Don Simmons Custom UL7: First Skate
Had my first skate in the pads last night. I was at first surprised at home different they were from the Sherwoods I had and before getting on the ice I was a little worried I wouldn’t like them it was such a major change. A shock to the system really. I made a diagram to help the following explanation. Thanks to the P4 Goalie pad customizer on Goaliemonkey.com website and Photoshop.
OK now my Sherwoods were a 6 construction. Single break core and single break outer. Very stiff and very stiff foams. I think this attributed to the super fast premature break down of the pad in the side seems at the knee area because I tried to get some sort of s-curve into them. Now the Simmons pads I ordered as a mixture of 2+3. I ordered a single outer break with a double internal break this actually ended up netting me a side profile straight out of the box like 1. Which is perfect and even better than that if I need the flex there for a shallow butterfly the pads can break in some more without loosing a lot of that +2 height like a 4 style pad would.
Now onto the actual performance. First thing that kinda freaked me out was how closed these were and how tight I ended up strapping the and still having them rotate. My legs definitely felt a little warmer on the ice and the combination of the knee area, revoke pro knee and thigh protection and my reebok pants which I always thought were bulky between the legs I really felt boxed in a the knees. This will take a little getting used to but I should never have any squeakers between the legs I was 3 of 4 holes in on most strap and still had perfect rotation but now a little more mobility. My Sherwoods and earlier Bauer Vapors I was at the tip of every strap and honestly could have used more strap. Really the only thing holding me in those pads were the calf and knee lock. On the Ul7s for the first time ever it took me some time fiddling with the straps to get things right. One complaint i have is the lower strap that goes around the boot of the skate in the calf area on my left pad kept hanging up on the ankle of my skate. This caused the pad to sit close to an inch higher and simply just feel funny. Any suggestions short of taping my ankles for fixing that? Strap to tight or to loose maybe?
Another area that felt weird was the knee area on these. These pads are clearly balanced differently than the Sherwoods. My Sherwoods carried all of their weight in the Boot. These seem to carry all of their weight in the knee. I found some muscles i didn’t know I had feeling a little fatigue after the first 90 minutes of my 150 minutes skate. I don’t think this is a negative however I just need to adjust. One of the biggest surprises here with this situation was how soft that landing is. The first time I have ever really been comfortable for so long during and after a skate. Usually i experience some knee discomfort and hip discomfort because I drive my knees down in every butterfly, I try not to be just a flopper.
Rebounds on these were a lot bigger than I thought they would be. Everyone knows the construction these are based off and Simmons themselves say this is a soft supple pad but these were putting pucks just as far out as my Sherwoods on slapshots. The toes and shins had very good rebound control. I had no trouble kicking pucks into the corners or away from the action. The thigh rises however I did have a couple of funny bounces but in butterfly really the stick should be taking those thigh rise shots directly. Speaking of butterfly new out of the box these pads were stiffer than i expected and the toe taper is a bit better than on my earlier equipment. I found I felt much more mobile in the UL7s and because of that a little less apt to make a blocking butterfly style save and more of an active save. However in butterfly the pads seal just find, I found sliding tobe just as easy as any other pad I have owned. Recover seemed a little easier and with those big one piece knee blocks I felt a little more stable and taller. I also felt I had a better wide stance, saw lots of breakaways last night and I usually try to widen my stance as much as possible in certain situations and I was noticing I was definitely wider and still having enough edge to move laterally.
Overall the first skate I say it’s a good solid pad. Especially for the price. Nothing ground breaking and they are definitely not doing anything to make me perform better, but I believe I have reached the point where there isn’t going to be any performance increase from changing my equipment. I think they maybe a little heavier than the Sherwoods and probably some Subzeros with the smart strap but the weight really isn’t much and I’m a do agree with them being called Ultra Light. I am beyond happy with them. I played very well last night for the first skate in a brand new not even “carpet fly’d” pad. I’m still a little in shock at the just pure comfort level of these brand new out of the box.