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Shark Goalie Wade Flaherty
Sharks Goalie Wade Flaherty wears nearly 50 (22 kg) pounds of equipment every time he takes the ice.

Goalie Gear

It is difficult to talk about the goalie in the game of hockey without talking about his equipment. When you hear an announcer give the the play-by-play during a hockey game, you'll hear expressions like "glove save," "blocker save," and "stick save." You'd almost think the equipment was playing by itself! A goalie's equipment is nearly one- quarter of his body weight! When goalies are out on the ice they are literally covered from head to toe with equipment of one sort or another. When it's your job to stop 100 mile-per-hour slapshots, your equipment is important.

The goalie's stick is primarily used to stop or deflect the puck and most are made out of wood. Most goalies have curved sticks allowing them to "play" or get under the puck and not just stop it. New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Broedeur even scored a goal (an empty net one) in the Devils' first playoff game this season against the Montreal Canadiens.

Kelly Hrudey talks about the goalie stick.
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Kelly Hrudey with goalie stick
The Sharks' Kelly Hrudey demonstrates how the goalie stick is different than the stick used by forwards and defensemen.

Goalie equipment has come a long way over the last few decades. Goalies' pads used to be made of leather, which would absorb water and sweat during the course of the game. Goalies lose weight during the game (up to 7 pounds or 3 kg) so their equipment gained weight. Today's goalie pads are made out of synthetic materials which provide excellent strength and are lighter and less absorbent then their leather counterparts.

Hrudey's Mask
Kelly Hrudey's goalie mask is made out of fiberglass and kevlar--the same material used in bulletproof vests.

Behind the Mask

Perhaps the most personalized piece of equipment on the ice is the goalie's mask. The top goalies in the NHL have one or more personalized and decoratively painted masks. Most masks are made with fiberglass and/or kevlar (the same material used in bulletproof vests). Sharks Goalie Kelly Hrudey uses his helmet for more than protection; he feels that the decorative paintings on the outside provide interest for fans and help promote the game of hockey.

A great deal of time and effort goes into the creation of his goalie mask, besides just painting the outside.The first step is to have a fitting in which a plaster mold of Hrudey's entire head is made. During this process he breathes through two small straws--one stuck in each nostril. This mold is used to create a well-fitting helmet and mask. Over the course of his career, Hrudey has had nearly a dozen of these molds made. It is an unpleasant experience, but compared to being hit in the face with a puck it's a small price to pay.

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