Hockey Equipment - An Important Player in the Game
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Hockey Equipment - An Important Player in the Game
Jan 10, 2002, 15:54
By Kelly Reynolds Staff

Hockey equipment is required for all players who step onto the ice but some differences exist regarding the hockey equipment utilized by the players and the goaltenders. Players’ hockey equipment generally consists of skates, shin pads, gloves, hockey pants, sticks, and helmets. The hockey equipment used by goaltenders tends to offer additional protection and is comprised of a goal stick, goalie pads, glove and blocker, and a mask.

The most important piece of hockey equipment for any player is the skates. In order to maximize performance on the ice a player’s skates should fit as close to the foot as possible. Generally, this means that the skates should be at least one size smaller than your normal shoe size.

Although a quintessential piece of protective hockey equipment, shin pads were not donned by players until the turn of the century. It was at this point in time that the players began emulating the hockey equipment used by the goaltenders and started sewing padding into their game pants. Eventually, as hockey equipment evolved shin pads became the shatterproof plastic components used today.

Gloves as part of a player’s hockey equipment did not exist until 1904 and did not become widely accepted until 1915. Hockey gloves should be a close fit with thin palms in order to maintain a tight grip on the hockey stick. Using gloves as a form of hockey equipment is necessary to protect both the wrists and the hands.

When first introduced as hockey equipment in the 1880’s, hockey pants were similar to those worn in football. Originally worn to the knee and padded, hockey pants were shortened sometime early in the 1900’s. Today most hockey pants have built in hip pads, which are another necessary form of hockey equipment.

A piece of hockey equipment that is chosen according to a player’s skating style is the hockey stick. The most common factors taken into consideration when choosing a hockey stick are weight and blade size. Most players recommend wrapping both the stick handle and the blade with a layer of tape. This is done to assure both a tighter grip on the handle and so that the puck does not slide off of the blade as easy as normal.

Helmets did not become a mandatory part of hockey equipment until the 1979-80 National Hockey League season. However, many players voluntarily chose to implement helmets as part of their hockey equipment in 1968. This decision was reached by many players after Minnesota North Star center Bill Masterson struck his head on the ice during the course of a game and died 48 hours later.

Initially, both the players and the goaltenders used the same type of hockey equipment. The first piece of hockey equipment developed specifically for a goaltender was the goal stick. Starting out with a thick paddle on the bottom used to stop pucks, the goal stick now has a curved blade similar to a player’s hockey stick.

The first goalie pads worn by a goaltender were modeled after pads donned by early cricket players and did not provide much in the way of protection. As goalie pads became an integral part of goaltender hockey equipment they were made out of leather and stuffed with felt, deer hair, or sponge. Because these materials would become saturated with water from the ice and thus became extremely heavy, goalie pads were replaced with synthetic materials in the late 1980’s.

The glove and blocker utililized by goaltenders today is very comparable to the original design. Introduced to the National Hockey League in 1943-44, the glove and blocker resembles a baseball glove with padding and shatterproof plexiglass.

The most important part of a goaltender’s hockey equipment, the mask, was not a required part of the uniform until the late 1970’s. The outer part of the mask should be composed of a strong space-polymer material, and the inside of the mask should contain foam. This design resists impacts while absorbing the shock at the same time.

Although hockey equipment used by goaltenders varies from the hockey equipment used by the players to a certain extent, it all comes down to protection. Each position requires a different amount of protection, and the hockey euipment used today is modified to provide maximum protection while at the same time enhancing performance.

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