One week from today will mark the expiration of the National Hockey League’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. If NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players Association Executive Director Donald Fehr have not agreed on a new CBA by next Saturday, the League will begin its second lockout in eight years.
Fortunately for die-hards September 15th, 2012 also marks the debut of Miken Hockey’s newest stick, the Zero Limit. I have had the opportunity to demo the product for the past month and put the stick through its paces, exceeding fifty hours of ice time in forty days of trial.
The Zero Limit was brought to ModSquadHockey‘s annual Summer Jam, an extended afternoon ice slot reserved for the demo of future retail hockey products, by Miken Hockey’s Product Manager Jason Kacures. As with hockey equipment’s major players (Bauer, CCM/Reebok, Easton, Warrior) Jason brought a range of products for demonstration and critique. What Miken Hockey did specifically for the Zero Limit was produce individualized sticks for demonstration, critique, and later personal use based on our preferences noted before Summer Jam. My stick arrived with the BP10 pattern, a clone of Easton’s popular Sakic offering, and a whippy 70 flex handle.
After extended play the stick itself remains structurally sound, the shaft retaining its flex profile and blade yielding minimally against strong hand pressure. The stick’s performance plays very near to new. Shaft loading is returned quickly and efficiently, the former great on quickly released shots and the latter benefitting shots taken with a slab of ice. The Z1000 carbon fiber (exclusive to Miken) provides a good feel for the puck, something that is enhanced by the shaft’s texture (a hybrid of the old RBK Snake Skin and Bauer’s Tac-Spiral). While the stick is certainly not off-the-shelf fresh after fifty hours the major factors critical to an elite performing product remain a step above.
As outlined in the Miken Hockey cataloge (above) the Zero Limit’s flex profile was designed similar to Bauer’s new Nexus 1000, the shaft’s stiffest region centered at its midpoint. The resulting benefit is a stick that can absorb more force before releasing the stored energy off of its blade. My own stick’s reduced flex (seven points softer than my current) gave me a good chance to exaggerate the work the Zero Limit could handle. The stick returns from its stored energy to idle very quickly, giving goalies I have played with a bit of trouble on tracking pucks from my possession to their shoulders. As sticks age their ability to snap back to idle fades, and heavily used sticks will begin to grow a curve based on their handedness. I am happy to report the Zero Limit stands arrow straight and prepared to return the energy I exert on it during play.
The Zero Limit’s blade is no longer off-the-shelf stiff, thousands of shots and received passes marginally compromising structural integrity. Luckily for retail consumers the Zero Limit’s blade is stiffer than most off the factory line, meaning a slight drop in Zero Limit stiffness still lands it among other performance stick manufacturer’s blade rigidity offerings. The stick’s major flaw also occurs down below the shaft, a seemingly thick coat of paint chipping easily at the blade’s throat. Cosmetic problems are minimal to the performance of the product but a chink in the armor is something that can only grow, and never recede.
Miken Hockey did a wonderful job of getting the Zero Limit into the hands of capable testers and allow them to put the product through everyone’s own individual routines. While Easton Hockey touts it’s Stealth RS ii series as amateur player tested and proved, Miken was able to draw reviews from many more opinions, in skills sets across the entire board. Jason personally monitored the Miken Zero Limit thread on ModSquadHockey, taking our critiques and issues back to the stick’s production. The feedback from the gear heads at ModSquadHockey has been overwhelming positive, an opinion I am proud to add onto.
To any doubters sitting on the fence before committing to a performance hockey product from outside the market’s big players, Jason Kacures and Miken Hockey offer some assurance.
“[The money back guarantee] is to take the risk away on a $229 stick when it comes out. Give Miken a try [and] most likely they will like it as that is most of the feedback we get. If they don’t than they can go get the stick they were thinking about”.
It is hard to know your limits when there are none.
Miken Hockey has certainly pushed the limits of performance stick durability further than readily available and packaged it into an efficient and responsive stick. It is hard to know your limits when you haven’t reached them yet, the Zero Limit.