Ben Bowns Q&A

02/10/2018

Get to know the Cardiff Devils' netminder Ben Bowns

What was the inspiration for the graphic on your True Custom Bauer pads and blocker?

First off I have to say that these pads were designed by Alex Birch (he also designed my goaltending school logo and my fiancée’s business logo) who created such a good looking setup that I can’t take any credit for it whatsoever.

I believe he got the inspiration from a mix of things. In there you have a mix of Henrik Lundqvist styling, Felix Potvin and an old iconic devils jersey that features the trident. Myself and Richard Day had input to adjust the look but Alex did all the hard work!

Originally they were white and also had the devils logo in the middle and as great as that original design looked I really wanted colour in my pads again so asked him to switch the white for red. I also wanted green in the design somewhere as not only is it devils colours but also the Welsh colours so that was another bit of input that I was adamant that I wanted.

Is it like Christmas being one for the first goalies outside of the NHL/KHL to receive the True Custom pads?

Massively! New pads (especially custom pads) are always better than Christmas for us goalies so to get these true custom graphics was amazing and I think Richard at Puck Stop and Bauer UK did an amazing job in getting Bauer to do them early for me.

You’ve chosen the Vapor strapping on a Supreme 2S Pro pad, how does the Vapor strapping benefit your game?

For me the vapour strapping felt much more stable than the supreme strapping. The Supreme was very ‘busy’ and I felt that I could never quite get the fit I wanted with the 1S pads and then again when I was sent the 2S demo gear.

The Vapor strapping calf strap seems to fit perfect for me and keeps the pad super stable when I’m moving and super smooth when I’m sliding. The Vapor strapping makes the pads feel like they’re a part of me rather than a big pillow strapped to my legs that moves around as I move. I’ve also started wearing the ankle strap again with these pads to limit the minor roll you sometimes get with any pad, but, I wear that strap through the loop on my heel.

Has the high rebound properties of Bauer’s leg pad cores helped you game?

“High rebound properties” is an understatement! The pucks absolutely canon off the Bauer pads. That was one big reason I moved to Bauer. Not only do they slide better than any pad I’ve ever worn/tried but the rebound control you have is out of this world. That’s not to say people will wear these pads and never kick off a bad rebound again in their life, however, they will find that the rebounds become way more predictable and consistent off the pads. Guys always talk about how much harder it is to react to rebounds off the pads or how hard it is to shoot off our back pad for a good rebound as we always kick it right off. One other thing that I’ve never seen mentioned before is that the rebounds always seem to kick up or at an angle which makes it much harder for players, rather than just going flat out along the ice.

Did you get any comments from teammates the first time you used them in practice?

Yeah, they all loved them! Probably got as excited as me which you don’t see much with players and goalie gear usually. We are big believers in choosing the gear that works best for the individual in terms of fit and performance.

What factors made you opt for a CCM Premier II glove?

I personally wasn’t a fan of the 2S glove that I tried last season and felt that the angle and style didn’t quite suit me. I tried the CCM Premier II demo glove and instantly fell in love with it. It’s a much more natural fit for me and gives me awesome control of my stick when playing the puck. In our day, you have to be able to play the puck well so on top of the comfort this was a huge factor that just solidified how I felt about the PII glove.

Over the years you’ve changed your gear in terms of brands and style quite considerably, what was the biggest game changer you have experienced?

I’d say there were 3 big game changers with the Bauers.

1) is obviously how light they are. You don’t realise how big of a factor pad weight is until you switch. For me playing 80 games a year and this year the potential of over 90 then that missing weight resulting in less effort and stress will be huge!

2) The speed of the pads! I am yet to find a pad that slides as fast or as smooth as the Bauer pads. These 2S pads are yet another level in that department with the added stability of the Vapor strapping.

3) The rebound control. I’ll not go into that again here as I’ve already spoken about that above.

Which skates are you using this season?

I’m wearing the True One-Piece goalie skate this year. I used them last year and loved them. They are the comfiest skates I’ve ever had on my feet! I no longer come off the ice after games, trainings or after coaching the kids here in Cardiff and rush to rip my skates off I could literally wear these all day and be absolutely fine.

