Friday, December 16, 2005

Shattered Kevlar

Johnnie Mac's sporting goods store in Crestwood is an athlete's paradise. They specialize in hockey equipment, and you'd be amazed at the variety of products they carry. They must have over 300 hundred different hockey sticks in stock. And hockey sticks are no longer the clunky, wooden variety you remember from years ago. They've gone all high-tech. And some have gotten very expensive, approaching $200 apiece.

Kevlar is the ultra lightweight and very strong synthetic fiber invented by DuPont used in making bullet proof vests. Like other space-aged technology, it has other uses as well, including the manufacturing of athletic equipment.

Matt plays with a "hybrid", "Z-Bubble" stick made by Easton. The good thing about hybrids, unlike their more expensive one-piece counterparts, is that the blades are replaceable. Replacement blades run anywhere from $12-$50 dollars. Snap a blade and the whole stick is not ruined.

To make them more lightweight and durable, Easton wraps the shaft of its Z-Bubbles with Kevlar braiding. You can see the Kevlar braid through the clear coat finish of the shaft. The result is a cool, 3-D illusion. The "bubble" in a Z-Bubble supposedly gives it more flex on a slapshot. Not ever having played ice hockey myself, I wouldn't know anything first hand about stick flex or making a slapshot...

Last nite, the Affton Gold House Peewees went on the road to St. Peters in the second game of a home-and-home series, trying to reclaim first place in their division. In their last game, St. Peters moved into first place by beating the Affton team at Affton, 4-2. So yesterday, it was Affton's turn, hoping to beat St. Peters on their home ice.

We made the 30-plus minute drive from South City to St. Peters, (and this with no traffic), arriving at the impressive St. Peter's Rec-Plex. This is the same facility which played host to 2004's Olympic diving qualifying tournament..

The Affton team started the game with a short bench-only 9 skaters; while the St. Peters team had lots of reserves, about 20 skaters in all. Nonetheless, the Affton team jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period. However, by the end of the first period, you could see the Affton players tiring, and St. Peters tied the score, 2-2.

Late in the game, the score was tied 4-4. With about 4 mintues to play, skating in a crowd, Matt unintentially speared a St. Peter's player with his stick. The Kevlar-wrapped shaft of the Z-Bubble shattered in two. He wasn't whistled on the play, but was sent to the penalty box for 2 minutes for not dropping his broken stick to the ice, a safety penalty.

Affton killed off the penalty, and with less than a minute to play, the score remained tied 4-4. Affton had played a strong game, and well enough to win, but it looked like this one would end in a tie.

Then with about 20 seconds left, an Affton forward, broke free in front of the St. Peter's goal. He took a shot over the goalie's shoulder, and scored. Affton held on for the final 17 seconds to win the game and move back into first place with a 5-1 record.

Back at home, plans are in the works to mitre down the shattered Z-Bubble into four sections, and turn it into a picture frame for Matt's bedroom. With Kevlar reinforcement, it ought to be good for a couple hundred years...

1 comment:

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