Wood or Composite?

Posted at: 02/21/2013 6:27 PM
Updated at: 02/21/2013 6:33 PM

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It used to be a debate.

"Back when I played in high school, back in '94, it was all wood.  You could buy a stick for 50 bucks," Lourdes boys hockey coach Josh Spaniol said.

Not so much anymore.

"Every team I've played on in the past four or five years, everyone's used a composite stick," Lourdes senior defenseman Karl Krecke said.

The march toward composite hockey sticks has become a stampede.

"I don't know of anyone who uses a wooden stick anymore," Lourdes junior defenseman Lars Anderson said.

Even self-described 'old-schooler' Lorne Grosso made the switch to composite, and he's the only head coach Mayo high school has ever known.

"Kids will tell you they shoot better, shoot harder (with composite sticks)," Mayo assistant coach Todd Huyber said.

The new kid on the block is primarily made of fiberglass, Kevlar and carbon-fiber, which makes it noticeably lighter than its old-fashioned counterpart.

"It's mostly just the weight and the way it feels in your hands, so you get a lot more response with the composite sticks," Mayo sophomore defenseman James Johnston said.

But as with most things, better results usually mean a higher price tag.

"When you're looking at $200 a stick, and this year, we had a couple guys go through four or five sticks, that's $1000.  Not everybody has $1000 just lying around right now," Huyber said.

And unlike aluminum baseball bats, composite hockey sticks do break, so their lifespan isn't substantially longer than the wood sticks.

"(I go through) at least two a season, and a lot of guys break more than that," Anderson said.

To most players, that doesn't matter - they want composite.

"It is pricier, but I think it's well worth it," Johnston said.

Of course, they're not usually the ones stuck with the bill.

"Parents are thinking it's $250.  It's a stick.  You don't really need top-of-the-line," Krecke said.

"I've got a boy who plays squirts, and I have to pay $185 for a stick for him.  It's ridiculous," Spaniol said.