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Buy the Right Equipment the First Time

In case you have never watched a hockey game let me fill you in: hockey is a contact sport. There is a reason why us goaltenders where so much equipment, we are willingly to step in front of an object flying at us in excess of 80mph+. The equipment a goaltender wears was not designed to protect the goalie from a collision or check from another player. Instead, the equipment was designed to absorb the impact from the puck and reduce rebounds.

All of the technology and manufacturing that goes into making goalie equipment comes at a cost. Outfitting a goaltender can sometimes be as much as four times the amount as it is to get equipment for a forward. Due to the high price tags not every aspiring goalie can afford to purchase the safest equipment and this can lead to injuries. Besides getting injured, not getting the right equipment the first time around will lead to additional costs modifying and upgrading the existing equipment.

Growing up my parents did the best they could buying me equipment. In the beginning I was using a pair of defenseman shoulder pads with an old school catcher’s chest flap underneath. My pants were 15 year old forward pants with no inside leg or hip protection. My skates were quads and I had an old CCM mask as a helmet. Thankfully when I was playing with that equipment the kids were young enough to not be able to fire any rockets. The only injury I received was a broken ring finger from taking a point-blank slapshot in the dead of winter to my glove hand.

As I got older I upgraded to goalie specific equipment, mostly getting it used. Fairly recently I was able to purchase a new set of equipment and I thought I got pretty good stuff. Now that I have been playing in the adult leagues my equipment has failed me a few times leading to some not so pleasant injuries.

Injuries since January 2011:

  • Severe collar bone bruising (three times)
  • Broken tip of pinky finger on glove hand
  • Mild concussion
  • Broken tip of ring finger on glove hand
  • Ulnar nerve compression and contusion near elbow

I’m pretty good at researching, so I was disappointed when my equipment that I thought was good, failed to deliver. The collar bone injuries happened because I only was using a dangler. I quickly went out and got a Maltese hockey GPS combo throat and neck guard. The two broken fingers was due to inadequate protection on the backside of my glove, which I just recently had reinforced. Taking a puck off your head feels like you stuck your head inside a clock tower when it strikes midnight. My mask which was supposed to be good, even for ice hockey did not live up to it’s potential, hence the mild concussion. After that incident I went out and upgraded to a Hackva mask.

Finally, the protection in my elbow area on my chest protector was not strong enough to stop a puck from smashing into my elbow, compressing the ulnar nerve (making my arm numb for a good period and a half), and creating a ton of pain. Since I do not have the money to upgrade my chest protector, yesterday I picked up a padded compression arm sleeve. By turning it slightly to the inside of my elbow, the injured area is now covered and protected better.

This year alone I have upgraded the following:

  • New Mask
  • New neck/throat guard
  • Reinforced backside of glove
  • Added protection for elbows

I’m sure that most goalies out there have gone through the same things that I have. You play with what you got until you either get hurt or can afford an upgrade. One thing that I have learned over the years is that when it comes to goalie equipment, in general, more money means better protection. If you play at a level where you keep getting hurt but cannot afford a brand new upgrade, there are plenty of retail and online stores where you can get the good equipment used.

For those parents out there with young kids who are constantly growing out of their clothing and equipment, there are schools/teams that sometimes have the parents chip in for the equipment of all players and goalies to reduce the cost. The kids share the equipment and over time the rink has a warehouse of stuff to choose from.

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