Review: Raven Hockey Sticks
Earlier this year, my oldest son Duncan was named the Raven Hockey Player of the Month.
The day they used his image across all of their social media advertising was a pretty exciting day around here -- second only to the day a few weeks later when a big box containing one of everything they make showed up on our front porch.
We #hashtagged the crap out of our own social media feeds those days. Kid was beaming with pride.
In the box, there was a hockey bag, sweatshirt, t-shirt, baseball cap, skate guards, knee hockey stick, lots of stickers, advertising posters with his image on them, some fancy ear buds and, most importantly, one of their new sticks in his flex and preferred curve.
See, Raven is a hockey stick company.
Short of sounding like a paid spokesman, even before attaining any of this swag, Duncan had been tucking two Raven 20-Flex sticks under his arm for the better part of two seasons.
He has a C88 (Kane) curve and a C19 (Backstrom) curve.
The C19 is his primary stick with the C88 getting very little use -- but he's required to have two sticks on the bench for all games.
He says he much prefers the C19 curve but I think that's more because I told him it's a Toews curve and, well, I think any educated hockey fan would prefer Toews over Kane any day of the week. I know I would.
Backstrom? Well...maybe not.
Anyway, younger brother, Henrik has also been utilizing a 20-flex Raven stick for over a year now too.
Well...one...maybe two. I'll get to those further down.
Prior to using Raven sticks, the kids used youth versions of sticks manufactured by Sherwood, CCM, and Bauer. In many instances, they were just sized down (and priced down) versions of their adult sticks which, yeah, sounds great in theory.
The Sherwood and CCM specifically even had a narrower shaft for their small hands which, to some, sounds like a great feature.
To me? Not so much.
I mean, it's like when you walk up or down a flight of stairs and the steps aren't their "usual" height. Feels weird, right?
The girth of the stick shaft is the same, in my mind. Get the kids used to wrapping their hands around the "regular" size.
Afterall, they don't make shorter rise stairs for kids, do they?
Of course not.
We then switched to one of the Bauer Prodigy sticks -- their first attempt, that I'm aware of, at a stick designed specifically for young hockey players.
I mean -- it even had marks on it to let new hockey parents know where tape should go and where to cut it and things.
They even offered a pink variety available for girls -- nice touch. Stuff like that matters to the youngest players.
Anyway, I thought it was a nice stick -- certainly nicer that the crap I'd used as a kid.
I'd picked it out because it was the first stick I'd encountered with an adult sized shaft and a youth sized blade. Perfectly appropriate for a 6 year old.
Or was it?
Actaully, no. It was too freakin' long.
I had to hacksaw off a good 6 inches.
Why was it so long?
I mean, what 5 foot tall kid would use this stick?
It was then that I saw one of Jeremy Rupke's HTH videos online talking about the Battlemode sticks.
They're a company that manufacture's sticks for kids just like Raven. I'm not certain who did it first...or who does it best...but Battlemode and Raven were at the forefront.
I showed my son the Battlemode sticks in the video and he thought they were ugly.
Frankly, he was right. From a vanity standpoint, they are ugly.
And it would have clashed horribly with his uniform at the time.
But now I knew that "real" youth sticks were, in fact, a thing up in Canada.
A 10-second google search led me to Raven -- I showed Duncan what they looked like and, moments later, I spent more than I ever had on a hockey stick. For a six year old.
Hockey parents...am I right?
Once it arrived, that was it for the Bauer Prodigy stick.
I mean, that sort of thing happens all the time when shiny new things arrive but he wouldn't even use it for off-ice sessions.
All Raven, all the time.
So I bought another one.
And then another one for his younger brother, Henrik, too.
Now lots of young kids think things are "cool" or "better" for all of the wrong reasons so here's my take on why the Raven sticks are better.
It's simple, really...
They're sized appropriately to prepare the kids for a seamless transistion to the next level of hockey.
An NHL player could hold one of the Raven 20-Flex sticks in their hands and it'd feel exactly like the stick they usually use. The girth of the shaft is the same as an adult stick.
The blade isn't ridiculously long either -- a huge plus.
Pains me when I see a kid struggling out there with an adult blade on their stick.
It's hard to walk in flippers or skis, right? It's just as hard to stickhandle with a blade that's way too long.
The lie of the blade is almost perfect too.
Youth sticks don't offer many options when it comes to the lie of a stick but for both of my kids -- the blade's lie was darn near perfect.
Perhaps that's just dumb luck...or perhaps Raven figured out that 99% of 50ish pound kids share almost the exact same proportions and developed the lie with that in mind.
