Masks & Throat Protection

Goaltender masks are designed differently but are sized in the same way as player masks. Two designs are available for the wire cage: standard and cat eye.

  • Standard: Standard is the most common choice, providing the goalie with a full wire cage of protection.
  • HECC-certified Cat-Eye: HECC-certified cat-eye masks feature wire bars in the eye cutouts and are legal for all levels of play.
  • PRO Cat-Eye: Cat eye features two eye cutouts in the full wire cage, offering the goalie better vision. Cat eye is only allowed in junior and pro level hockey.

Sizing

When sizing the goalie mask, it should fit snugly against the chin. If the mask is too long, it is possible that the nose and mouth will come in contact with the mask on impact. When the goalie’s mouth is closed, the chin should fit comfortably into the chin cup. To ensure the mask is attached properly to the helmet, follow the specific manufacturer instructions you receive with the goalie mask.

Q&A

Question: My 7-year-old son wants to try goalie full time next year. Does he really need a goalie helmet or can he just use his regular hockey helmet?
Answer:According to USA Hockey, “Goalie helmets are not required at the younger levels but are recommended for players who intend to make this their main position.” So the question is, how serious is your son about playing goalie? On the one hand, a hockey helmet can double as a goalie mask, but a goalie mask cannot double as a hockey helmet. So you could just stick with the hockey helmet. On the other hand, plenty of kids in the 8&U programs do gear up and try out goalie, leaving plenty of goalie masks on the resale market. Plus, junior goalie masks are not very expensive. One way to go is to start out with the hockey helmet and segue to the goalie mask if he really commits to goalie.

Q&A

Question: Do goalies really need throat protection? My daughter says it limits her visibility too much.
Answer: Currently, throat protection is recommended but not required for youth players. Rule 303: Goalkeeper’s Equipment (3) in the 2009–11 Official Rules of Ice Hockey booklet says, “It is compulsory for all goalkeepers to wear helmets and full face masks. Hanging throat/neck laceration protectors are recommended.”
Poke around online for real-world advice from goalies, however, and you’ll rapidly discover a consensus: If you’re going to get hit in the neck with a puck or stick, you’d rather be wearing throat protection than not. Furthermore, the neck is one of the goalie’s most vulnerable body parts, exposed to flying pucks, slashing sticks, and sharp skates. To be safe, wear both a throat collar/bib to protect against skate cuts and a dangler to protect against impact from pucks and sticks. Note that your daughter’s hockey association may very well require neck and/or throat protection. If visibility is an issue, many reviewers recommend a clear shield.