Gear Review: Houdini HS Head by Brine Lacrosse

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Company: Brine Lacrosse / Product: Houdini HS HeadPrice: $79.99

The new Brine Houdini HS hearkens back to a day before 3″ throats existed in the college game, back to like 2005 when the Brine E3 was king of the field for both attackmen and midfielders. Created by former Duke standout attackman Ned Crotty–who is notorious for using the Brine Voyce in college and on Team USA–this new offense-driven head is the next in the deep, sudden offset design many attackmen love.

After using the Rabil X for a few weeks now, a head that I believe is carving out the future of head design, it was nice to see that some of the nation’s best players still value the things us attackmen looked for in a head 8 or more years ago. Let’s take a gander, shall we?

Appearance… +7.5

I think doing the Houdini HS review back to back with the Rabil X review is a perfect example of two new heads coming to market that, despite each being created by a high-powered offensive player, clearly reflect different values players have when it comes to the design of their head.

The Houdini has a throwback feel. Where the Rabil has a progressive offset that drops evenly over the bottom 2 inches of the head, the Houdini has a deep, sudden offset that drops off completely in the bottom half-inch of the head, right above the ball stop. It gives the ball that weighted feeling that allows attackmen in particular to really know where the ball sits in their pocket and feel confident throwing fakes and feeds.

As far as aesthetics go, this head comes in a matte finish which looks really dope on the right shaft. I had just received a brand new Epoch Dragonfly E30 shaft that also came in matte black, so for me the pairing was an obvious choice. I have an all white stick in the Rabil/Dragonfly E30 combo, now I have a matte black stick in the Houdini/Dragonfly E30 combo. The sidewall design features two sets of paired beams emanating from the front wall, splitting, and moving toward the back. And to top it all off, Brine garnished this head with the King logo they’ve featured on many of their 2013 products. All in all a very clean look, but in a design Brine has only done twice, first in the E3, then the Voyce, now the Houdini.

Stringing… +7.5

Every once in a while you come across a head that’s seemingly doing everything right, and then you just wish there were one more hole in the sidewall. This is that head for me, but when you consider Ned Crotty’s pocket in relationship to mine, I totally get why.

Crotty rocks a mid to high pocket that doubles up diamonds pretty much right in the middle of the sidewall. Mine doubles down in the lower third for a lower, carrying pocket. The hole I wish I had would be right between the 7th and 8th holes in the sidewall; the 7th I can’t pull my 3rd diamond down far enough, and the 8th pulls it way too far. However, if I was stringing this for Ned, I’d double up earlier and the holes would be right where they need to be for his pocket to bag out where he likes it.

I could use ONE more hole between the 7th and 8th!

I just have a hard time understanding why some heads have only 13 holes (Houdini HS) while some have 19 or more (Rabil X). If we’re not sacrificing structural integrity, why not just Sarah Palin and drill, baby drill?

Stiffness… +10.0

This is a well thought out head in the stiffness department. It is super rigid at the bottom of the head, near the throat. Getting it to wiggle up at the scoop is actually pretty easy, but if you watch how the head bends, it wiggles to about halfway down the head and the bottom is totally still. I imagine this was an important engineering point because the scoop is also flat and wide to make ground balls as easy as possible. This is a shape the Houdini does NOT share with the Rabil X.

A nice flex when it hits the ground to help you with tough GBs.

This Houdini head is stiff when the ball is in your pocket, yet able to move with you when the ball hits the deck. This definitely isn’t a face-off head, but not because it isn’t stiff enough.

Durability… +10.0

Contrary to popular belief, durability doesn’t have a lot to do with stiffness. They’re definitely correlated, but not directly. Reebok makes some of the stiffest heads on the market and (SPOILER ALERT) we have more broken Reebok heads at HQ than any other brand. Durability is about a head’s capacity to maintain its shape over a multiple seasons without warping or breaking. Although I haven’t exactly put the Houdini through the ringer yet, this head is beefy enough to give me a lot of confidence.

A head designed to take a beating from long poles? I’m in.

The specific area on this head that gives me confidence in its durability is the throat. A steep offset used to be a structural red flag in some heads. It was often where plastic broke or stringing holes popped open because companies were having a hard time making the throat stiff enough to counter the additional force a steep offset throat incurred. You can feel the strength of the sidewall design (at least at the bottom) pushing back against applied force. I think this head will go a long way for the attackman who takes care of his stick/pocket.

Value… +10.0

Usually this is where I have to dock points. The heads we get are often the newest and shiniest, which means they’re being marketed heavily and the price reflects it. Yeah, well the Houdini HS is $79.99.

At $79.99, this head is an excellent value for attackmen!

That puts this head well within the reach of the high school attackman trying to step his game up. If you’re having cradling issues, and you’re still using the head your friend gave you to try lacrosse, go to the store and give this one a try. I wouldn’t necessarily say that about heads upwards of $100 because why try something you know you can’t afford? PLUS you can stall balls on the sidewalls nicely, which I’d pay at least an extra $5 for!

Overall… +8.8/10

This is a 10-year-old design concept but much improved and a whole lot prettier. Taking it out made me miss my couple seasons with an E3. This head is perfect for the attackman trying to put his stickwork together with his footwork because the steep offset eliminates some of the simpler cradling mistakes allowing us to focus on how we’re approaching our defenseman one on one.

Trying to work on my Matt Gibson moves before Vegas!

I think this head represents an important stepping stone every attackman should take. When I was in high school, every offensive player tried an E3 at least once. By the time I got to college, half of our attackmen had a Voyce in their bag. I think many of you are going to find this head a welcome addition to Brine’s 2013 line up, especially if you like heads with a matte finish.

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