And it's in that vein that they really stand out from other youth sticks. The length.
I haven't had to cut a Raven stick.
The 20-Flex sticks are the right length for kids that should be using a 20-Flex.
The 30-Flex are a bit longer...as they should be.
We don't have a 40-Flex in our house yet...but I'd assume they follow suit.
And why is the length so important?
Well, it's because an accurate flex rating (the bendiness) is based on the length of the stick.
If you're cutting length off the top, the flex is going up...rapidly.
Little kids aren't strong enough to put 60 pounds of pressure down on a stick. If your kid is using a sawed off adult stick -- it's more like 160 pounds of pressure that would be required to "flex" it.
At the same time, I fully realize that only one out of every hundred youth hockey players is acually utilizing the flex on their stick appropriately.
None of my kids do -- there's zero "whip" on their shots as a result of them utilizing the flex of the stick.
But...if they do figure out the proper technique, with a Raven, it'll at least be possible.
And that's the top selling point.
Using a Raven, they'll have the opportunity to develop the same shooting technique that NHL players use...but at a far younger age than ever possible before.
Now, of course, with companies like Raven and Battlemode establishing themselves and gaining traction at the youth level, Bauer, CCM, and True have all come in with lower flex lines of their own... I think STX is even getting in on the youth market too.
Love them to death but do you think Bauer or CCM really care about the performance of their youth stick lines? Yeah, not really.
Raven only markets youth sticks. They're not targeting the NHL. To survive, they have to be better.
And, for us, they have been.
Now, about those negatives that I mentioned at the top of the article...
My oldest son has been the recipient of chirps from both teammates and opponents regarding his use of a Raven stick.
"Nice baby stick," or "20-flex? Really?"
Stuff like that.
I mean, every team has that kid with the dad that goes out and buys the latest sticks for their kids -- spending hundreds upon hundreds of dollars each season.
Last year, it was the Bauer NEXUS 2N that took our league by storm. I mean, one team we played against, I swear, every player but the goalie was using that stick.
Yep, a bunch of 9 year olds with shiny blue $250+ sticks designed for players that are at least 140 pounds...except they sawed off a foot from the top so they're actually more like 120 flex sticks.
You know the kids -- putting all of their weight on their sticks before they even get on the ice to showcase the "flex". Every team has a handful of them.
If those same kids did that on Duncan or Henrik's 20-flex, it'd snap.
And that leads to another negative I've had mentioned to me -- parents saying to me that they've tried and don't like Raven sticks because they break too easily.
Yep, that's true. They do.
But only cause their kids are among those in the locker room putting their full weight down on their stick for no reason other than to try to break it...
It's a trending fad that I just don't understand -- "Hey, watch me try to break my own stick! I'm so strong!"
But those are the types of kids poking fun...and at somepoint down the road, when my kid is utilizing the flex on their stick correctly as a teenager and they're still not, well, perhaps they'll realize their mistake.
Probably not...kids never seem to think that way but my kids have a huge headstart and advantage as a result of using a Raven.
So, yeah, it takes a certain amount of thick skin and persistence to continue to use a stick that's designed for kids when your peers are all using adult sticks but my oldest son perseveres. He's a peewee and still uses a 20-Flex. Chirp away.
My middle son's team actually has a few other Raven users -- no issues there.
And my youngest, well, they're not old enough to chirp at one another about their equipment choices...yet. But he'll use a Raven too -- likely a hand-me-down...since my kids are smart enough NOT to break their own sticks.
So, yeah, get a Raven.
Or a Battlemode -- I'd bet they're great too.
Point is -- get the right equipment for the age of the player.
That'll line them up for success down the road.
They're the only youth sticks I've encountered that have the right blade, shaft, flex, and length combination.
Okay so, full disclosure... Duncan was a featured Raven Player of the Month in 2019 and we received a whole bunch of really cool swag for free from the company.
Like, a lot of loot -- that's most of it over there.
It was really exciting. We even had the poster framed and it's up in our house.
Like, it's still a big deal.
Moreso than that Bauer package he scored a few years back that I'm not allowed to talk about.
For the record, Bauer does NOT sponsor youth athletes.
Or do they?
I'll never tell.
All that said, Duncan's not an official Raven Product Ambassador.
We don't have a discount code for you to use. (Yet?)
And we don't get a cut or some free helmet stickers on the side or anything.
Legit -- they just make a really great youth hockey stick.
Link: Raven Hockey Inc.
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Agree? Disagree? Let me know -- I love the feedback from all angles!