Sometime in the late 1800s, it is believed that the modern game of ice hockey was invented in Canada. Other than ice skates, the hockey stick is the most important piece of equipment in the game. Used to handle the puck, the hockey stick was first made of all wood. Even though advancement in technology changed the materials that hockey sticks are made from, wooden hockey sticks are being used today.
Wooden hockey sticks are made from either hardwood or laminate wood. Maple, birch, aspen, ramin or ash are usually the type of wood used. Sometimes, more than one type of wood is used to make a single stick. Heavy sticks are usually made out of hardwoods such as birch or ash. Lighter sticks are normally with a solid low density wooden core made from a light hardwood such as aspen or ramin and reinforced with fiberglass.
A wooden hockey stick is a wood laminate with a fiberglass around its core. Wood blocks, from trees such as maple or birch are cut, laminated with fiberglass and then cut again into a rough shape of a hockey stick. A block of ash is glued at the end of a stick that will form the joint between the shaft and the blade. Afterward, it is covered with fiberglass and dipped into resin. It then goes through a process of being shaped, heated, dried and sanded. Although wood is still being used, because of their light weight, composite sticks have become more popular. They are composed of reinforced fibers such as graphite and Kevlar.
Hockey sticks were first introduced in late 1800s and were composed of a wood shaft with a flat blade. The sticks did not change much until about 1940, when companies began making sticks from two pieces of wood were glued together rather than a single piece. In the late 50s, early 60s, companies began curving the blades to the sticks. A curved blade gives the player a more accurate shot and makes it harder for a goalie to predict where the puck is going. There are conflicting reports on who was the first to curve a stick, but Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and Andy Bathgate are the most common names to be credited. Thanks to modern technology, in the early 1990s, hockey sticks started being made from aluminum, graphite and fiberglass.
There are two main aspects of a hockey stick, the shaft and the blade. The shaft is traditionally made out of hardwoods like white ash or birch. The blade is usually made from the same wood as the shaft, but is also reinforced with a light woven fiberglass fabric. There are certain qualities that hockey players look for in a stick. Weight, flexibility, length, and the curve of the blade are the most important features to consider. Finding the right stick for each player is crucial to getting the best performance from each individual. All elements in a stick affect a player's shot. The weight, length and curve affect a player's stick handling. The weight of the stick is affected by the type of wood used. The use of aspen has become more popular because it yields lighter sticks. The key is to get the stick that will give you the hardest, quickest shot without compromising stick handling and passing abilities.
There is an ongoing debate over which sticks are better, wood or composite. Composite sticks are lighter and therefore produce a harder and quicker shot. Furthermore, players believe they get a better feel for the puck when stick handling with a composite stick. However, wood sticks don't break as easily and their weight is an advantage when battling for a puck in the corner. Proponents of composite sticks seem to be on the winning side because composite is by far the most common sticks used by both amateurs and professionals.
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