The men’s and women’s ice hockey teams are entering the thick of the postseason. However, the coaches and players are not the only ones along for the ride.
I sat down with Jamie Schilkowski, Quinnipiac’s assistant athletic director for equipment services, to hear how the teams’ sticks and skates are handled.
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Q: For the skates, would you just sharpen all of them before you go on a road trip or before a weekend?
A: Not all of them. Some players are a little specific on how they want things done with their skates. Some players want them sharpened the night before the game, this way they can skate on the fresh sharpening before the pre-game skate. This way, they’re ready and comfortable with how their skates are leading into the game.
Q: What does sharpening the skates really add to the play?
A: What it does is it smoothes out the edges of the blade. Basically, you’re kind of putting an indent in the steel, making what is called a ‘hollow.’ It’s creating a curvature in the blade so you can dig in and grip to the ice.
Q: Do players have different preferences for their skates?
A: It’s 50-50 with most teams that players just want to feel like they can stand up nice and tall on their skates. Mostly forwards, maybe a couple of [defensemen] that are a little more offensive, might have it a little more forward toward their toes.
Q: Do you communicate with the players before the season to gauge this?
A: Yeah. Returning players already know what they want, but for any new players that come in, we’ll ask them, ‘What have you gotten your skates sharpened at in the past? Do you want your skates profiled a certain way?’ and then we’ll gauge it from there.
Q: What kind of preferences would a goalie want in their skates?
A: The new thing with the goalies is, it’s not every goalie, it’s just been [Michael] Garteig, Eric Hartzell, [Jacob] Meyers, where they’re only standing on their inside edge. What that is doing is it’s allowing them to push off side to side a lot better.
Q: The skates can’t smell good, right?
A: Oh no. Anybody that doesn’t work in hockey, and even if they do work in hockey, will tell you the equipment smells pretty bad. I’ve been working in hockey now for almost 10 years so I don’t smell it anymore.
Q: Now, on the stick side of things, I imagine players are a bit more particular with their sticks. Are they more superstitious in any way?
A: Every player is different. Everything that we do is custom done to each player. … There are different grips, different curves and different flexes. Every player is different, but we make it work for everybody.
Q: Do you have a particular brand that is with the school?
A: [We] currently have a contract with Bauer hockey for our hockey equipment needs. So all the sticks that we get, all the skates that we get are Bauer. We are allowed, if need be, we have a couple of players that are just like ‘I really can’t use this stick. It’s not working for me,’ we are allowed to get a couple players that don’t use Bauer skates or sticks.
Q: Do they like to handle the tape themselves or do you guys tape it?
A: Every player has their own way of taping things, the end of the stick, the blade of their stick. They take care of that either throughout the course of the week leading up to game or on gameday. If they’re here a few hours before game time, they’ll put a fresh taping on their stick.
Q: Do you have all of your sticks ordered at the same time?
A: Usually we’ll do a beginning-of-the-year order to start the season, get all the sticks in for start of the season. Then we’ll reevaluate it around Christmas at the halfway point. Then we’ll take one last look towards the end of January, early February and say, ‘Hey, this is what we need to get us to and through the playoffs.’