If you’re in the market for a new hockey stick, this is a great time of the year for you. In the past month or two we have seen flagship Bauer Vapor APX2’s, CCM RBZ Stage 2’s, Easton Velocity V9’s and V9E’s, Mission Stir D1’s, as well as Reebok Ribcor’s. The fine people over at Bauer and Easton were so kind to hook us up with demo sticks to try out, so we grabbed our gear and headed to the nearest sheet of ice to see what all the hype was all about. Here’s what we tested:
All three of the hockey sticks have an exceptional lightweight and balanced feel. I’ll give the V9 and V9E the best feel straight out of the box, but not by much. The Eastons’ felt slightly more balanced than the APX2, but the APX2 had a more solid and durable feel. Graphically speaking, I like the Bauer the most because it’s not too flashy like the V9 and V9E. The TeXtreme Technology is the checkered carbon fiber that can been seen from head to toe on the APX 2 and that helps show off its noble look.
Easton Velocity V9E Stick takes the cake with the elliptical taper leading the way. Stemming back from the S17, this revolutionary elliptical taper provides one of the better puck feels in the game. While I’m personally not a fan of how this taper shoots (more on that below), it has a truer “one-piece” feel compared to the others; meaning I had a more accurate idea of where the puck was sitting at all times. Besides the elliptical taper, the Easton HyperToe blades had more pop than the single-density blade core in the Vapor APX2. To me, the Vapor’s blade seemed slightly “dead” and not as lively as the Easton’s.
Slap Shots & One-Timers
The best hockey stick for big and powerful shots goes to the Bauer Vapor APX2 because of its signature “Vapor” Intelli-Sense Flex Profile. Bauer slightly softened the handle area where your upper hand is located; so that you can pull and flex the upper portion of the shaft while boasting a traditional low kick point, resulting in deadly velocity. While the secondary upper kick point isn’t really noticeable when taking these hard shots, the power it supplied was. The APX2 is a 102 flex stick while the Easton V9 and V9E are 85 flex sticks, so some of the feedback here must be taken with a grain of salt; but I think an 85 flex APX2 would give me potentially more power, so I could really bow out the shaft like I was able to on the Easton Velocity Sticks.
Wrist & Snap Shots
I feel guilty not giving this one to the V9E because so many people love the elliptical taper because of the hyper-quick shot release it gives you, but the V9 takes this category. This one really came down to personal preference and shooting mechanics, I was most comfortable with the V9 and the APX 2, but due to the ultra low kick point of the V9E, I couldn’t get the power I wanted out to out of it (V9E). I believe the lively puck feel of the V9 is what made me choose it over the APX 2 because I was never able to be thoroughly happy with my snap shots coming off the Vapor. While the V9 seemed to have more pop but for wrist shots they were pretty comparable.
To sum it up; the V9 takes 1st place, the APX 2 takes 2nd place and the V9E takes 3rd in my book. The Easton Velocity V9 stick catered to my individual needs and was extremely easy to convert over from the Mako II that I had been previously using. The Bauer Vapor APX 2 stick was a close second, supplying more power for big shots than the V9, but didn’t have the exception puck feel and pop I really liked in the V9. Finally in third comes the Easton Velocity V9E stick. I hate to put this in last because many players out there love the elliptical taper and the quick shot release it gives you but it was just not my style.