About Ice Hockey Equipment

When hockey was first born, equipment was extremely basic. By basic, we mean, a blade stuck to the bottom of your shoe and a piece of wood cut from a maple tree. Hockey players, back in the day, wore no protection whatsoever, apart from a pair of leather gloves, and this was more to keep a player warm rather than for actual protection. Protection has gradually improved over the years, mainly due to the gradual increase of injury; as a player gets injured, a piece of hockey equipment was innovated to avoid reoccurrence of the injury, from this, each piece of equipment has evolved over time. The technology featured in hockey equipment has become extremely advanced, its sole aim being to maximise performance and agility whilst offering protection and keeping the player dry, cool and comfortable. Players have gradually realised that their performance can be enhanced by the equipment they use.

Today, wearing a helmet may seem like the most obvious of protection, however, this piece of equipment did not properly come into play until 1933. Toronto Maple Leafs player Ace Bailey’s career was ended after a collision with Boston’s Eddie Shore – after this, Shore introduced the hockey helmet by being the first pro player to wear a helmet regularly in the NHL. Helmets were not worn consistently, however, until the 1970’s. Hockey helmets today are offered with either a cage or visor option, or of course with the option of no cage or visor for less practiced players; this is offered at a lower price point. It is important to get the perfect fit when selecting your hockey helmet for maximum protection and a comfortable feel.

Originally, shoulder pads were merely scraps of felt sewn on to a player’s undershirt, this advanced in 1945 to plastic and fibreglass, as players sought after more effective shoulder pad protection. Initially, NHL officials deemed this dangerous, as although player’s were protecting themselves, they were consequently injuring their opponents. Therefore it was made compulsory in 1950-51 for player’s to soften their shoulder pads and protection by covering it in thick fabric; so you can see how shoulder pad’s have developed since then; the core structure remains the same. Shoulder pads today hold the purpose of protecting the chest, ribs, solar plexus, spine and shoulders against checks from other players or that rocketing puck. Ice Locker offer shoulder pads in youth, junior or senior sizing in a range of different brands. We recommend you are properly fitted by our in store professionals to ensure maximum comfort and protection on the ice.

Elbow pads took a similar route to shoulder pads in their evolution. Players originally began protecting their elbows in 1910 with scraps of felt, this then progressed to leather, and eventually to plastic and fibreglass. The main issue with the hardened protection was its danger to other players. Officials announced that protection was turning into an armour and hindering other players. And thus, along with other protection alike, players were required to wear protection such as elbow pads only when covered with soft padding to protect not only themselves, but other players as well. Elbow pads cover the elbow joint and part of the lower and upper arm from rough checks and pucks, they are adjustable and also feature a reinforced elbow cup, all preventing bruises, fractures and other potential injuries.

Shin guards, or hockey player leg pads as we call them here in the UK, offer protection for the shin and also incorporate knee protection, leg pads offer protection for the frontal bones of the lower leg but little to none for the calf. It is essential that your leg pads are fitted correctly as an improper size in leg pad can lead to injuries in the ankle or knee joint, as well as potential injuries from falls or flying pucks. So were did it kick in that protecting that lower leg was so important? It was in 1961 that CCM developed their revolutionary shin ‘guard’ which was made of 12 ply-nylon; the same material used in shrapnel vests during the Korean War. Its core brilliance was that it offered total lightweight protection, meaning it didn’t interfere with a players skating, yet offered maximum protection against skate cuts and other potential injuries.

In 1931, Montreal Maroons player Babe Siebert suffered an injury of a broken thumb. To aid the player, and keep him on the ice, his coach fixed a shoe horn into a glove, and so was born the reinforced fibre thumb. Since then, gone were the days of wearing simple leather gloves with the purpose of only protecting against the cold. Players and coaches alike realised the importance of keeping your hands protected, whilst ensuring maximum wrist movement, breathability and grip. Gloves have evolved to consist of thin leather on the inner hand, and maximum protection and padding on the outer to protect against that flying puck; the reinforced thumbs mentioned earlier, are in place to prevent the thumb from bending backwards.

Ice Locker offer every type of ice hockey protection from peewee players to intermediate and in a range of sizes. Brands such as CCM, Bauer, Warrior, Sherwood, Reebok, Winnwell, Graf and Montreal Hockey are available at low prices for skaters just getting started and also high end prices for those players with their sites set to go pro. Ice Locker offer lots of NHL endorsed products and are always ready and willing to give any support or advise you may need when selecting your hockey equipment. Stay smart, stay protected.