What benefits do you feel in these?

The comfort as mentioned above and control. I have no idea why but the one-piece just seems to respond faster and better. I’m a big heavy goalie and found the 2 piece skates I wore 2 seasons ago used to flex a little on hard pushes (although I’m guessing that issue will have been fixed by now).

Which sticks will you be using this season?

CCM Premier II. The big factor for me is that they don’t lose their stiffness so the feel stays the same until the stick eventually breaks. Also they are great for playing the puck and give me confidence that I’m going to get a hold of the puck and fire it as I want to all the time.

Do you believe composite sticks have improved in terms of feel and vibration dampening?

Massively…I can remember the TPS Response when that came out and how they used to vibrate on every shot. Even compared to the 1S stick a few years back, the difference and advancement in that area is just crazy. I could never go back to a non-composite stick.

Do you have any game day superstitions?

None. I don’t believe in superstitions and think that if you do they can only harm your game if that superstition doesn’t go as planned. I have routines that stay roughly the same every time I play, obviously my away game routine is different to my home game routine, but that’s all. Routines can be changed or broken and it doesn’t affect you whereas superstitions can’t be changed or broken because they just mess with a goalie’s mindset then.

Who has had the biggest influence on your game?

My parents. They never coached me, never tried coaching me but made sure my attitude was always right and any adversity I came across they taught me how to deal with it and get past it. They taught me that you have two choices every time you come to a block and that’s to give up and go home or get around to and prove everyone wrong. Something that as a Brit goalie you never stop doing! It doesn’t matter how many games, tournaments or championships that you win, you’re always seen as a Brit goalie and not as good as an import would be. Goalies like Murphy & Lyle have proved that countless times and I hope that I can continue to do that until I retire too. Now it’s a case of going out, loving what I’m doing for a job and making them proud. I’m sure seeing me win what I’ve won over the past four years here in Cardiff has made all their efforts worthwhile, even if they won’t admit that to me!

Which goalies have the best style?

It depends what you want to see in a goalie. Technical style, then you have to give it to Carey Price, entertainment to watch I’d say Vasilevsky, Lundqvist, Quick.

In the EIHL, Murdy is still the best mover I’ve seen. Carrozzi in Guildford is so calm under pressure, I believe Beskorowany in Belfast will be super calm and smooth too but I’m yet to see him play. As for the more exciting style then Garnett in Nottingham is great, he’s not quite as technical as the mentioned above but competes like hell so makes ridiculous saves, Murphy competes so hard as does Whistle in Sheffield who is a great young goalie and then Owen in Fife is full of athleticism and from what I can remember of him in his first season here was a great goalie to watch but not nice to play against!

Who is your favourite NHL goalie?

Growing up it was Patrick Roy. Since he retired I don’t have a favourite but I just enjoy watching all the different goalies in that league. They’re all obviously so good but all have their different styles. That’s the beauty about goaltending. Not one goaltender in the world plays the same as another, they may play similar but never the same.

Your technique as a goaltender is unique to you and that’s what the best goalie coaches in the world understand. They don’t try to change you but instead fine tune and make your technique work even better for you. Dan Brabon, our goalie coach here in Cardiff, is amazing with that and never tries changing anything. He sticks to fine tuning everything and building on our bases just like they do in the NHL and all the professional leagues around the world.

What’s your favourite pastime outside of Hockey?

Walking the dog is my number one favourite past time. I’m lucky to live in a place where I have 4 beaches within half a mile to a mile of my front door so take him out around them and over the clifftops every day and stop off for a coffee half way through (that’s more because the dog throws a strop if we don’t go to his favourite cafe).

On top of that I do enjoy other little things like flying the drone I have, which I’m new to but absolutely love it and I’ll also go through phases every so often where we’ll play a fair bit of Xbox with some of the other guys over Xbox live in the evenings. 

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Editors note, you can check out more of Bownsy's drone content here.

Photos by Helen Brabon.