you can throw the ball hard into the corners off the goal. Again because there is no flex to the stick it means you don't get that extra 'kick' from the stick as you finally release the ball this means you have to keep pushing right through the flick. While in training this morning so not too bad at the end of a 70 min game when you're tired and it's 0-0 and an added time short corner, this extra energy requirement might be the difference between scoring and the shot being saved.
The same is true of aerials, with the right technique you can easily launch the ball 30+ yards down the pitch to a team mate, but you have to put every ounce of energy into the ball to get it that far. And if you are throwing 20+ over heads per game they could start getting shorter and shorter everytime.
It you do alot of hitting and slapping then this is a stick for you to look into, and if you can get your hands on.
Head over to Exclusive Hockey to find out more
I was testing this stick at the same time as the Color D-90 and I think both suffered a little in comparison, as ones sticks weakness was the others strength and so the weakness looks weaker and the strength looks stronger. I think I have amended the scores accurately but I do want to make a point of this.