Ice hockey goaltending equipment

In ice hockey, the goaltender wears specialized goaltending equipment to protect him from the impact of the puck and assist him in making saves.

Most modern goaltending equipment is made from the same basic materials: hydrophobic synthetic leather and nylon on the outside; dense closed-cell foams and plastics inside. Pads were formerly often made out of leather and stuffed with animal hair.

The National Hockey League specifies maximum dimensions of goaltending equipment to prevent goalies from having an unfair advantage. [cite web|author=National Hockey League|year=2006|title=Rule 21 - Goaltender's Equipment|url=http://nhl.com/hockeyu/rulebook/rule21.html|accessdate=2008-09-22] Many other professional and non-professional leagues adhere to equipment size regulations based on International Ice Hockey Federation rules. [cite web|author=International Ice Hockey Federation|year=2006|title=IIHF Rule Book 2006-2010|url=http://www.iihf.com/iihf-home/sport/iihf-rule-book.html|accessdate=2008-09-22]

Blocker

The "blocker" is worn on the hand that holds the stick. It consists of a glove with a rectangular board attached to the backhand side. The board is usually curved up at one end. This flare is designed to help control the deflection and will create a tougher angle on a shot if a goalie uses the shaft-down technique. It can also be called a "waffle", in reference to older models, which were covered with real leather, but had holes cut in the leather to save weight. This gave the blocker a waffle-like appearance. The placement of the palm on the back of the blocker varies though it has been traditionally placed in the middle. Newer models tend to place the palm further to the inside of the glove and cover more of the net. In almost all cases, the goalie wears only one blocker, however, near the end of his career, retired goalie Dan Blackburn played with two after nerve damage rendered him incapable of closing his glove hand.

Trapper

The "trapper", "catcher", or "catch glove" is the glove worn on the free hand. It is similar to a baseball mitt, but it is much more protective and has a deeper pocket. In fact, the first goalie trapper, worn by former Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers goalie Emile Francis in 1948, was a baseball mitt. Common variations among trappers include the pocket angle. If glove is too bulky it will not allow for good stickhandling. Trappers tend to be one of the most cared for pieces of equipment for the goaltender. In order to prevent what is called a "pancake pocket", goalies will often deepen the pocket by strapping objects inside the glove when not in use. Their fit is extremely important as well as the goalie's sense of the pocket and angles of the trapper. This will make transitioning to new pads difficult in some cases besides the usual need to break in the pads. Some people suggest that the size of the trapper should be reduced from its present dimensions, which cannot be justified by the legitimate need to maximize protection.

Chest and arm protector

The chest and arm protector or arm and body pad is designed to protect the chest, shoulders, arms, and collarbone area from the impact of pucks. It is worn under the hockey jersey. This pad has progressively become more and more protective in recent years. In the days of Terry Sawchuk and Ken Dryden it was a much smaller and less protective piece of equipment. In effect they were at times little better than what baseball catchers wear today. Now with the advent of high density foams and higher quality materials such as carbon fiber, chest protectors can be made today that significantly increase the safety and life of modern goalies.

Jock

A goalie jock, which protects the pelvic area, is more protective than a common jockstrap, though it generally uses the same internal plastic cup. The jock is padded to spread an impact over a larger area and rests on the legs, and is more bulky. Many modern Jocks use two cups, one in front of the other, in order to provide more protection.

Instead of a jock, female goalies wear a pelvic protector called a "jill".

Leg pads

Goalies wear special leg pads that descend from cricket pads. The pads are typically 10 to 12 inches (25–30 cm) wide and extend 4 to 8 inches (10–20 cm) above the knee. Leg pads have evolved significantly over the years. Different pad styling accommodate the different styles of playing goal. The traditional leg pad style was designed with the stand up goaltender in mind. A newer design is meant for goalies who play in the butterfly style. The newer pads have built-in knee support that allows the goalie to be higher off of the ice when in the butterfly. These type of pads offer more flexibility, contouring to help in defending the five hole. Typically, they are longer than the traditional style, in order to cover the five hole while the goalie goes down in to the butterfly. In recent years goalies have tended to wear the pads loose, allowing them to use the "power leg" or "butterfly push" - where the goalie can actually slide from one side of the net to another while down in the butterfly.

