Photo Credit: Tim Bates/OJHL Images
When we think of scary goaltender injuries, we tend to think of groin and leg injuries, sometimes of pucks to the throat or head. We don’t often think of the risks associated with cage designs of a goalie mask. The cat-eye cage is illegal at every amateur level of hockey because it lacks certification from the Hockey Equipment Certification Council (HECC) — not, as many people mistakenly think, because the puck can fit through the openings (it can’t), but because the butt-end of a stick can.
Most basic certified cages have a grid pattern layout for the bars on the cage that are designed for maximum vision while also ensuring that sticks and pucks won’t find their way to the goalie’s face. Some companies also now make certified cat eye cages which have an additional bar that ensures that sticks and pucks won’t find their way in but while carrying the general look of a cat-eye cage. With each certified cat-eye cages, manufacturers use different techniques to ensure their cage is up to par so you get varying degrees of visibility and protection. Whether you’re sporting a certified cat-eye or a traditional certified cage the common theme is that all certified models ensure maximum safety as no sticks or pucks can get through.
While often a flashy piece of equipment with team artwork and bright colors, the sole purpose of a mask is to keep the most important part of your body protected. It is important to know the different options when purchasing a mask as the choices can often become confusing an overwhelming. Be sure to conduct proper research on type, fit, construction and certification requirements when purchasing a new goalie mask. The safest way to find a legal mask is to look for a valid CSA and HECC certification sticker on the mask and helmet.
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