As outlined in our Graf 9035 review, Graf is dedicated to providing the best performance-based fit possible within the skate market. Now as it may be, Graf has realized the G9035 Pro goal skate may be a little pricey for some and is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. Knowing that, they have set out to offer the same quality and fit synonymous with the Graf name in a lower, value oriented price point skate.
Enter the G4500 goal skate.
The G4500 is built around a sturdy Teclite Mesh composite quarter. What makes this construction often so desirable is the ability to flex in directions that stiffer high end boots often don’t allow for. Goalies used to a traditional layered synthetic leather construction (i.e. Graf 750, Bauer Supreme 7000) will feel right at home in the G4500. Although the materials are modern, the end result will be akin to an older style, more form-fitting boot.
Taking note from past models such as the Goaler 750, Graf knows what works and what goalie prefer. This is apparent in the inclusion of their traditional AirNet liner. Used for many years on their domestically made player’s skates, the AirNet liner was introduced to the goal skate market in the 750. Known for its extraordinary ability to keep the foot cool while still remaining incredibly durable, the AirNet liner is something for Graf to be proud of. I was impressed how little moisture I found in my skates after an hour and a half on the ice.
Trying to find the perfect medium between fit and performance, Graf has recently experimented with different boot fits to find what goalies are drawn to most when choosing a skate. The G4500 will feature a fit on par with the G7500 and G5500 models, featuring a medium heel width and moderate forefoot combined with the new, wider toecap. For Graf aficionados, this translates to a “Broad Fit Range” with a moderately pronounced heel shape and medium heel instep depth. After working as a customer service representative at the GoalieMonkey Superstore in Santa Ana, Ca for over three years, one thing became apparent; goalies were drawn to the snug Graf “Broad Range Fit”, citing its exceptional response and control out on the ice for nearly every foot type.
On the Ice:
First things first, as with any Graf skates, it is highly recommended to complete the heat molding process as this will unlock a whole new world in terms of fit and performance. Once heated, the skate takes on a life of its own with each layer of material conforming to the player’s foot for a precise fit. Unlike many other value price-point skates, the G4500 is fully heat moldable. Often manufacturers will choose to omit heat moldable materials in favor of a lower price, resulting in a lesser quality skate. I was pleasantly surprised by the fit post-molding. My heel was snugly tucked away in the pocket and the rest of the skate hugged my foot gently. Post-molding, the forefoot was a little snug still, but as I will point out later, has yet to cause any issues on the ice and is no longer noticeable.
Having worn nearly every Graf skate within the last 5 years, my curiosity was peaked with the chance to try out the G4500, as I was unsure how a value-price point skate would perform considering I was used to a much stiffer high-end boot such as the 9035 and 7500.
Stepping out on the ice for the first time, I was pleasantly surprise by the support the boot offered. I took some time in warmups off to the side to practice a few shuffles, t-pushes, and recoveries, getting a feel for the boot and how it would perform under load and in game situations. Each small test I did gave me the reassurance that this boot was not to be taken lightly. It was ready to go. Admittedly, the stiffness was not quite up to par with the like of the G9035 and G7500, but I got a strong sense of being at home, a feel I hadn’t gotten from a skate since wearing my much-loved Goaler 750s; a skate to this day I use as a benchmark for the perfect fit. The boot was stiff enough for substantial support, but forgiving in the ways it needed to be. It was refreshing not feeling locked into a boot like many skates on the market today strive to do.
Throughout the game I felt more and more comfortable with every passing minute on the game clock. T-pushes quickly became second nature and after a slight tweaking of my shuffle form, they became quick and crisp once again.
One slight change that took a little change was the steel profile. As many have noticed, the steel seems to take on a backwards sloping profile, contradictory to the traditional form. In reality, this was a well-designed concept. (As a note, I had previously been using Step Steel Goal for Graf, so the shorter blade height difference was more noticeable for myself.) With the boot taking on a significant forward pitch, the backwards slope of the steel makes up for this difference, leaving the goalie feeling stable on their feet while in their stance.
However, the steel has an added benefit. After the forward pitch of the boot is combined with the backward slope of the steel, extra height is left in the front portion of the steel, giving the goalie a better attack angle on the ice. This comes in handy for every push made out on the ice, transferring more power to the ice for quicker crease movement.
After a handful of on-ice sessions with the skate under my belt, I have grown more and more comfortable with the boot style and cut. As time passes, the G4500 reminds me more and more of my trusty Goaler 750s, something I am grateful Graf has accomplished with this line of skates. The most surprising element of this skate is the value at the price point. Never would I have guessed a value-price point skate could offer such comfort and performance as the 4500.
For the recreational goalie playing a few nights a week, the G4500 presents itself as a skate with quality on par with the vast majority of mid-range skates, priced below many low end skates for one of the best values on our GoalieMonkey.com site right now. Be sure to check them out here!