August 13, 2012

From NEHJ: Walls of Game

What do the experts think of the technological changes in the works or on the horizon for hockey skates? Here's our survey of skate shops around New England and the Northeast.

H.A. Zwicker, Inc.

379 North Road, Bedford, Mass.
Phone: 781-275-0090
Web: www.zwickers.com

“Anything that’s being used in running shoes, in the ski industry, even golf will be useful. We live in the age of technology. You’ll probably see more and more of those things where you can download data into your phone, see how many strides you took in a game and a comprehensive readout.”

— H.A. Zwicker, Inc. owner Wayne Zwicker on skates working in conjunction with other forms of technology

TSR Hockey

5 Kelly Rd., Salem, N.H.
Phone: 603-898-7777
Web: www.tsrhockey.com

“Skates are designed a lot more anatomically now than they once were. They’re built for a person’s foot in their design. There’s a lot more design work that goes into skates than there ever was before. It used to be: build a boot, put a blade on it. They’re putting in millions of dollars to create their own machines to build skates.”

— TSR Hockey co-owner Dave Boucher on the advancements skate manufacturers have made

Hockey Giant

2100 Route 38, Suite 6
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
Phone: 856-324-6617

Web: www.hockeygiant.com

“Let’s say someone’s looking for a $200 skate, and the next level up was around $250, but had the advantage of a replaceable blade. On some skates, you can’t replace the steel on them after so much sharpening. So if they’re skating more than once a week, that next level up might be the better choice. I try to look at the advantages and if the benefits are worth it to them.”

— Mark Hullings, GM of the Hockey Giant Superstore in Cherry Hill, N.J., on finding the best skate for a customer

Hockey Monkey

949 Providence Highway
Norwood, MA 02062
Phone: 781-769-1754

1500 Route 9 North
Woodbridge,NJ 07095
Phone: 732-634-1446

Web: www.hockeymonkey.com

“It’s due to the volume that we purchase and turn over. We usually have good opportunities to buy excess skates that the manufacturers have when they’re rolling out the new ones. It helps us reduce our average cost, which we can pass onto our customer — probably more than anybody else can.”

— Rob Laurie on how Hockey Monkey and other Internet retailers are able to offer discounted prices

Pure Hockey

12 New England locations

1 New Jersey location

Phone: 866-PURE-HOCKEY (Berlin, Mass.)
Web: www.purehockey.com

“I think the biggest difference is the weight. Goalies can slide side-to-side a lot quicker, and it’s enabled them to be a lot more agile. With the cut-out cowling, the goalies can get down and crouch even further.”

— Pure Hockey’s Rob Howland on the changes goalie skates have undergone

South Windsor Arena

585 John Fitch Blvd.
South Windsor, Conn. 06074
Phone: 1-800-Hockey1
Web: www.hockey1.com

“When I first started out, skates were fairly light because there wasn’t much to them, but that was before the slap shot. As the game got more aggressive and players got bigger, taking slap shots with advanced sticks, skates started getting heavier and heavier as they required more padding. The new technology has changed that around where they’re considerably lighter and offer a reasonable amount of protection.”

— South Windsor Arena co-owner Lenny Gregorian on the evolution of skates

Westside Skate & Stick

174 Fifth Ave., Suite 504
New York, N.Y. 10010
Phone: 212-228-8400
Web: www.westsideskate.com

“Well, I feel it’s customer service. It’s going to bat for the consumer. We try to give the best product we can to the consumers. We try to allow the customer or the skater, both hockey players and figure skaters, to be the best they can on the ice. I’m not here to just put a skate on a foot. I’m here to put a skate on a foot that’s going to allow the skater to perform at their best.”

— Westside Skate & Stick owner David Healy on how one shop sets itself apart from the rest

Sports Etc.

1303 Massachusetts Ave.
Arlington, Mass. 02476
Phone: 1-888-81SKATE
Web: www.sportsetc.net

“There’s so many great skates out there right now. Ten or fifteen years ago, consumers would’ve gone right to the top-end price and picked it. But now, there’s so many different price points and the boots are so well-constructed by all the manufacturers that you can find a mid-level price skate that’ll offer the same benefits as a pro-level skate.”

— Sports Etc. owner Paul Stanton on the wide array of quality skates available today

NYC Skate Pro

47-32 32nd Place
Long Island City, N.Y. 11101
Phone: 718-706-6667
Web: www.cityicepavilion.com

“What’s most important is the fit of the skate, period. Anyone who tells you differently has never put a pair of skates on their feet. If they can’t walk around steadily or solidly, the fit isn’t right. Sometimes you have to let the customer realize through comparing it to something else. A lot of the times I let customers go upstairs and jump on the ice for a lap or two. There’s no better way of proving it than getting out there and using it.”

— NYC Skate Pro owner Jim Morris on fit being the most important factor when choosing a skate

Wesco Sports Center

270 Federal Rd.
Brookfield, Conn.
Phone: 203-775-2227
Web: www.wescosportscenter.com

“They’re far more customizable now. You kind of piece them together like a puzzle with different features from different skates, depending on the manufacturer. You can really put anything you want together as far as tongues, the liner, the steel and the TUUK.”

— Wesco Sports Center’s Ryan Doyle on customizing today’s skates

This article originally appeared in the August 2012 issue of New England Hockey Journal.