Haca is a brand based out of Ireland, as you can tell from the brand name being the Irish (Gaelic) for Hockey. They were kind enough to send me their H9 stick with is 90% Carbon and features a full low bow, along with a twisted head and dragflicking groove running down the shaft and onto the face. The stick also features a sand blasted face for better grip on the ball and Octagonal handle for better stability when flicking or hitting, along with more control on the sticks rotation when dribbling.
The stick I have has a nice high balance point somewhere around 38cm up the stick, this gives it a very light feeling head. The stick is also a nice balance between a stiff and a soft feel, which provides good feedback on the ball along with a slightly forgiving first touch. This feel on the ball combined with the light head means the stick is fantastic for fast ball movement while dribbling. You can easily drag the ball left to right using the cupped face and twisted head position to cup the ball on the reverse and drag across then roll over the ball to catch it on your open stick, because of the shaping the face pushes the ball down into the pitch meaning even at high speed its easy to keep the ball flat. When going for a high speed drag from your open stick to your reverse these features can work against you, if you try to do the drag too quickly then it can cause the ball to lift unintentionally, if you do this you will often find that the movement you are trying to put onto the ball will be lost as the ball goes up and your stick will pass under the ball. If you can learn to control this skill then the ability to use the 3D prowess of the stick can be really rewarding but when it happens unintentionally it can be very annoying. Following on from this point, because the head of the stick is so light if you are not strong on the ball and receive a strong tackle it can knock your stick off the ball allowing them to clear it. Because this is a stick designed for flicking its easy to lift the ball when trapping the ball if you do not get your left hand over the ball, this is another skill that can be used to your advantage as well if you can master it allowing you to lift the ball as you receive it away from incoming challenges, or deflecting the ball high towards goal. The stick has a small amount of flex it means that when you receive a difficult pass the stick is more forgiving than some other high carbon sticks, this means that the stick will take a little power off the ball so as long as you have soft hands as you control the pass the ball will stay glued to the stick, this is also aided by the shock reduction grip.
Because of the stiffness the stick generates really good power when you are hitting the ball, the sweet spot when hitting is a nice size and because of the slight flex the stick is very forgiving (for a high carbon stick) if you miss hit the ball. With the head being as light as it was on this test stick it meant that I could generate a lot of swing speed that then transferred to the ball. The octagonal handle gives you a better grip on the stick to prevent the stick from rotating it you catch the ball incorrectly with the hook of the stick, but personally I felt that on a regular miss hit I could feel the vibrations strongest through the corners, I put a BFH Pro Grip by Gribbid on over the top and I think this gave me the best of both worlds as I could still feel the corners of the handle when I gripped the stick but if I miss hit the ball I couldn’t feel the vibrations. As the stick features a low bow, twisted shaft and cupped face, it is very easy to get under the ball and fire the ball into the top corners. I found that the stick pulls up and to the right because of the shaping of the shaft with a straight hits meaning it was easier to find the top right corner then the top left but it was also easy to lift the ball high and wipe of the goal if you didnt compensate correctly.
The stick had similar power when slapping the ball, you can also use the groove to add power to slider passes with ease.
The stick has a fairly thick reverse edge, due to the groove on the top edge of the stick adds a little extra material. This thick edge makes it easy to get a clean connection on the ball, and because of the assembly of the stick the small amount of flex that you get when using the face of the stick is not present when you are using the edge of the stick when you are hitting a tomahawk, when you hit a tomahawk shot you get really good power transferred to the ball. The twisted shaft also helps on tomahawks as it makes it easy to control the height on the tomahawk, if the head is flat to the ground then the ball will lift, if the head is up off the ground then the ball will stay flat. There is obviously a range or angles in between these two endpoints that allow you to pick the height on the reverse shots, but also gives you confidence in firing the ball along the ground to a teammate for a deflection or just a hard pass from your reverse edge.
As you would expect with a stick of this design it is very easy to dragflick with, the low bow and cupped face make it very easy to get under the ball and hold it on the face of the stick. This lets you lift the ball with little effort whether for a shot at goal or for a lifted pass. When you are launching a shot at goal the light head makes whipping through the ball quickly easy to do and so you can add power to normal flicks or just fire off a quick flicked shots with little body movement.
The stick is good for 3D skills with cupped face and twisted head making it super easy to get under the ball for small lifts and movements.
Dragflicking and Aerials
This is what the stick is designed for. The cupped face combined with the low bow makes it very easy to pick up the ball at the initial stage. The cupped face then helps to hold the ball on the head of the stick as you start to drag the ball before guiding the ball up the stick into the groove on the shaft up to the maximum bow point if you want it to. You can then use all this in reverse to accelerate the ball back down the using the groove to guide the ball onto the head of the stick, to then release towards goal. Because of the light head it was very easy to whip through the ball and add even more pace to the flicks right at the end. Because of the twisted shaft you have to concentrate on rotating the head forward and keeping the stick low until after the ball is released if you want to put the ball into the bottom corners or fire a flat pass to the post for a deflection, if you don’t do both of these things it is very easy to cause the ball to lift or bobble making deflections very difficult. I really liked flicking with this stick as the light head meant that I could flick harder without feeling fatigued meaning I could practice for longer periods with it and get more consistent.
The stick works very similarly for overhead passes. You can use the cupped face to pick the ball up easily and whip the ball up into the groove and back down to add power and distance. It will take some practice to get used to the release off the twisted head but because of the light head again you can practice for longer without fatigue. You can easily launch the ball 30+yards down the pitch to a team mate.
This stick is well rounded stick with a definite focus on dragflicking. There are a few things you need to adapt to when you first start using the stick but once you have these under control this stick is really excellent.