Mask

The first commonly used goalie masks were made of solid fiberglass with holes for the eyes, nose, mouth, and for ventilation. Today, most goalies don masks made of fiberglass, kevlar, carbon fiber, and other composite materials. Modern masks have a large cutout in the eye and nose area covered by a steel or titanium cage. This mask was developed by goalie Dave Dryden in the early 1980s.

Many goalies are able to be identified by the custom artwork airbrushed on their masks. Some maintain the same theme throughout their career, changing the colors to match their team's colors. Examples include Curtis Joseph's Cujo, Ed Belfour's eagle, Félix Potvin's abstract cat design, or Patrick Lalime's Marvin the Martian. Some goalies have more generic team-specific artwork, while others vary the artwork over the course of their careers.

An alternative to the mask is the helmet and cage combo, which consists of a wire facemask attached to a standard hockey helmet. This became popular during the 1970s since a cage provides better sightlines than a molded fiberglass mask. Its popularity peaked during the 1980s, yet started to decline during the 1990s, as hockey equipment manufacturers discontinued the production of helmets and cages favored by goaltenders. By the turn of the 21st century, only a few professional goalies still wore a helmet/cage combo. Included in this small group are Chris Osgood of the Detroit Red Wings and current unrestricted free agent Dan Cloutier. Dominik Hasek also wore the helmet/cage combo for the duration of his career.

There were two popular helmet/cage combinations used by professionals. The first was the Cooper SK2000 helmet with either the Cooper HM30 cage (currently used by Osgood and Cloutier) or the Cooper HM50 cage (previously used by Hasek). The other was the Jofa 280 Helmet with the 260.51 cage, which was last worn by Arturs Irbe. After Nike acquired Cooper and consolidated it as Nike Bauer, the SK2000 and HM50 were discontinued, while the HM30 was marketed as a field hockey mask (and was discontinued in 2004). Jofa eventually phased out the 280 helmet and its respective cage, but now offer the Jofa 390 helmet and 287 cage for the European market. Jofa has since been purchased by "The Hockey Company" and this helmet is now marketed in Europe only as an RBK 3K. While Osgood continues to use his SK2000 helmets, Hasek used custom helmet/cage combo made by Warwick Mask Company.

The helmet/cage combination inspired the Mage, manufactured by Sportmask, which provides a wire facemask attached to a helmet with a backplate as opposed to being enclosed. Mage users include Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas and Dallas Stars goaltender Tobias Stephan.

Pants

Goalies' protective short pants are similar to the pants forwards and defensemen wear. They have heavy padding in the thigh area with lighter padding in the back and sides covering the back of the thighs, tailbone, buttocks, and waist. These are usually called breezer shorts.

Skates

Goal skates differ from regular hockey skates. The blade is longer, wider, and flatter to provide the goalie with more stability. It is made out of carbon steel rather than stainless steel. The blade is shorter vertically so that the goaltender is lower to the ice. The boot does not have a tendon guard, which is the piece of a regular hockey skate that extends up the back of the ankle to protect the Achilles' tendon. Finally, the boot is inside a rigid cowling to protect the foot from direct impact.

Stick

The special hockey stick goaltenders use has a blade that is approximately 3½ inches (8.9 cm) wide. The lower 25 to 28 inches (63.5–71 cm) of the shaft is widened to provide more blocking surface. This area is called the "paddle". Although traditional goalie sticks were usually made completely of wood, most modern sticks are reinforced with graphite and fiberglass and the paddle and blade are injected with foam to make them lighter. Recently, manufacturers have begun to produce sticks made completely from composite materials, which are more durable.

References


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