Hockey 101: Goalie Mask

Hockey-101

Each week we will be taking a look at the rules and regulations of this great game that we call hockey.

The Goalie Mask

Plane HelmetThough the first goaltender mask was a fiberglass fencing mask donned in 1927 by Queen’s University goalie Elizabeth Graham, it was not until 1959 that a netminder wore a mask full-time. On November 1, 1959, in a game between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, Canadiens goaltender Jacque Plante was struck in the face by a shot from Andy Bathgate. Plante had previously worn his mask in practice, but coach Toe Blake refused to permit him to wear it in a game, fearing it would inhibit his vision. After being stitched up, Plante told Blake that he refused to go back out without his mask, and since teams did not have back-up goalies at the time, Plante was allowed to wear the mask.  The last goaltender to play without a mask was Andy Brown, who played his last NHL game in 1974.

TretjakThe goaltender mask evolved further from the original face-hugging fiberglass mask designed by Plante. In the 1970s, a helmet/cage combination became popular, which was popularized by Vladislav Tretiak, the noted Russian goaltender who competed against Canada in the 1972 Summit Series.

Eventually, the mask became entirely fiberglass with a cage attached to the middle. These masks are considered safer since they disperse the impact of the puck better than previous models.

With the available surface area provided by fiberglass masks, goaltenders give their mask distinctive decorations. This tradition started with the earliest masks, notably by Boston Bruins goalkeeper Gerry Cheevers, who was known for drawing stitches on his mask Cheeverswhenever it got hit. These stitches represented where Cheevers would have been cut had he not been wearing his mask.

Extra Credit

  • Jason Voorhees, the main character in the Friday the 13th series of movies, wore a now iconic goalie mask that was molded from a Detroit Red Wings goalie mask.
  • Casey Jones of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise wore a stylized version of the goalie mask.
  • D-Roc the Executioner, the late guitarist of the heavy metal band Body Count would wear a goalie mask as well.
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