hockey equipment is made of hard plastic because of its strength and light
weight. Sticks are made of graphite because it is also light, and it is
flexible enough to be bent and "whip" back into position, which
is important for shots. Sometimes it is covered with a thin layer of Kevlar
or fiberglass, but that is to protect the graphite from being chipped by
pucks, skates, and anything else. When the skate blade, which is made of
stainless steel to prevent rusting, goes over the ice, the friction and
the pressure from the weight of the player create a thin layer of water
on which the skate glides.
When players choose equipment, they look at the weight, protection, and
comfort that the piece of equipment may offer. Skates are a major piece
of equipment. With the help of modern materials such as kevlar and carbon
fiber, skates today are much lighter than their earlier counterparts.
It is important to find a skate that fits your foot well. Each company
that produces skates has its own distinctive feel. Most other equipment
is made of hard plastic, Styrofoam, and regular foam arranged in various
ways to absorb large amounts of force upon impact during the course of
play. Pockets of air or gel can be found in many new products to further
help absorb the energy of an impact.
The condition of the ice at a hockey arena is very important to the game.
Chemists have recently discovered that ice is slippery because of molecules
that vibrate vertically, but not horizontally, in the ice. These vibrating
molecules create a slippery surface that is not liquid, though it may
share some of the same characteristics. The best ice to play on is the
coldest ice, which is hard, and allows players and pucks to move easily
across the surface. If the ice is too warm, it will be softer and "slower"
than usual. Deeper divots from skaters and increased friction from the
snow and unfrozen water
produce more friction, making the ice "slow." Between periods
of a hockey game, a zamboni "resurfaces" the ice be taking off
a top thin layer with a sharp blade, and the spraying hot water onto the
ice. This hot water temporarily melts the very surface of the ice and
fills in deeper divots, creating a glassy new finish when it freezes.
Before games, pucks are often stored in freezers or other abnormally
cold places. This is because a colder puck has less energy than a warm
puck because the molocules that make it up do not move as much as the
ones in the warm puck. With less energy, the puck will bounce less on
the ice, making it easier to play with and control.