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Doug Bodger w/Hockey Stick
Doug Bodger talks about the stick.

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Hockey Sticks

Just as each player has his own preference when it comes to sharpening his skates, each player prefers his own customized stick. Players develop their preferences for sticks over the course of their careers. The differences between the sticks can be significant. Some players prefer longer, straighter sticks; others prefer sticks with more curve on the blade. Still other players prefer a different "lie" in the stick. (The lie determines the amount of the stick blade that comes in contact with the ice.) It is all very personalized and the players themselves spend many hours preparing their own sticks.

High-Tech Hockey

Newer materials continue to make inroads into the game of hockey. There are now aluminum shafts, carbon- graphite shafts, and even sticks and blades that are entirely made of carbon-graphite. Graphite, carbon- graphite, and aluminum shafts and sticks provide strength and generally weigh less than wooden sticks. Some players believe that they shoot better and stick-handle better due to the new materials. Another reason many players are switching from wood is that the ideal wood--rock elm--has become scarce due to Dutch elm disease. Many manufacturers are turning to white ash, which is not nearly as sturdy as elm.

Mike Aldrich gives a tour of the Sharks stick room.
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The Stick Room
Fiberglass, aluminum, and carbon-graphite sticks and blades fill the Sharks stick room.

What's in a puck?

Hockey pucks have been around nearly as long as the game of hockey itself (a ball was used in early games). Depending on who you talk to, the first use of a puck was in Kingston Harbour, Ontario, Canada in 1860. While it's unlikely that this first puck was made of rubber, it wasn't long after that that the rubber puck made its entrance into the game. Natural rubber is one of the most elastic substances known. A puck is compounded with other materials to give it strength and to make it less elastic, but pucks still have a rubbery nature.

To take some of the bounce out of a puck for a game, it's frozen beforehand, and even kept frozen between periods. Most substances behave similarly when heated or cooled. Adding heat to a system (the puck) is essentially the same as adding more energy to it; if the puck is storing more energy, it will bounce higher.

To get an idea of how the temperature of the puck affects its motion, you can experiment at home if you have two spare pucks laying around. (This will also work with two baseballs.) Put one in the freezer for a couple of hours while leaving the other one out to sit at room temperature. Find a flat area of cement where you can drop the two pucks. Drop the pucks from about waist-high and observe how they bounce after they hit the cement. Notice that the room temperature puck bounces higher! Then try to drop them at the same time from a balcony, or simply throw them up in the air at approximately the same distance. When they hit the ground, watch how the warmer puck bounces visibly higher than the frozen one.

 Droping the Puck!
Try dropping the puck from a variety of heights. If you are feeling adventurous, try the same experiment with two golf balls or even better, two super balls!

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 The Gear:2-of-3

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