If you only know me from the pages of my young adult and middle grade novels, you’re probably well aware that I’m mildly obsessed with sports. From the sweet reflections on a young man’s first baseball mitt in No Sad Songs to an entire series for middle grade readers that revolves around an English teacher turned professional wrestler, there’s rarely an opportunity missed for me to turn some microscopic fact of life into an overarching sports analogy. I guess I’m just one of those guys who sees real life playing out in all the arenas and stadiums and field houses in the land.
The truth is, sports have always played a major role in my life. I started playing in organized baseball leagues when I was three years old and didn’t officially hang up the spikes until I was thirty eight years old–about three years ago. AND I only did so to resume my love affair with another sport I hadn’t played in almost twenty years. That sport, my friends, is the only one played on a literal sheet of ice with a pair of quarter-inch, steel blades underfoot, and if you don’t know I’m talking about ice hockey you need to get yourself to the nearest Tim Hortons for a cup of Joe, some glazed donuts, and the Monday morning hockey chatter.
My ice hockey story begins way back on the mean streets of Laurel Springs, NJ where a municipal street hockey rink was built and then immediately co-opted by the neighborhood rabble–myself proudly included–as a roller hockey rink. It’s where I played my first real games of hockey, where I spent most of my free time after school and coincidentally, where I snaked my first cigarette (which is another story altogether).
The point is, hockey taught me everything I needed to know about being tough, about being resilient, and about being frugal. That last one might not make a whole lot of sense to you, but once I joined a real ice hockey team (I played for my high school), the exorbitant cost of both equipment and ice time started to become a harsh reality.
Flash forward twenty-some years and I’m back in the shoulder pads and shinnies again, this time for a local band of ruffians in the most stereotypical of all possible beer leagues and, boy, am I remembering how much I missed being part of an ice hockey club. And yet, not much has changed in terms of cost, especially when it comes to finding a reasonably-priced stick that doesn’t feel like a hollowed-out freaking reed.
I’ve searched high and low, folks. I’ve spent massive amounts of dough on sticks that splintered on the first slap shot, and scant amounts of cash on butcher’s seconds (aka, what I call the stick my grandmother wouldn’t even use if she knew how to skate). But folks, I finally found a winner. I finally found a stick that won’t break your bank but also has the feel of something made to specification for the professional player.
The stick is the Jealousy model by The Hockey Arsenal. The Hockey Arsenal is a brand spanking new stick company based in Minnesota, and if you don’t know much about ice hockey, at least walk away from this article understanding that anything good and hockey-related in this country probably came straight from the land of ten thousand lakes (which are all frozen over).
The folks at The Hockey Arsenal have pioneered the perfect hockey stick for the amateur player who desires the feel and balance of a professional-grade stick. And they take out all of the guess-work. The Jealousy comes stock at 60 inches (it’s the first stick I didn’t have to cut in my life), with a default blade pattern that mirrors the Tacks Connor McDavid A92 model from CCM (one of the most popular blade patterns of all time). The Jealousy stick is feather light (at least half the weight of a comparable stick from Warrior that I own), and the maneuverability is akin to driving a damn Porsche. Pucks literally explode off the preset 85 flex of this stick to the point where I started feeling like it was simply unfair for me to be armed with the Jealousy while all of my opponents were left out on the ice with their wimpy Bauers and Sherwoods and CCM models. The suckers.
Coming in at a seriously reasonable $179.00, the Arsenal Jealousy is well worth the price tag for its excellent feel, light weight, and explosive power. My only problem with this stick? Freaking Coronavirus. The rinks are closed and all I can do is stare at my barely-used Arsenal Jealousy and dream about the next time I can hit the ice armed with it. #weaponsfortheice
Frank Morelli is the author of the young adult novel, No Sad Songs (2018), a YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominee and winner of an American Fiction Award for best coming of age story. The first book in his debut middle grade series, Please Return To: Norbert M. Finkelstein (2019), is a Book Excellence Award finalist. It provides young readers with a roadmap to end bullying. His fiction and essays have appeared in various publications including The Saturday Evening Post, Cobalt Review, Philadelphia Stories, and Highlights Magazine. Connect with him on Twitter @frankmoewriter and on Instagram @frankmorelliauthor.