The first thing to consider when purchasing a goalie stick is the material from which it is made. If you have read our article on hockey stick materials you will recall some of the materials used and their properties.While having a lighter stick can improve performance for a player who uses his stick often, for a goaltender this is not as much of a factor.
A lighter stick will enable the goaltender to move his blocker hand more rapidly and increase his chance of blocking a shot but in my experience, balance is more important than weight. Balance is dependent on the weight distribution of the stick. The centre of gravity should be located directly at the top of the paddle section where the stick is held. This allows you to move the stick much more easily even if it does weight more than an unbalanced stick. To check for the centre of gravity of the stick hold the stick in a horizontal position with one finger, move your finger along the stick length until it is balanced on both sides. (the position of your finger will indicate the centre of gravity)
You should aim for the centre of gravity to be as close to the junction of teh paddle and the shaft as possible.However, due to the nature of the sticks, the centre of gravity will usually be on the paddle, approx 12-21cm from the junction of the shaft and the paddle. It should be noted that the addition of tape will slightly shift the centre of gravity towards the shaft.
Other than balance, some factors to consider are material durability, flex and vibrations. As was seen in the hockey stick materials article, while carbon is extremely light and stiff, it is also weak during impact loading. A stick which receives numerous impacts should therefore be made of a limited amount of carbon fibre to ensure some durability.
The flex of a player stick is quite important to ensure the strongest shot possible, however for a goaltender, shots are not as important. The goaltender must be able to pass the puck and clear it out of his zone which does not require a high stick stiffness. Furthermore, the stiffer the stick, the more vibrations will be felt when blocking a shot. These vibrations can be uncomfortable and distracting.
If the stick is properly balanced, the weight savings of using carbon and increase of stiffness are not significant when considering the loss of durability. I prefer a stick with a mix of fibreglass and carbon for balance, durability, relatively low stiffness and light weight.