By Randy, Reboot Hockey (Edited by Jack)
This article documents my experience in purchasing a CCM RBZ Stage 2 stick, the subsequent interaction with their customer service department and eventual replacement of the stick (with a different brand of stick which I will get to later).
When it comes to hockey gear, I am like a kid at your favorite gift-giving holiday, only year-round. As my wife will attest, I like to shop for gear, look at gear, read reviews, compare products, and eventually make an informed purchase. An informed purchase is not always a good one, but hey, at least I try to get it right the first time.
After I place an order, I then check the tracking status until the delivery reaches my door. I do this repeatedly to make sure it is on-schedule. One time I even checked the status after I had received my delivery. I still don’t know why I did this, but sure enough it said ‘delivered’.
(Jack’s Note: Randy is ideal for assessing sticks because he does not have the brand-bias that I have, and he buys the high-end models from the respective lines. For Basis of Comparison, I know Randy has recently used the Sher-Wood Nexon 12, the Sher-Wood Rekker 15, the Warrior Covert DT1, the Warrior Widow, and the Easton Stealth RS in addition to the RBZ Stage 2 and the RibCor. He goes through sticks like I go through girlfriends and gloves. Also, Randy ordered the RBZ Stage 2 very shortly after it was released.)
CCM RBZ Stage 2 Overview
The CCM RBZ Stage 2 stick was developed by a collaboration of CCM and Taylor Made and has what they refer to as Power Swing Technology and a new blade that contains “Freak Channels”. Who would not want a stick with Freak Channels? After much consideration I purchased a CCM RBZ Stage 2 from my favorite hockey website and could not wait to try it out. Once I received it, I went to a “Stick n Puck” session at my local rink to give it a try.
RBZ Stage 2 Pros:
- The stick has great balance and did not feel blade-heavy, as thought if might.
- I was immediately impressed with how well I was able to shoot with it. My shot was comparatively harder and more accurate.
- Although it was not the lightest stick I have ever had, it did not have a heavy feel to it.
RBZ Stage 2 Cons:
While I was impressed with the shooting ability, I was not impressed with puck feel. I have used several different brands of sticks, and the RBZ Stage 2 has to the worst in regards to feeling the puck through the blade when stick-handling.
As I mentioned above, the blade itself is described as having Freak Channels that are described as follows:
“The blade is where the most significant advancements occur on this stick. If you thought the puck came off your RBZ™ with high velocity, you’ll probably freak out at how much faster it will be with the RBZ™ Stage 2. What makes it Freakishly Fast? Speedblade 2 has Freak Channels. Instead of using foam in the core, finely tuned channels circulate through the blade in such a way that the coefficient of restitution or C.O.R. is increased by 20% in comparison to the already fast speed channels design of the RBZ™.”
So while these channels may have helped with shooting, the thickness of the blade reduced the ability to feel the puck. The result was several lost pucks while trying to skate with the puck or get around someone.
The stick also did not seem very durable. After just a few games, large portions of the coating and graphics on the stick started flaking off. I play Center, and it did not stand up well to repeated face-offs. I would go back to a face-off circle and there would be flakes of the Stage 2’s coating on the ice from my previous visit. The shaft and blade also got nicked up very quickly.
Randy’s HH Overall Rating: 5.0
At this point it was clear that this was not a good purchase for me. The inability to feel the puck, and the fact that the stick looked over year old after only three open-ice sessions and four games did not bode well for keeping this stick.
For the first time in my life I decided to contact an OEM to stress my dissatisfaction and point out what I would consider Quality Control issues. I contacted CCM to see if there was anything they could do for me. Although the Warranty period had expired, I had hoped CCM would do something for me, as I had purchased their top-of-the-line stick and was definitely not a happy customer.
I spoke with a guy who told me to send an email to their Customer Service department and describe the problem. I detailed what I had experienced, focusing mainly on the lack of durability. I included numerous photos that shows the damage that had occurred.
After several days I received a response: they would replace the stick. Awesome! I asked for a grip version this time, as I thought the grip coating may help with the flaking that occurred with the first stick, and they said that would not be a problem. About two weeks later I received a surprise delivery, as they did not advise me of when the replacement would be sent out. I opened the box, and discovered that they had sent me a Reebok RicCor stick. At first I thought this must be some kind of mistake, but then I remembered that CCM is owned by Reebok and both of the brands are owned by Adidas.
Reebok RibCor Overview
I decided to just roll with it and give the RibCor a try. I have never owned a Reebok stick and did not know what to expect. Here is the description of the RibCor from Reebok’s marketing department:
“The process of shooting is pretty simple; first you load up the stick with energy (putting the carbon fibers into tension), then you release the tension and the energy is transferred into the puck; giving it velocity and power. The RibCor Pre-Loaded Fiber Technology helps to speed up this process by pre-loading fibers so power or energy put into the stick is directly translated to the puck. More easily worded, when you shoot, the puck will receive more energy quicker, giving the player a faster and quicker releasing shot than ever before.”
And the blade:
“They made sure the RibCor would be deadly accurate with the introduction of the new SSX blade. They engineered it with a progressively stiffer profile, meaning the blade is stiff in the heel and gets stiffer as you get closer to the toe; making sure the blade stays square to the target and doesn’t open up on big shots. Internally, Reebok also changed up the foam construction to give the RibCor a better puck feel, an improved balance point by about 3 cm as well reducing the weight by about 10 grams compared to last year’s 20k stick.”
I tried the stick and was absolutely amazed at how hard and accurate I was able to shoot. I was able to shoot well with the RBZ, but this stick shoots even better. There is no point in doing Pros and Cons list as at this point I do not have ANY complaints about this stick. I have been using it consistently for over 5 months and it still feels new. The puck feel is amazing, the shooting ability is great and it has proved to be extremely durable. I have used it for an entire season playing center in an adult league as well as numerous Stick n Puck sessions and private skates.
The blade is still very stiff and there has been no drop-off in performance that I usually experience with sticks over time. A friend of mine recently commented on how he thinks my shot has really improved over the past couple months.
(Jack’s Note: Randy asked me to point out specifically how well the blade has held up on the RibCor. We didn’t unwrap his blade because Randy takes longer to do a Tape Job than I do to get to the point, but I did snap a few photos to show what great condition his RibCor is in:
As Randy mentioned earlier, we both play Center, and anyone who plays Center will point out that face-offs generally murder sticks. I’m impressed that his RibCor has held up as well as it has, especially considering the beating it gets put through during games. I saw his RBZ Stage 2 before he sent it back, and Randy is not exaggerating: it literally flaked apart during games. My personal observation is that the RibCor is much more durable than the Stage 2, just based on the fact that the RibCor didn’t spray paint chips like Rip Taylor throwing confetti every time Randy lined up to take a draw. Back to Randy.)
While I have been working hard to continue to improve my game, I have to give at least some of the credit to the RibCor.
Randy’s HH Overall Rating: 9.0
So to summarize, do your homework before you buy. Don’t be afraid to try new products. If you are unhappy with a product, document your experience and communicate it to the manufacturer in a mature, professional manner. They will most likely try to work it out with you, regardless of whether the warranty has expired or not.
Our goal as Reboot Hockey is to assist you with equipment issues. If you have any questions or are experiencing a specific problem, let us know and we will try to help.