As the last line of defense, it is the goalie’s job to do anything and everything to keep the opposition from putting that puck past the goal line. In today’s fastpaced game, goalie equipment must be as protective as possible while still allowing for quick and athletic movements. In today’s game, the right protection is what prevents broken or jammed fingers and unnecessary bruises. When choosing a blocker, it is important to consider if it provides the proper protection for your inner wrist/thumb as well as your fingers.
- Finger protection: Blockers vary in the amount of finger protection they provide. When looking at the glove part of the blocker, it is important to make sure it provides enough protection. Further more, the index finger is the most vulnerable because of the way goalies hold their sticks (with the index finger pointing straight down the paddle as the other fingers are locked around the shaft of the handle). Because of this, the finger padding is designed to protect the fingers while holding the stick.
- Inside wrist protection: While in the butterfly position, the blocker is often angled to deflect pucks to the corner, thus leaving your wrist open to pucks. Because of this, most blockers feature an inner padded portion that protects the inside of the wrist as well as creating an additional blocking surface.
- Curve: Many blockers vary in the degree of curve. There is a curve at the top of the blocker that helps deflect pucks forward rather than backward into the goal. Some goalies prefer larger curves as opposed to smaller ones. However, with the NHL’s new size limitations, most blocker curves are fairly similar.
- Break: The style and break of a catch glove varies among brands and models. The break is the part of the catch glove that folds closed in order to trap the puck inside. Some goalies prefer a higher break vs. a lower break. Break ultimately comes down to personal preference.
- Curves: Like blockers, gloves often have curves for the same purpose as the blocker: to deflect pucks and ramp them away from you and the goal net. The location of the curve varies on catch gloves. Some curves are found at the bottom of the glove (by your forearm), and others are found at the side (by your thumb). Some gloves have curves at both of these locations. There are a variety of curve options because different goalies hold their gloves in different ways depending on their stance. The type of curve for a catch glove comes down to personal preference.
- Pocket: Most goalies prefer a deep pocket, which is the webbing between the thumb and index finger where the goalie catches pucks. A deeper pocket allows for easier catching control and now comes standard in new catch gloves. Most gloves have a T-pocket or a single pocket.
Additionally, gloves also come with inside straps for extra support on the glove hand. It is important to have an adjustable strap for your wrist inside the glove. Some goalies wear these straps tight, and others wear them loose, but this extra support not only helps keep the glove on your hand but also allows better control when catching and shooting the puck.
Fitting Goalie Blockers & Catch Gloves
The blocker and catch glove provide complete protection for the length of your arm and hand. The blocker is worn on the stick hand. It has a padded leather or synthetic leather palm to hold your stick and a wide solid blocker to deflect shots. The catch glove resembles an oversized first basemen’s mitt with a wrist blocker and is worn on your non-stick hand. Catch gloves have an oversized catching area, a molded one-piece thumb area, and curved palm and individual finger areas.
The cuff of the blocker and catch glove should extend one to two inches over the bottom of the arm protection on your chest and arm pads. Also, most players don’t like gloves that fit so snugly that their fingers feel cramped, so make sure there is a little wiggle room.
Blocker and catch gloves are sold in regular and full right styles. Regular is for right-handed players who use the left hand for the catch glove and the right hand for the blocker and stick. Full Right is for left-handed players who use the right hand for the catch glove and the left hand for the blocker and stick.
Goalie glove size is determined by age and size. There are four available sizes: youth, junior, intermediate, and senior. There should be no more than 1/4″ between the tip of the goalie’s finger and the glove. Any more room will not provide the goaltender with the proper amount of leverage necessary to close and control the glove.