Christmas is just a little over one week away, and time is running out to get your holiday shopping done. Fortunately, if you have a relative or friend who is a new hockey player, shopping for them is easy. There is so much useful stuff that hockey players need -- and most of it doesn't cost much. Here is The Hockey Noob's last-minute gift guide for a new hockey player:
A black practice jersey
...and a white one too
Every player should have both a black and a white jersey in their hockey bags at all times. Most hockey classes end with a scrimmage, and sometimes players need to switch sides to balance things out. Also, if they want to play rat hockey, then having jerseys in both colors on-hand is a smart idea. You can find these at any pro shop.
"Miracle" on DVD or Blu-Ray ($15-$20)
Every American who learns to play hockey should know the story of the "Miracle on Ice," where the U.S. Olympic team beat the Soviet Union in 1980. Keep in mind that the U.S. players were college kids, while the Soviets were professionals. In 2004, Disney made a film based on the 1980 team's journey from training camp, to the pivotal showdown against the Soviets, to the gold medal game against Finland. Since "Miracle" was made by Disney, it is pretty easy to find at stores like Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy, as well as online retailers.
An extra base layer
($30-$60 per piece)
A base layer is what a player wears under his or her hockey gear. They wick away sweat, and thus are usually soggy and stinky after each use -- and need to be washed. Every player who hits the ice multiple times per week should have more than one base layer. I used to own only one, and it became a pain to have to wash it immediately after each use, and hope it was dry -- you have to hang dry them -- in time for my next game or lesson. You will have to go to a hockey specialty store, like Gunzo's, Jerry's Hockey Warehouse or Total Hockey, as most pro shops at ice arenas tend to carry only the most basic needs (jerseys, socks, tape, sticks, etc.)
($195 and up)
OK, hockey lessons are expensive, and they aren't exactly something you can put under a Christmas tree. But think of this as the gift that keeps on giving for the next eight to 12 weeks. There are many places in or near Chicago that offer lessons: Johnny's Ice House (downtown Chicago), The Skatium (Skokie), Franklin Park Ice Arena (Franklin Park), Canlan Ice Sports (Romeoville), Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion (Buffalo Grove), Arctic Ice Arena (Orland Park) and Hockey North America (Bensenville) all offer lessons for beginner hockey players. The good news is, you will be able to pay online and don't actually have to go to a store to buy lessons.
A Total Hockey gift card
($5 to whatever amount)
Of course, if you have absolutely no idea what to get your hockey-playing friend or relative, then you could always settle for a Total Hockey gift card, which comes in any amount you choose. That way, they could purchase whatever hockey gear they need the most, and you don't have to figure out their size, or ask any awkward questions about owning black and white practice jerseys.
BONUS: Suggested Stocking Stuffers
Pucks ($2 each)
Hockey tape ($3-4 per roll)
Hockey tape and hockey pucks are two items that players need all the time. Tape gets used up quickly, and pucks are easily and frequently lost. Though these are small and inexpensive, they will always be appreciated.
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