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Bauer’s latest, lightest skate scores with Tyler Seguin

Bauer’s Vapor APX skates, worn by Bruin Tyler Seguin, are 12 percent lighter than Bauer’s previous model. Bauer’s Vapor APX skates, worn by Bruin Tyler Seguin, are 12 percent lighter than Bauer’s previous model. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Alli Knothe
Globe Correspondent / June 4, 2011

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The Bruins’ championship run is the first for rookie forward Tyler Seguin, and also the first for the Vapor APX, the newest skate made by Bauer Hockey of New Hampshire.

The $800 skate hit the market in April, and Seguin is the only Bruin to wear a pair. A top draft pick who had an inconsistent season, Seguin became the star in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning when the 19-year-old scored two critical goals.

“Obviously other players have other favorites, but they’re my favorite, and they didn’t hurt me in Game 2 that’s for sure,’’ said Seguin, who has an endorsement deal with Bauer.

The APX is gaining a following among serious hockey players because they are so light. Each skate — boot and blade included — weighs 750 grams or a mere 26 ounces. The skate is 12 percent lighter than the previous version, the Vapor X:60. Boston College, Northeastern University, and Boston University expect to outfit at least half of their men’s hockey teams with the APX next season, ac cording to representatives from each team. Many players in the National Hockey League are also likely to upgrade to the APX.

“Elite players that wear Bauer always wear the latest skate and the best skate,’’ said Bob Stellick, owner of Stellick Marketing Communications Inc., a sports marketing firm in Toronto. “Of that 70 percent or so that wear Bauer, over 90 percent would wear that new skate next year. They gravitate to what’s newest, and what’s newest is generally what’s best.’’

Currently 14 of the 18 Bruins players wear different versions of Bauer’s skates, and 84 percent of all players in the NHL wear them, said Steve Jones, director of global marketing at Bauer. Also, 95 percent of NHL players wear at least one piece of Bauer equipment. Top competitors include Reebok of Canton.

Other than the elite players, Bauer says it has a 45 percent share of the ice hockey industry, though most consumers cannot afford skates this expensive and will buy cheaper versions.

“You have a hard time rationalizing that this is the skate to go with because you can go to the next skate down and get a lot of the same benefits for $600,’’ said Wayne Zwicker, owner of H.A. Zwickers Inc., an independent hockey goods store in Bedford where only 10 pairs of the Vapor APX have been sold since they were released. However, Zwicker noted that, price aside, the APX is one of the top skates on the market today.

The APX boot is created out of “Curv Composite,’’ a Bauer patented material made of lightweight composite fibers, like those found in golf clubs and tennis rackets. The material is formed using a 3D molding process.

“The whole process never existed before,’’ said Craig Desjardins, the general manager of player equipment at Bauer. “We had to create the machine to make the skates. It has big robot arms and looks like something that would be in an auto manufacturer.’’

Bauer Hockey, founded in Kitchener, Ontario, in 1927, has long been a leader in state-of-the-art hockey equipment. The company went public last year on the Toronto Stock Exchange as Bauer Performance Sports and has generated about $300 million in sales over the past 12 months.

The APX may not be the best skate for long. Over the past decade, the hockey industry has come up with a steady flow of innovations, said Stellick. Just two years ago, for example, Bauer decreased the weight of its ice skate blade by 27 percent when it fused steel with aluminum.

“It’s just showing how competitive the market is and how hard all those manufacturers have to work to stay ahead these days,’’ said Stellick.

Alli Knothe can be reached at AKnothe@Globe.com.

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