Ice Hockey Goalie Gear: A Complete Guide - WILLIES.CO.UK - ICE - INLINE - FIGURE

Ice Hockey Goalie Gear: A Complete Guide

Out of everyone on the ice, a goalie wears the most protective gear in ice hockey — and with pucks flying at you at 100mph, it’s no surprise goalies have the most extensive equipment list!

Our resident goalie expert and store manager, Jonathan, has pulled together all the gear you need to become an elite goalie in ice hockey.

What Does A Goaltender In Ice Hockey Wear?

The most important thing for a goalie in ice hockey is safety. Every part of a goaltender's body should be protected without restricting their range of movement for making those spectacular saves! The main pieces of equipment that a goalie in ice hockey wears are:

  • Goalie ice skates
  • Goalie stick
  • Goalie mask
  • Throat protector
  • Chest and arm protector
  • Gloves and blockers
  • Shorts or pants
  • Leg pads

If you’re looking for a breakdown of the equipment you need to play ice hockey, you can find our guide to ice hockey gear for players right here.

Goalie Ice Skates

The ice skates that a goalie wears are very different to player ice skates, helping goalies to execute rapid, lateral movements in the crease.

While player ice hockey skates cover the ankle, goalie ice skates are cut slightly lower with a shorter tongue to enable you to shift position quickly. The blade radius on a goalie skate is also flat instead of having a heel-to-toe curve, helping you to move post-to-post rapidly.

When finding the right goalie skate size for you, opt for a size down from your regular shoe size to get a snug but not uncomfortable fit; you also don’t want your toes to touch the toe cap. If you’ve never had issues with shoes cramping the sides of your feet, a goalie skate with a D width should suit you; but if you have slightly wider feet, go for an E or EE goalie ice skate. Ankle support is vital in a goalie skate, so it’s crucial to find that perfectly-fitting skate for your foot. 

When you’re ready for mid-to-elite-range Bauer goalie skates which are stiffer and more responsive, you can tailor the fit even further with different options for widths and volumes. Choose from Fit 1 for a narrow width with low volume, Fit 2 for medium width and volume, or Fit 3 for wide width and high volume.

If you’re not sure what size is best for you, visit our Willies store in Coventry! We stock a range of goalie skates from different brands so you can get a feel for what’s most comfortable and supportive for you.

Goalie Stick

goalie stick goes in the blocker hand and is distinguished from a player stick by the widened paddle. Right-handed (also known as ‘regular’) goalies hold the stick and wear the blocker in their right hand, with the catching glove on their left hand. Left-handed goalies (classed as ‘full right’) hold the stick and blocker in their left hand, with the catcher on their right. 

To adapt to this setup, goalie sticks come in both ‘regular’ and ‘full right’ versions and are measured by paddle length. The most common buyer mistake is buying a goalie stick that is too long — your stick massively influences your stance and blocker position, so having a stick that is too long will open up gaps for shooters to score in. 

We recommend that most senior goalies should use a 25” or 26” paddle, with longer paddles reserved for goalies at least 6’ 4 in height. The best way to measure for a goalie stick is when the goalie is in the butterfly, to ensure that your blocker is in the right position. While it does come down to personal preference, your ideal goalie stick length is usually an inch shorter than you think! 

Goalie Mask 

Protecting your most important asset, the goalie mask is a vital bit of kit for goalies in ice hockey. While there are plenty of different masks to choose from, the most crucial factor is that it fits your head correctly — your mask should feel comfortable and stable for your head shape and size. Goalie masks are slightly adjustable using the harness on the back, but these straps are for ‘dialling in’ a fit, not rectifying a poorly fitting mask.

To protect your eyes and face from flying pucks, sticks and the ice itself, goalies must wear a cage on their masks. The classic straight bar cage offers full protection from pucks and sticks but can hinder your vision. We recommend that all new goalies start with a straight bar cage while learning the fundamentals.

Senior, experienced goalies can achieve much better visibility by using a non-certified cat eye cage — although the holes are big enough that a stick can occasionally get through! For this reason, cat eye cages are banned at junior levels, and we don’t recommend them to beginner goalies.

If you’re looking at swapping the cage on your mask, make sure you go for the same brand of the cage as your mask — cages aren’t standardised, so different cages won’t necessarily fit your brand of mask.

Throat Protector

There are two types of throat protection for goalies: the dangler and the neck guard. Both are mandatory at a junior level, and we recommend that seniors also go for both for maximum safety!

The dangler is a piece of lexan plastic that hangs from the goalie mask by skate laces, covering the neck and throat area. They’re a consumable piece of protective kit as they’re designed to break on impact, but they have come in very handy for many goalies. 

