A few months ago, the manager of our TH Tech department came to us with a new set of spinners for Blackstone - makers of the FBV sharpening system. This new system, which is called the A-Trap, is an innovative system for goalies which gives them a sharper inside edge while keeping a balanced profile across the width of the blade. In the past, it was only possible to get a sharper inside edge by either getting a deeper traditional hollow, or by offsetting the inside edge of the blade to be higher than the outside edge. The new A-Trap, we were told, would be a great balance between the two previous options and we were excited to give it a try on our own skates.
The way that the A-Trap works is simple. Similar to the Flat Bottom V (FBV), the sharpening "spinners" are designed so that the inside edge is cut more steeply, and the outside edge is cut more shallow. To accomplish this on both the right and left skates, separate spinners are needed for each skate and the wheel needs to be re-dressed after each skate is sharpened. With this in mind, plan on the sharpening taking a few extra minutes when you give it a try on your own goalie skates.
For our initial testing purposes, we used the 1/2" inside, 5/8" outside setup. The A-Trap is also available in a 3/8" inside, 5/8" outside setup, for both the 3mm and 4mm blade widths. When getting the A-Trap on your skates, make sure that you know the blade width so that your skates can be sharpened properly.
TIP: Unless you have purposely changed your cowlings or runners, the only goalie skates (as of this blog post) that come with a 3mm runner are the Bauer One100 and the Bauer Pro goalie skates.
On The Ice:
As you'd expect after seeing the profile diagram above, you'll notice some serious bite when you first hit the ice. The inside edge grabs the ice well in all situations - lateral pushes from both standing and butterfly positions, forward strides, c-cuts, and more. A few of our testers commented that they felt that the inside edge bite was better than the traditional 1/2" hollow cut, and that they had more than enough bite to execute any movement.
As you'll also probably expect after seeing the diagram above, the outside edge has considerably less bite than traditional sharpening aficionados will be used to. The first time our goalies stepped on the ice with the A-Trap, a common comment was that the outside edge seemed significantly less sharp than the inside edge - almost to the point of not feeling much bite at all. Of course, perception isn't reality and we quickly figured out that the outside edge held tightly as we moved around the crease, skated behind the net to stop pucks for our defensemen, etc. Those trying this sharpening for the first time should be aware of this difference and shouldn't think that the sharpening was done incorrectly or that there is something wrong with their blades.
We found the A-Trap to be a great alternative for those who have been using an offset cut in the past, or for those looking to get just a bit more bite from their traditional sharpening. An added benefit that we've found is that the A-Trap sharpening seems to hold it's edge a bit longer than a traditional sharpening does. Personally, I play once per week and typically get my skates sharpened once per month. Since using the A-Trap, I've been able to extend the amount of time between sharpening for an extra week or two. Over the course of a year, this could save goalies a significant amount of money, and it can save some steel as well!
The A-Trap costs the same as a traditional or an FBV sharpening, so it won't cost you anything extra to give it a try. At the time of this post, the 4mm spinners are available at every Total Hockey store, and the 3mm spinners are at a few select stores. Contact your closest store to make sure that they have the spinner that you need for your skates.