As Batman always says, Brace yourselves, for I am actually going to try and write something of value for Pensburgh for the first time.
After reading the link Frank posted about California hockey and then reading about it in Pittsburgh and other cities, I took note of the common theme that we are all aware of, but I thought I would try and help alleviate a little bit, and that is the price of hockey, which of course leads to the hesitation or complete dissuasion of trying hockey at all, especially among kids and their parents who have to foot the bill.
So I looked up some gear and decided to try and help parents move along and feel more comfortable and hopefully they find their way here to see it. I took the same approach as I did when I was buying my hockey gear a few months ago: I have never played it before and I know there is a chance that I won't like it, so don't go spending all of your money or racking up a credit card bill on the crème de la crème of equipment because you may be trying to sell it in a couple of weeks or months.
The stores I used to look up info were hockeyoverstock.com and hockeygiant.com in case you were curious or wanted to take a gander for yourself. Also, I just bounced around in the Junior and Youth sections of these sites and tried to find an average size if it applies, though for the most part specific sizes don't really matter. Finally, if you are a curious party who stumbled upon my ramblings, remember that roller is cheaper equipment wise, so you could always start there, but I like ice, and it's better, so that's what I focused on.
First thing you need is skates, obviously. Understandably, parents may lean more towards the high name brands or what they see a lot of Pros using, and Bauer is definitely in that category, so I found these beauties for $45.99.
Bauer Supreme ONE20 Youth Ice Hockey Skates - 2010
Moving on up the body are shin guards. Considering that young kids don't have a developed and powerful slapshot, you don't have to really worry about their shins and knees getting hit other than them falling on the ice. For $10.99, shin guards are purchased and done.
Itech Techlite 155 Youth Hockey Shin Guards
Let's talk pants. Or shells, as they're called. Depending on how much you would want to protect your kids, the price can go up, but again, kids aren't going to be throwing hip checks or checking in general, so don't worry about it, just the ice. With that in mind, go basic again. For $10.99 you get a shell, and from a high brand name as well.
Easton Synergy 700 Junior Ice Hockey Pant Shell
When it comes to shoulder pads, the preference would be for the parent and how well you want to protect your child, until the child starts to have their own preferences, needs, whatever. I found these for a whopping $8.99, and these aren't even the basic kind of shoulder pads, but it's just a great deal.
Nike Bauer Supreme 30 Youth Hockey Shoulder Pads
When it comes to elbow pads I would think this is the place where you would want more padding and protection because when you fall chances are you're naturally putting your arm out or in somehow. Or maybe that's just me because I'm a horrible faller. Anyway. For $11.99 you can grab these Easton's with reinforced elbow protection.
Easton Stealth S3 Hard Youth Hockey Elbow Pads - 2010
The helmet is and should be your most important piece to consider. These can range from all over the pricing scale, but I think this Reebok helmet for $49.99 is a good pick for your upstart hockey star. Don't forget that it's kids hockey, not a lot of hitting should be going on other than falling on their own. And don't forget the cage, which should be on most helmets now.
RBK 4K Hockey Helmet w/Cage
The hockey stick is your next important and most likely priciest piece, but don't forget that you don't know how long your child will play the game, how how fast they will grow. So it would be okay to start cheap with this one, at least at the level when they are just learning the basics. I found a CCM Vector 2.0 Youth stick for $19.99, but no picture, sorry. This will also depend on the store and what they have in stock at the time, and who knows, you may find a steal for something better and cheaper.
For all other equipment, here's a quick list of what you can find and will need:
Youth Jock: Shock Doctor 210 Youth X-Fit Hockey Supporter with Flex Cup- $14.99
Hockey Socks: CCM Solid color- $8.99
Jersey: Nike Bauer practice jersey- $9.99
Under shirt: Bauer Vapor Core Junior Long Sleeve Hockey Shirt- $22.99
The biggest piece of advice for when buying hockey gear is to always be looking out for sales specials and items on clearance. On-line stores like hockeygiant, hockeymonkey, and hockeyoverstock always have some kind of deal(s) going on and you can really come away like a bandit in the night, you just have to keep your head on a swivel. The items I listed were just suggestions that if my little rugrat wanted to start playing, this is what I would be looking for. And the best thing out of it all: for new equipment the total cost is $215.89.
Remember, that is for new equipment, not including any session or league prices, traveling expenses, and anything else you may want to consider. You can always look around the rinks for kids who have grown and looking to sell their old gear, which you can always do yourself if your child grows or if he/she does not take to the game.
Hope this helped some people, or gave some insight, and didn't show that I was really bored this morning and wasted an hour looking up everything. See you on the ice.