Ask Ray

If you’re new to hockey, or a seasoned vet – questions always pop up. I’ve outlined the information based on the most frequent questions I receive. If you can’t find answers to what you’re looking for below, please feel free to contact us so we can help.

Beginners — equipment

  1. What you need for instructional
  2. Skates (what to buy, how it should fit, how to lace, how to care for)
  3. Helmet
  4. Shin pads
  5. Elbow pads
  6. Pants
  7. Gloves
  8. Shoulder pads
  9. Stick (what to buy, how long, how to wrap)
  10. Other items you need

Beginners — other questions

  1. How to get dressed (order for dressing)
  2. Care of equipment – avoid moisture and bacteria
  3. Used equipment

Beginners — sharpening

  1. Caring for blades – so you don't have to sharpen as often
  2. How often should I have my child's skates sharpened?
  3. What should I do about hollow and radius for my child's skates?
  1. What you need for instructional
    • Check with your league. Every league is different.
    • Obviously your child will need skates and a helmet.
    • Elbow pads, shin pads, and pants may be optional – but we recommend you get them. In addition to providing safety, protective equipment will minimize the pain of falls. You don't want him to think "hockey hurts" and not want to play anymore. Besides, eventually all this equipment will become mandatory.
  2. Skates (what to buy, how it should fit, how to lace, how to care for)
    • What to buy:
      • Decent quality but not high end. You need a skate that is solid, supportive, and with a decent blade that can be sharpened (not a double runner!)
      • Please don't buy junk. Skates are very important to your child's success.
    • Fit:
      • First -- skate size is not the same as shoe size!
      • We're going to say this again and again: proper fit is important. Please don't try to fit your child without expert help. If skates are too small they will be uncomfortable. But if they are too big there won't be proper ankle support, your child's balance will be "off" because the blade will be too long, and if his foot is slopping around in the boot he will get blisters.
      • If investing in decent quality/properly fitted skates is an issue, street hockey might be a better option — that's how strongly we feel about this.
    • Lacing:
      • First – have your child kick her heel back all the way in the boot – this is very important! If she doesn't do this, her heel will lift up and down and she'll get blisters; and she won't have the proper ankle support.
      • Lace up the boots so they're snug. Parents – please don't constrict your child's blood vessels! In the old days, skates were made of all leather (so there was give), so you pulled the laces as tight as you could. Now boots are very well made to provide lots of support and they won't give.
      • Lastly, lace the boot all the way up. Use the eyelets – they're there to help provide ankle support (don't wrap the laces around the ankle). When kids get older they may create their own "style" for lacing, but for now – for greatest performance – lace the skates properly.
    • Skate care - click here
  3. Helmet
    • Proper fit is critical for safety (your child will fall). A properly fitted helmet will also allow good peripheral vision and will not shift on your child's head when he moves. Please don't try to fit your child without expert help. Hockey helmets aren't like bike helmets. There are many parts to a helmet that must be adjusted.
      We just fitted a child with a new helmet – a small helmet with medium cage. The small cage he started with was too small for his face and his chin was getting carved up – because the cage wasn't there to protect him.
      • Although manufacturers put medium helmets with medium cages – all heads are different! We will match the right sized helmet to the right sized cage for your child's head.
      • And we will adjust the myriad screws, slides, dials, and/or clips for optimum comfort and protection.
  4. Shin pads
    • If the shin pad is too small your child won't be protected. If the pad is too big it will ride up into his pants and he won't be able to skate properly.
  5. Elbow pads
    • If the elbow pad doesn't fit properly it may slide off her elbow.
  6. Pants
    • If the pants are too long when your child falls down he will have a hard time getting back up!
  7. Gloves
    • Too big and your child will have difficulty stick handling.
  8. Shoulder pads
    • Instructional players don't need shoulder pads, but once they actually start playing hockey they will.
    • Again, ill-fitting shoulder pads won't provide proper protection and won't be comfortable.
  9. Stick (what to buy, how long, taping)
    • Beginners start with a straight stick – until they figure out what shot they are (right or left – which is NOT based on which hand they write with.)
    • We will cut the stick for you. For beginners we cut the stick at the nose (standing in shoes).
    • And we will tape it up for you:
      • Sticks need a knob at the top for stick handling control.
      • And tape on the blade for greater puck control.
  10. Other items you need
    • Mouthguard
    • Towel (to wipe off skate blades)
    • Soakers (terry cloth covers)
      • A must. Cover skate blades with soakers, not plastic guards! The soakers will discourage rust. And will protect your child and his equipment from the sharp blades.
    • Plastic skate guards
      • Some parents prefer to dress their kids at home. If your child is going to walk around in his skates off the ice, he MUST have plastic guards on his blades to protect the edges.
    • Long Underwear
      • Long pants and a long sleeve shirt worn under equipment will keep sweat off the skin and off the equipment.
      • Older players sometimes choose to wear short sleeve shirts and shorts under their equipment but we discourage this. Direct skin contact with equipment may cause rashes and infection. (We've seen it… it's not pretty.)
    • Jock Shorts (Jills for girls)
      • Jock shorts have Velcro tabs to hold up hockey socks (so you don't need a garter). You have the option of buying Jock shorts with a built-in cup or without a built-in cup (buy cup separately).
    • Socks (ordinary socks to cover feet)
      • Some hockey players play without socks, but parents - please start your kids off with socks.
      • Socks will soak up some of the moisture in the boot and will protect your child's skin from direct contact with any bacteria in the boot.
    • Hockey tape
      • To tape on shin guards
      • To retape sticks
  1. How to get dressed (order for dressing)
    1. Socks (for feet)
    2. Long Underwear - cotton or performance wear (eg Under Armor) pants and shirt
    3. Jock Shorts (or Jill) – to hold up hockey socks
    4. Shin pads
    5. Hockey socks (look like leg warmers—cover shin pads not feet)
      • Attach socks to jock shorts (Velcro tabs)
    6. Pants
    7. Skates
    8. Tape shin pads (shin pads have to be securely taped in place – to keep them from sliding)
      • Wind hockey tape (cloth or clear polyester) – not packing tape or duct tape! –around the bend of the knee (on top of socks!)
      • And near the bottom of the shin pads
    9. Shoulder pads (if using)
    10. Elbow pads
    11. Jersey
    12. Helmet, mouthguard, gloves, stick
    13. Huge sigh of relief
  2. Care of equipment – avoid moisture and bacteria
    • It is very important to keep equipment dry. Moisture promotes bacterial growth (bad!) and breaks down equipment.
    • Use long sleeve and long pants underwear and socks (for feet) to absorb moisture and protect your child's skin from bacteria in the equipment.
    • Special care for skates:
      • Loosen the laces all the way to remove the skate. Don't pull the skate off without loosening the laces — you will damage the tendon guard and weaken the part of the boot that is providing stability and protecting the Achilles tendon.
      • Moisture promotes rust on skate blades (very bad). Keep a towel in the hockey bag and teach your child to wipe off her blades after every use. (And don't forget to store skates with soakers on.
      • Pull the footbed out and stand it up inside the boot to dry. Sweat (moisture) will break down the boot – and promote bacterial growth.
      • And leave the laces as loose as possible. You want to keep the inside of the boot as open (to air dry) as possible.
  3. Used equipment
    • Okay, the following might sound self-serving, since we sell NEW equipment, but it is based on years of experience.
      • Hockey players sweat. And that sweat gets into equipment no matter how carefully one maintains it. If it smells, something is growing in there.
      • Our learn-to-skate package is very inexpensive. Used equipment will cost nearly as much or more if it's high end -- which your child doesn't need.
      • Most importantly, FIT IS IMPORTANT. And if you buy used equipment without having it properly fitted to your child, at best it'll be uncomfortable and make her unhappy; at worst she may get hurt.
  1. Take care of the blades – so you don't have to sharpen as often
    • Be careful off the ice. Never let your child walk on concrete, hard, or dirty surfaces. Tell him to stay on the rubber – but better yet don't let him walk around off the ice at all. If he does walk around off the ice, use plastic guards!
    • Tell her to be careful around the bench too – pipes and grates will harm edges.
    • Discourage rust on the blades:
      • Teach your child to dry blades thoroughly when he takes them off.
      • And then to put soakers (terry cloth covers) on the blades for storage (not the plastic guards!)
  2. How often to sharpen
    • Rule of thumb is roughly after 3-8 hours of ice time or after 4-5 games or sessions.
    • But definitely sharpen your child's skates when your child's edges stop gripping the ice. (No one can skate on a butter knife!)
    • Also, if the edges are damaged – bring them in.
    • When you come in — ask, and we'll show you how to tell the difference between sharp and dull edges.
  3. What should I do about hollow and radius for my child's skates?
    • Ignore "hollow" and "radius" for now. All you need is general sharpening (we typically give beginners a 1/2" hollow) and we don't radius for beginners.

