The most frequent requests for Stick Tech Articles have been for a stick dying column and an instruction on stringing a Goalie head. We are right on top of both topics. Next month we will delve into the messy business of stick dying and this month we show our stick doctors out there how to string a goalkeeper's pocket just like one of the best goalies in the nation, Brian Carcatera.
Brian calls his stick the "Magic Wand", but we all know that what makes it magic is the ability of the person that uses it! This pocket is just a very consistent and reliable. Brian knows it will do the same thing every time he does the same fundamental motion. This consistency allows him to be comfortable when cradling the ball on clears, throwing fakes and tossing behind the back outlet passes. In this issue I will walk you through the construction of Brian's "Magic Wand" and then we'll show you some other little tricks for adding channels to your pocket if desired.
The Mesh: When you open up the string packet make sure that you spend some time stretching out the mesh. Take your time and work it until it becomes fairly flexible and looks large enough to fit into the stick. When you first look at the mesh it looks like a thin, tough piece of fabric and doesn't look like the final product. Then fold the mesh over the top of the head so that the first and third rows of holes in the mesh are flush against each other.
The top string: The top string attaching the mesh to the top of the stick is actually a long piece of sidewall string. As seen to the right, after tying off one end loop the string through plastic first then back through the mesh overlapping the sidewall string again. For the first three holes in the top of the goalie stick, you need to alternate holes in the mesh. When you get to the middle three holes skip to every third hole in the mesh, this allows a nice evenly spread mesh across the top of the stick. When you get to the other side, loop it around the mesh and the plastic and follow the sidewall string exactly across in the other direction. When you are finished it should look like the photo below.
The sidewall strings: The sidewalls, while they look tough, are actually pretty easy to put in. Tie off one end at the bottom of the stick, then without touching the holes in the plastic, simply weave in and out of every other hole in the mesh on the way to the top start this weave three holes from the bottom of the mesh. When you get to the top, loop it through the first sidewall hole and around the mesh once. Now you are ready to come back down the stick again. You want to simply loop it through every other hole in the mesh and the sidewall string you already weaved on the way up. After going through every sidewall hole, loop the string around the sidewall string going up and through the hole in the mesh, then go back through the plastic from the outside- in. When you get to the bottom. Simply tie it off at the last available hole in the plastic. The key now is to mirror what you just did on the other side.
The bottom string: Now you need to attach the bottom of the mesh to the stick. Use the last set of holes in the stick found on the throat and weave it through the second to last row of holes at the bottom of the mesh. Then when you are finished simply tie it off in the other hole on the throat.
The beat in: The unique thing with this pocket is that after the sidewalls and bottom are strung, they do not settle and look correct until you beat in some depth of a pocket, simply use your fist or a ball and pound the towards the middle of the stick. In Brian's new eclipse the shape of the head keeps the top of the mesh at the top of the stick very tight and makes the break-in easier and faster than with older goalie sticks. The top is strung tightly and the mesh makes a nice transition from the deep pocket to the stiff top. Therefore the ball feels like its being catapulted out of the new eclipse. It was instantly a favorite with Brian. All that was left to do was put in the shooters to his preference.
The shooters: Keeping up with the simplicity theme of this pocket, the installation of shooting strings is a breeze. Brian uses two normal shooting strings and one hockey lace below them. The first shooter is put in fairly tight, three rows of mesh down from the top. The next one is a little looser and three rows down from the first. Then comes the hockey lace, he puts it two rows below the second normal shooter. By doing so it creates a softer release than with just the two normal shooters, but still has a crisp and consistent release.
Some other mesh goalie stick tricks:
Turning soft mesh to tougher and harder mesh: Syracuse goalie Rob Mulligan uses colored spray paint to add flavor and stiffness to his goalie sticks. He uses blue spray paint on soft goalie mesh to stiffen up the pocket and change the color. The advantage to doing this is that after it dries and hardens if it loosens up you can spray it again, brighten up the colors and stiffen up the pocket. Using fabric dye will also stiffen up the mesh and change the color of the stick, but it is easier to use spray paint on the goalie mesh.
Adding channels: In the past Brian Carcatera has been known to put a teardrop shaped shooting string in his stick in order to channel the ball on the way out. The shape of the mesh pocket in his STX eclipse however channels the ball well and eliminates the need for the teardrop. Hopkins goalie Nick Murtha however uses sidewall string to create channels going from the top to the bottom of the stick in the middle of the pocket. Experiment with channeling and see what you like. They are very easy to put in and take out. Just run them through the mesh wherever you like and tie them off loosely while testing. Tighten the knots if you find one you like.
EASY - This refers mainly to mesh pockets and those for the novice
and first time stringer.
MEDIUM - This refers to sticks such as the six and eight
diamond stringings from August. The designs aren't too tough,
but require some concentration and time.
DIFFICULT - This refers to sticks like THE "Dog Track" in September. These sticks are usually variations from the basic traditional pocket.
ADVANCED - This refers to sticks that take more time and careful attention to string properly. Overall stringing capability and ability to tie more complicated knots are usually needed to string a pocket reading 4 on the String-O-Meter.