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I was asked by @TheGoalNet to write up a review for my experience with Kenesky. I figured I would do it in three parts, and three separate posts: Decision, commitment, and ordering First impressions 30 day review. So let's get down to business - this post will cover my decision process, why I decided to go with Kenesky, and how the ordering and dreaded wait time has gone. Background: I started playing again about 4 months ago after a 2 year layoff. Balancing family time (newborn daughter), a demanding work schedule (50+ hour work weeks), along with my other commitments became too much of a challenge and I had to decide what to cut. I got the itch one day, found a game I could sub for, and have been playing ever since. We have since added another kid (son) and a change in line of work has reduced my work week to about 30 hours. Along with a better home life balance, my new role also allows me a bit of play money. I've also committed to a Pro's Choice mask(961 clone) with Cipra paint (on the way to him now!) and a pair of True skates (about 2-4 weeks out at this point) in around the same time frame. I am currently playing in CCM Eflex 1s. They are a nice pad, but slightly too big. I went with a 34"+3 but really I should be in a 33"+2. I've since cut these down to about a +2. I am lucky to live near GoalieMonkey in Southern California, so I demoed a couple sets that I was interested in: Eflex 3 I liked the addition of the D30 in the palm of the catch and the finger in the index finger on the blocker. Did not like the pads. The balance point on these felt off. Marginal improvement with slides. I've also noticed a lot of these on the secondary market - raised a red flag for me. Bauer 1X The skin on the set I demoed was cut and torn in various places. Not impressive for an $1800 pad. I've traditionally been a Koho/Reebok/CCM kind of guy. I've tried Vaughn and Bauer, along with smaller manufacturers like Vortek and Smith (before he went to Warrior) but have always gone back to this kind of pad. I called up Rob Laurie at CustomGoalieOutlet to get his opinion, as he helped me with my last two gear purchases - Koho 588RPMs and Eflex 1s. He dropped the Kenesky name. I was a little shocked at first as I had never heard the name, but started doing some research. He sent me some pictures of Curtis McElhinney's Kenesky set. I've never met Curtis, but if you look at his history with gear in the show, he's a bit of a gearhead like many of us on here (just with tons more talent and athletic ability). When a guy like that who has basically has unfettered access to pro reps and gear samples, you know the stuff has gotta be good! Here are some shots of Curtis' gear that he tried at Leafs camp. Notice the set on the left has a CCM style blocker with a 5500 style glove. I think this is the set he was using in camp. The set on the right is the Kenesky design blocker with a 590 style glove. Obligatory "strapping pic" Notice the Scrivens style strap below the knee, but also notice how Kenesky does the elastic paracord at the toe. Bonus content: Lefevre will do a Scrivens strap by pro request as well. The gear looks amazingly well built - I zoomed in on the stitching a couple times and everything looks solid. There are some sets floating around the KHL and I think some NCAA goalies wearing the stuff as well. Pricing wise, the set ran $1800 give or take with the exchange rate and shipping cost. Rob and I spent a couple hours on the phone across a few weeks to nail down the specs. There was an initial phone call to review options available and I paid my deposit. We had a second phone call a couple weeks later a few weeks before production date to nail down specs and colorways. This is what I ordered. There's a dizzying array of things he can do and I will list my buildout below the pics. For basically every part of the pad, you can specify what you want; it looks like I went mod-crazy, but it's just more Kenesky wanting to build you what you want. It would take basically an entirely new post to outline everything available (and that is probably just a short list of the things Mike at Kensky can do) so I won't do that. Pads: 7.5" boot, 11" shin, 7" knee rolls, 8.5" thigh rise, roughly equivalent to a 33+2" flat knee rolls outside, single break outside, double break pad medium knee stiffness, soft boot break Scrivens strap at knee nash knee block with CCM style strap though knee block with bump, CCM/Price style gutted knee cradle with elastic run to outside of shin wrap wide set calf wraps with velcro elastic for knee block and across back of calf, nash lined shin weave on all sliding surfaces stock bungie toe and inset removable HD foam bridge with inset drilled lace holes (I've been insetting my toe ties since 2010) 4 leather straps, mushroom style removable: 1 at knee block to top of outside calf; 2 at shin, 1 boot strap with elastic strip sewn in middle Glove: one piece front cuff internal finger ridges waxed skate lace pocket reinforced edge to combat finger curl leather wrist strap across back of wrist Blocker: Hand position moved up a smidge Closing. The ordering process has been pretty pleasant. As always, the toughest part is the wait. I happened to order during peak time when everyone is getting their gear. I was told this week we should be going into production this week or next and they will be finished about a week after that. In the meantime, please feel free to ask any questions. I'm going to block off the first two replies in this thread so I can update later with a first impressions write up and a 30 day review.
