After having the new Gnetik Pro II glove on the rink for the last few months, I can safely say the Gnetik line of gloves can be classified under the ‘Legendary’ category. We should expect nothing less from Brian’s Custom Sports who, since 1984, has been producing arguably some of the best gloves on the market.
Many have heard the common phrase of “a blocker is a blocker”, but for a glove it is quite the opposite. Gloves can be one of the biggest gray areas among goalie preferences. After three years of working at the GoalieMonkey Superstore, the most common question I would get is “Which is the best?” While frustrating, the question can lead to only one answer: “Depends on the goalie.” Often I would explain to the customer my preference, followed by some digging to find out the features they prefer in a glove (although may not realize). Here’s my take:
After using a Lefevre 590 break (Available under the brands of Reebok, Koho, and now CCM) for nearly my entire playing career of 15 years, the break and closure had become second nature. With the urge to try something new, two years ago I took the plunge and ordered a custom Gnetik Pro I. Upon arrival of the glove, my perception of the glove market changed forever. After just a single game in the Gnetik Pro, I was astonished how pucks seemed to find the pocket of the glove. My best description is calling it a “black hole for pucks”; they just seem to find it. In the GoalieMonkey Superstore and on GoalieMonkey.com, it was nearly impossible to keep them in stock. The word was out. Brian’s had changed the market in a big way.
With that, you can imagine my excitement when a demo set of the Gnetik Pro II rolled into the office. I was so eager to try the glove that I didn’t even bother grabbing the blocker and pads, those could wait. The glove is what I wanted.
Initial impressions of the glove proved that they had made some relatively drastic changes to the construction of the glove. The external ‘Pro Palm’ from the Gnetik Pro I had been eliminated and this new design was complimented by a tweaked cuff/thumb angle designed to direct pucks into the pocket even more easily. Most notably, the cuff has been extended up towards the thumb more before slanting into the pocket. With the exclusion of the internal palm, additional palm protection has been added internally, designed carefully as to not inhibit closure.
My biggest fear with the Gnetik Pro II was the possibility of the redesigned cuff/thumb angle preventing the inclusion of the large pocket size (due to sizing regulations) and the wide-open feel of the Gnetik I that I had come to love. Those fears were quickly dismissed the first time I had my hand in the glove. It felt the same… yet different. The break angle position remains the same, creasing at exactly where the fingers meet the hand so closure was effortless. A slightly modified thumb angle, I admit a little awkward at first, forces the hand to tilt upward to more of a “fingers up” position while in a natural stance. I found this to be quite helpful in game play as it forces coverage above the shoulder, requiring less effort to move the glove up and in towards the mask. For goalies not thrilled about Brian’s omitting the thumb loop in the Gnetik Pro I, fear not! They have listened to customers and added it back, providing additional control during closure.
Switching gears, internally Brian’s has opted for a full one-piece cuff, as opposed to the ‘faux’ internal cuff break as found on the Gnetik Pro I. This, combined with a redesigned larger cuff, allows for a more solid blocking surface designed to help direct pucks more predictably to the front of the goalie, one of the few adjustments I needed to make originally in switching from the Gnetik I.
Personally? I love it. I have stated to many people before that the one-piece cuff in goal gloves is, in my opinion, one of the greatest improvements to hit goal catchers in the last decade. Why? Well it comes down to rebounds. When a puck hits a two piece cuff, it is more likely to flex the cuff, rebounding in nearly any direction, or even worse, up and over the goalie’s shoulder (Something I have experienced all too many times). With a one piece cuff, as long as the glove is square to the shooter, I find the puck will rebound directly in front of the goalie, making it easy to track and ultimately cover for a whistle.
Taking note from the success of the Gnetik Pro and Subzero II Pro gear, Brian’s continues to use its proprietary X-Static silver lined material throughout the four individual finger stalls in conjunction with their No Slip Grip (NSG) material throughout the palm. What’s fantastic about this combination is the NSG material gets even grippier when wet, giving more control of the glove and keeping it securely on your hand over long ice sessions. After nearly two years of using my Gnetik Pro, the NSG material has strayed slightly from its original suede-like texture, becoming a bit rougher to the touch, however, still retains its excellent grip properties.
Internally, the Gnetik Pro II keeps the same adjustments that made the original so popular. The elastic Velcro strap across the fingers efficiently keeps the glove secure while still allowing for easy maneuverability. One of the more popular features on Brian’s most recent generation of gloves is the floating wrist strap, which allows the glove to be cinched down on the wrist without hindering full range of mobility. For goalies who make it a point to keep their glove square to the shooter at all times, this can be especially helpful.
The last major feature that needs to be addressed is the backhand construction. Gone are the days of wimpy low density foam backhands on gloves. Brian’s has made it a point to make sure you won’t get hurt from skates, sticks, or even stray pucks with a new reinforced HD foam backhand spanning the full length of the goalie’s fingers. This is the same backhand you can see Jaroslav Halak (Islanders), Craig Anderson (Senators), and Eddie Lack (Canucks) using currently in the show. Over the three months I had the glove in my possession, not once did I feel insecure covering pucks in a scrum in the crease or taking a puck off the backhand.
Three months out, the glove proved to be much more than advertised. Yes, maybe I had it a little easier coming from a Gnetik Pro, but I can’t imagine a transition time to get used to the glove taking long for any goalie. In just a short few games, I got it to break in to an incredible “snappy” closure, far easier to close to this day than my 2 year old Gnetik Pro. Any puck that came within a 1 foot radius of the glove was sure to be swallowed up effortlessly by the gaping pocket.
Palm protection was exactly as you would expect from Brian’s; ample enough to stand up strong to any level of shot, yet not so overbearing to the point where closure would be compromised. One thing I was impressed with the most is how solid the glove felt construction wise. Even compared to my Gnetik Pro, the internal materials felt considerably more substantial, negating any play or shifting of the crease or internal foams as many gloves have the ability to do.
And so, today it’s unfortunate that I have to bring the Gnetik Pro II glove back to the office for another lucky goalie to enjoy, but I can assure you I will be ordering one of my own from The Custom Goal Company. While gloves are far from universal from goalie to goalie, I urge you to find one locally for yourself and give it a try as the Gnetik Pro line is proving that it has established itself as a legend among the ranks of the Thief and Beast models.
Excited to get your hands on it? Leave your comments below!