Buying hockey equipment on a budget isn’t difficult.
By Erin Wozniak
While hockey remains one of the world’s coolest sports, the price of ice time and gear makes it one of the more expensive sports in the world as well. Indeed, short of buying a horse and playing polo, you likely won’t find a more budget-intensive physical activity than ice hockey. Just because your salary doesn’t measure up to Alex Ovechkin’s eight-figure paycheck, however, doesn’t mean you have to give up the sport and play basketball instead. Here’s how to make buying hockey equipment on a budget a snap.
The Newest Model Isn’t Always Best
Just like Ford rolls out a brand-new Mustang each year for car enthusiasts to drool over, so too do the biggest hockey equipment manufacturers pack their pamphlets with examples of next-generation products. While it may be tempting to buy a new stick for $700 when you read that this year’s release has better flex, a superior toe grip, and a carbon fiber shaft that resists breaking, if last year’s stick can be bought for just $70 don’t expect your game to improve tenfold by buying the newer product. Look through last season’s merchandise in order to find gear that’s on sale (with the occasional clearance sale in order for retailers to get the new merchandise on the shelves) rather than buying from the displays of the newest and hottest products.
Don’t Compromise on Size
The difference in price between a pair of gym shorts may make a shopper decide to buy the smaller pair for less money. There’s no risk in buying clothes that are a bit too small to save, but in a fast-paced full-contact sport like hockey, dropping down a size in order to save money could present a very real risk. Never buy skates, pads or helmets that are a poor fit, since even the cheapest piece of gear represents a liability if it doesn’t fit firmly and completely over the required area of your body. All the savings in the world won’t make you feel better if you take a puck to the knee, elbow, or jaw when your equipment doesn’t cover the part of your body you need to protect. USA Hockey reminds us that’s doubly true for goaltenders, who have to face a lot more abuse each game than other players.
Used sports equipment stores have exploded in popularity, as customers look for discounts on everything from hockey gear to tennis rackets to skis. Browse your neighborhood for a used sporting goods store in order to see what deals they can offer. Most secondhand stores offer a discount or trade-in credit if you bring your old gear in search of an upgrade, which gives you major savings whenever you decide you need new mitts or a better set of shin guards. Remember that the best hockey gear shows up in secondhand stores during the summertime, when most seasons end and players trade their old gear for golf clubs or baseball gloves. Check out the selection quickly once the weather turns warm, because not much will be left once the winter season resumes.
For some players, the most expensive part of their gear sits in their hands each game. A good hockey stick can cost a few hundred dollars on up to $1,000, but each penny will be wasted when the stick snaps. Remember that putting too much flex into a shot puts your stick at constant risk of breaking, leaving you with no choice but to purchase another expensive stick. To avoid breaking your stick, consider buying heavier wood or wood-composite sticks instead of brittle carbon fiber sticks. A casual player will have about the same release and power with a wooden stick for a fraction of the cost, while the extra weight serves to build up their strength with each shift. Wooden sticks famously last a long time; a point referenced by hockey authority Wayne Gretzky, who recommends players switch to wooden sticks.
Erin Wozniak is the Director of Marketing for Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for pro stock hockey equipment. Erin is an expert in web strategy and digital marketing and is a lifelong Chicago Blackhawks fan.