Next up is the neck guard (also known as a clavicle protector). This is massively more padded than the player version and sold as a neckpiece or as part of a padded shirt. For some goalies, these can be uncomfortable to wear, but a correctly fitting one becomes normal quite quickly. Our goalie gear maestro Jonathan recommends the Warrior neck guard for maximum comfort. 

Chest And Arm Protector

Your chest and arm protector is vital for coverage in the crease; many goalies like to bulk up this area to leave a less visible net for the shooters. If you choose to do this, it’s vital to get a chesty that fits you perfectly so that you still have a maximum range of movement.

When trying on chest protectors, you’re looking for a snug but comfortable fit, and it should be long enough so that it doesn’t leave any exposed belly or forearm gaps. Your chest protector should also fit well with your mask and throat guard, allowing all bits of kit to move freely without exposing your throat, neck or collarbones.

Choosing a chest protector comes down to personal preference and what style of goaltender you are. Positional goalies that want to get into the right spot and play a blocking style should go for a bulkier protector, whereas a goalie who relies on their athleticism and agility will prefer a lightweight option.

If you’re a goalie that likes to tuck your chest protector into your shorts, you should consider going for a size down — although you will be sacrificing some size by doing this.

Catch Gloves And Blockers

Gloves and blockers are essential bits of kit, and a goalie will hold their blocker in their stick hand and their catcher glove in the other.

Blockers are pretty simple; they’re effectively a solid foam board with a glove on the back, and they do what they say on the tin — they block the puck from entering the net. The key to a good blocker is that it is well-balanced, has a good range of movement and that the goalie gets the ideal amount of rebound for their personal preference.

Gloves are a bit more specific to a goalie’s preference, as they come in various breaks; this is the angle that the glove closes. Breaks come in either 60 degrees, 75 degrees or 90 degrees, and whether you like to close your catcher with your fingers or your full hand will determine which catch glove is best for you. 

If you’re just getting started as a goalie in ice hockey, we recommend going for a 75-degree glove.

Catch gloves also come in either a single-t or a double-t pocket, which you can choose at retail or build into your custom catcher. The double-t pocket is deeper, larger and more stable, and while the single-t web is smaller, it’s better for visibility and knowing for sure whether you’ve caught or covered the puck!

Shorts Or Pants

Your goalie shorts (also called pants) are designed to be reasonably bulky to give you maximum coverage and protection while moving around the crease. 

It’s important that your goalie shorts aren’t too long to interfere with your leg pads and that they integrate well with your chest protector for an unrestricted range of movement. Most goalie shorts come with an internal belt that you can use to tighten them, so the size you need is purely determined by your height, not your waist size.

Like most ice hockey gear for goalies, different shorts are available depending on your preference and playstyle. 

Leg Pads

Designed to protect your legs and block the puck, your pads are an iconic part of your equipment as a goalie. 

Reaching from just above your toe to your thighs, your leg pads cradle the knee to support you during your butterfly saves and help you to cover more of the net. They should fit snugly to your legs but not be uncomfortably tight, and they shouldn’t restrict your knee rotation or movement around the crease. When choosing your leg pads, go for the ones that feel the most comfortable to you.

Extra Goalie Accessories

Now you’ve got the basics; it’s time to accessorise! Pick up these essential goalie accessories to uplevel your performance (and make your life a million times easier).

  • Goalie kit bag: With all your goalie gear, having a sturdy bag to transport it all to the rink is a must.
  • Goalie mask bolts: Keeping your most precious asset safe, it’s always a good idea to keep extra mask hardware around for when you need it most.
  • Stick tape: While players will retape more often, goalie sticks still require taping, so make sure you’re stocked up.
  • Blade covers & guards: Get the most out of your blades by keeping them in pristine condition.

The Best Ice Hockey Gear For Beginner Goalies: Shopping List

When you’re just getting started as a goalie in ice hockey, the equipment list is long — and expensive! Here are our store manager Jonathan’s top picks for beginner goalies to get started:

The Best Ice Hockey Gear For Athletic Goalies: Shopping List

If staying agile is your style in the crease, you need lightweight gear to help you move around as freely as possible. Here are Jonathan’s top gear picks for athletic goalies:

The Best Ice Hockey Gear For Blocking Goalies: Shopping List

Goalies that prefer a blocking style of goaltending need equipment as large as possible to cover as much of the net as they can. Here are Jonathan’s top recommendations: 

Where To Buy Ice Hockey Goalie Equipment

No matter what level you’re at, Willies can get you kitted out with everything you need as a goalie from top brands like Bauer, True and CCM. 

Take a look online to stock up on ice hockey goalie equipment with free delivery on orders over £99, or come and chat with our goalie expert Jonathan at Willies Coventry for his advice and recommendations on the right goalie gear for you.

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