Sharpening – everything you need to know about sharpening and shaping
Sharpening – other questions
  1. Nicked blade
  2. Replacing blades
  3. How often to sharpen / when to sharpen
  4. How often to have skates custom radiused (profiled)
Sharpening for beginners
Sharpening vs. Shaping


  • Refers to the hollow or edges of the blade
  • Why Custom Hollow (which means to choose a specific hollow)?
    • The right hollow can improve your game. Choose the hollow that works with your body type, skating style and position.

Shaping (custom radius)

  • Refers to the sideways shape (profile) of the blade
  • Why Custom Radius?
    • Straight out of the box skates probably don’t have the radius and lie that are best for you. And often the blades don’t even match each other! – and if they don’t, you’ll really struggle on the ice.
  1. Nicked blades
    • Most of the time you won’t notice small nicks when you’re skating. And, 90% of nicks can be fixed when we sharpen. But if you’ve put a serious gouge in your blade you might have to replace it. Bring it in, and let us take a look.
  2. Replacing blades
    • If you sharpen a lot, and you’re old enough that you keep your skates for years, you’ll have to change your blades more often than the person who rarely sharpens. But, skating on sharp edges more than makes up for this. And compared to replacing the entire skate, blades are cheap.
    • If you’re wondering whether or not to replace your blades, bring the skates in – we’ll let you know.
  3. How often to sharpen
    • Rule of thumb is roughly after 3-8 hours of ice time or after 4-5 games or sessions.
    • Be your own judge – you can feel it when your skates aren’t sharp.
  4. How often should I have my skates radiused?
    • Depends on the skater. This ranges from every couple of months to years.
    • Again, be your own judge – you can feel it when your skates aren’t “right” anymore.

Here is the custom team wear section

Here is the equipment care section

Need to add content here about pickup and production time