A few people have asked for my thoughts on the Graf DM1080s, so, here we are. Some preamble: I sustained a pretty nasty high-ankle sprain last April, and really couldn't play any meaningful hockey until mid-January of this year. Attempts to play didn't go well, and it was eventually found that I had also sustained a minor tendon tear in the back of leg/ankle. I had been in a pair of VH skates with Bauer cowling, but was interested in trying the new(ish) Grafs - in my younger, more competitive days, I always wore Graf skates, so I'm familiar with the general feel of them. I knew they'd allow me more mobility with my ankle (a lower, more open boot compated to the more form-fitting VH), though I didn't know if that'd be a positive thing. A pair popped up on GGSU, in what I assumed to be my size, and at an absolute steal of a price. So, I snapped them up. I returned to the ice roughly a month ago, rocking my new Optik setup, and, the Graf DM1080s. Appearance: These skates look GREAT. Black cowling is always a plus, though the previous owner opted for the standard blades instead of the black blades. Oh well. The previous owner had also altered the cowling, giving it the "Carey Price" cut. More on this later. Weight: To be honest, holding both the VH and Graf skates in each hand, I can't really discern much of a weight difference. MISC: The build quality is, as expected, great. The tongue is a super, super thick felt, which is very comfortable. So, some may say it'd be foolish to jump right back in wearing so much new gear, but I'm of the mindset that if you have your fundamentals down, you should be just fine - new equipment should never be an excuse. My immediate impressions were that the Grafs probably ran a half-to-full size large, as I have a bit of extra space around my toes. The front toe box also seems wider - they feel spacious, but not bad. The feel of the 4mm blade is nice - I've been using 3mm on my VHs, and I'm considering switching back. The steel is high quality, and has held it's edge very well. The height of the stock steel is comparable to standard Step Steel, and combined with the cut-out cowling, gives a VERY good attack angle. Each push feels quite solid. The cowling on my left skate failed somewhat spectacularly last weekend. I had to extend a bit to stop a quick, low wrister, which hit the cap and blasted pieces of plastic all over my crease. I was annoyed by this, especially as I was at a one-day tournament that saw me play almost immediately after my first game, and wouldn't have time to inspect the damage. I figured I'd be generally ok, as the toe box construction on Grafs are stated to be double the thickness of other brands - but, I was a bit wrong on this. The impact had cracked the plastic down the bottom of the cowling, allowing the blade to flex and move considerably on pushes. I'm lucky it didn't break during my second game, as I could've injured myself. I can't blame this failure on Graf, as the cowlings had been pretty seriously modified, which was probably the cause. I was able to get the cowling replaced quickly, though I now have a two-tone pair of skates, as I could only get a white cowling on such short notice. I've played one game with the mismatched cowling, and didn't notice any glaring differences between the cut and non-cut skate. I'm happy I've been able to give the Graf DM1080s a solid try. There are aspects of them I prefer to my VH/Bauer setup - the lower pitch of the Graf cowling, and the 4mm steel. The difference in ankle room/support is interesting, but I won't be able to make any real observations on that until I switch back to my VHs for a bit, which may start tonight (if I can get them sharpened). I don't have any real complaints; the sizing issue isn't a big deal. If you get the chance to give the Graf DM1080s a spin, and are familiar with Graf, you'll likely be quite thrilled. If you're like myself, and are looking to try something a bit different, you'll also probably be quite pleased.