History of hockey equipment

Hockey players didn't get the reputation of missing teeth for no reason. As hockey players become stronger and faster, and injuries become more serious, hockey equipment is becoming increasingly lighter and more protective for safer and more skillful play.

Hockey skates are one of the most important pieces of hockey equipment. Some of the first known hockey skates were invented and patented in Nova Scotia in 1866. Hockey skates have undergone hundreds of changes since, including wider blades that skate faster, and lighter, more durable material.

Shoulder pads, leg pads, and chest protectors are all worn by today's hockey players as protective equipment. The first known hockey body protection was borrowed from cricket. In 1890, goalies began wearing cricket leg pads, which protected their knees and their shins. At this time, other players also began wearing shin guards that protected their ankles and their shins.

To protect their hands, hockey players began wearing padded hockey gloves in the early 1900s. Today, hockey gloves are an essential piece of hockey equipment, and goalies wear special larger gloves for catching pucks and for blocking shots.

The next popular protection from hockey pucks and sticks were "hockey knickers." Developed around 1910, hockey knickers were padded shorts with pieces of cane stuffed inside for additional protection. Hockey knickers were worn in conjunction with shin guards and knee pads, which were made of padded leather and strapped on with buckles.

Goalies soon had even more special equipment designed for them, including wider sticks and padded goalie pants that replaced cricket leg pads.

By 1920, elbow pads were being used by some players, and by the 1930s, leather-covered, padded helmets were finally in place, even though they were worn by very few players. In the 1960s, because they valued their heads and teeth, goalies began wearing face masks and neck protectors.

Current ice hockey rules require that a child's hockey equipment includes at least a full face mask, up until college level, when they may choose a half face mask. At the professional level, some players choose to only wear a visor to protect their eyes, although the potential for missing teeth is much greater without the full mask.

With advancements in technology, the history of ice hockey equipment includes many changes which have improved this exciting and aggressive sport.