After a successful community initiative brought the coveted “P10” Shanahan pattern to BASE’s pattern collection as the BC14, BASE Hockey is pleased to announce that we’ll be doing the same for Alexei Kovalev’s pro pattern. This unique new curve will be available in both left-handed and right-handed versions for Senior and Intermediate one-piece sticks and tapered replacement blades.
NHL users of this unusual curve have included Ville Leino, Fabian Brunnstrom, and David Perron. Interestingly enough, Perron is a big Alex Kovalev fan, which explains why he’s used different right-handed versions of Kovalev’s pattern for most of his career. With Kovalev, Leino, and Brunnstrom out of the NHL, and with Perron recently switching to a “Backstrom-style” curve similar to the BC92, this sought-after pattern is set to become extinct on the pro stock stick market. Thankfully, we’ll still be able to get our hands on BASE Hockey Kovalev-pattern sticks and blades!
Kovalev himself made some tweaks to this pattern over the course of his career, and the version that BASE will be bringing to retail is the same one Kovalev used in his final years in the NHL as a Florida Panther. Kovalev himself has for a long time trusted BASE to manufacture his standard long-hosel replacement blades, and after using shafts from several different manufacturers throughout his career, he eventually settled on a BASE standard shaft to match. Notably, he used this setup in the 2016 Winter Classic Alumni Game to score a goal for the Canadiens Alumni.
I recently got the chance to try this pattern on a David Perron pro stock stick before its BASE release, so here are my impressions of the pattern.
The Kovalev pattern is definitely very unique. It’s longer than any pattern available at retail (even the BH23 Drury or BC05 Lidstrom), and it has the most extreme rocker I’ve ever seen. As soon as I started stickhandling, I noticed that it felt different from any pattern I’d used before. The combination of blade length and rocker threw me off at first. However, I got used to it quickly, and when I did, I was pleasantly surprised!
A SURPRISINGLY VERSATILE PATTERN
The Kovalev looks so extreme that you wouldn’t think it could be a jack-of-all-trades, but that’s exactly how it feels to me. I can reach for pucks away from my body with the heel of the blade or stickhandle in my feet with the toe without problems. Toe drags are effortless. With a shorter blade, a rocker this aggressive would be a problem, since there wouldn’t be much blade in contact with the ice at any one time. However, because the blade is so long, it mitigates this potential issue by giving you more total surface area. The best way to describe it would be that it feels like you can never ‘run out of blade’ when stickhandling.
The pattern really surprised me when I got to use it in a pick-up game, since I was now getting to pucks I wouldn't usually be able to reach. I use the Perron (right-handed Kovalev) with a relatively long stick, and I favour the heel for stickhandling. I had no trouble stripping pucks from opposing forwards on the backcheck, or catching imperfect passes that would usually zoom right by me. The long, straight blade then helped me fire passes on my teammates' tape or throw sauce over a few sticks and into the slot. For those who prefer a shorter stick (as Kovalev and Perron do), there's no problem - simply cut it shorter and favour the toe for stickhandling.
ANY SHOT, ANY TIME
In terms of shooting, the Kovalev can do it all. The mild toe pocket, combined with the aggressive rocker and considerable length, means I can load the blade easily by bringing the puck in close, raising the heel off the ice, and snapping it off the toe. It would be interesting to see how much more velocity I could get with a more flexible blade, like the Regular (R) or Stiff (S) offered by BASE, since the pro stock stick I was using had a very stiff blade.
Also, because of the slight ‘kink’ in the heel, the Kovalev has a moderate heel wedge before the toe pocket. This allows the user to shoot from pretty much anywhere on the blade while maintaining good velocity and consistency. The slight wedge makes slapshots easy, and the long straight portion between the heel kink and the toe pocket does the same for backhanders. I was able to get good shots off with pretty much any shooting method I tried.
HOW TO GET ONE
If the Kovalev curve sounds interesting to you and you’d like to get a stick or blade with this pattern, get in touch with a BASE Hockey fitter near you. You can also order the Kovalev online as a replacement blade or on a one-piece stick.
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