It couldn’t have come at a worse time.
It was overtime at the World Junior Championships. Canada and Finland were tied at one goal apiece and forward Cody Glass sent the perfect pass across the ice to defenceman Noah Dobson.
Dobson’s stick splintered in two, his golden scoring opportunity missed the mark and the Fins took the puck back to Canada’s end and scored.
Canada was out of the tournament in the quarterfinals.
That snap is happening a lot more often now, according to Regina Pats equipment manager Gord Cochran.
“It’s definitely more frequent now because of the composite sticks. Back when you used to have wood you could tell when it would get soft and you’re able to tell when the stick was starting to deteriorate. Now the sticks are so light and so stiff, and composite is all high-end material, so when the stick starts to deteriorate you can’t tell, so that’s the main thing,” Cochran said.
Players could choose to still use wood sticks if they wanted to, but Cochran said there’s no benefit to doing so. The composite sticks are lighter, allow for harder shots and make it easier to stick handle, but admits it can be frustrating for players who find themselves consistently breaking them.
For the Pats, former defenceman Connor Hobbs was known for breaking his sticks with his killer slap shot. Cochran also pointed to forward Nick Henry – who was recently traded to the Lethbridge Hurricanes – went through his share of sticks as well. Cochran said he was on his fifth type of stick before he was traded in late November.
All the broken sticks go back to the manufactures for analysis to hopefully make a better stick and improve on some of the weaknesses.
“There’s always ways you can change stuff; you can stiffen your stick up, change your kick point … but it just kind of depends on the player,” Cochran said.
As for why it happens, Cochran said it’s still a bit of a mystery. Though he has his theory.
“I personally think it’s grip strength, to be honest, there’s no real science behind it. There’s nothing that’s been proven, everybody has their theories on it, but it just kind of depends,” Cochran said.
For the Dobsons and the Henrys of the world – they’re likely hoping someone can figure it out soon.