The last line of defence
On the ice, on the roller rink and on the street, the goaltender is a team's last line of defense. The goalie needs to be well protected if he or she is going to be facing shots up to 100 mph. It's actually hard to believe that years ago goalies used to play the game with thin, shoddy equipment and without hockey masks, but I'm sure most of the old goalies still have scars on their bodies and faces to remind them.
Goalies wear some of the same basic equipment as every other player including hockey skates, hockey pants, socks, jocks, gloves, stick and helmet. However, the goalie's protective gear is manufactured specifically for his or her need for extra protection. Goaltenders also wear extra padding such as goalie leg pads, chest protectors and arm pads, neck protectors, a hockey mask, a blocking glove and a goalie glovesfor catcher mitt. Many goalies will also wear even more goalie accessories under their equipment such as thigh guards, knee pads, toe caps, wrist guards and a hockey throat guard.
It doesn't matter if you are playing ice, inline or street hockey, if you are a goaltender you should make sure that all pieces of your equipment gives you adequate protection. This means that your equipment fits you properly, is well padded and is in good condition. It's imperative for a goaltender to make sure his or her equipment enables them to be flexible, move quickly and that it doesn't restrict their movement in any way.
If you are buying gear for a young goalie make sure it isn't too big. Young goalies will grow, but if the equipment is too big for them it may hinder his or performance and their safety may be placed in jeopardy. In addition, if you are playing ice hockey make sure the goalie equipment is made for ice hockey. It is sometimes hard to tell ball hockey gear from ice hockey equipment and keep in mind that icehockey pucks are hard enough to break bones and cause other major injuries.
Most major hockey manufacturers produce lines of protective hockey gear for goaltenders and there are many companies such as Vaughn, Eddy, Eagle, McKenney, Don Simmons, Mitchell, Miller, Miklin, Jossa, Rey, Gould, Jackson, Battram, Heaton and Brown that specialize in goalie equipment and many of them also make custom equipment.
Goalie equipment has evolved greatly over the years and you will really notice this if you place a photo of Jacques Plante next to one of Martin Brodeur. Some goalies seem to have gone a little too far in modifying their equipment so many leagues, including the NHL, are now regulating the size of most of the goaltending equipment (including the size of sweater). It is recommended that you check out your league's equipment rules before you spend your hard earned cash on equipment that may be ruled illegal.