Recently, I’ve done articles on some important goalie equipment, specifically on pads and masks for us goaltenders. These pieces of equipment are extremely important, as was previously mentioned, but they are also some of the more visually pleasing or iconic parts of a goalie’s set up. But what about the equipment that’s barely seen? Is it arguably less important than the rest of a goalies gear? Some pieces, perhaps, but under those pads are likely one of the most important, and personal pieces of equipment for a goalie. His skates!
It seems odd to talk about skates, I know. Everyone knows what skates are, how they work, what they look like etc. But what about a goaltender’s skates? They aren’t highlighted during the game, in fact, there hidden under pads so that we barely see them, save for camera angles. They aren’t shown on TV being praised for being extremely lightweight, and they are certainly barely seen in general sports stores that carry all equipment. Because of this I think there is a lot of misconceptions and ideas about goalie skates, how they function and how they differ from a player’s skates.
Goalie skates are designed differently from a players skate, mostly for two important reasons; protection and movement. A goaltenders skate has a traditional boot similar to a players boot, but is cut much lower around the ankle, allowing more freedom of movement, and it also tends to be made of a softer material. Similar yet different as well is the very blade of the skate. A goalie skates profile has much more of the blade on the surface of the ice with a much flatter edge than a player. Goalie skates are not ideal for turning, especially not in the style of a player, but are more meant for short and extremely quick cuts, to quickly follow the angles of the puck, as well as grab an edge and different angles allowing goalies to slide and make side-to-side movements in stance. The protection of the skate comes from the outer most layer of the goalie skate, called the “cowling”.
The “cowling” is the outer shell of the skate, typically made of hard plastics and synthetics, it wraps around the entirety of the skate from front to back, covers most of the inner wall and some of the outer wall of the skate. (Due to the movements of goalies, the inner face of the foot see’s much more danger than the outside, especially during T-pushes and C-cuts) The “cowling” also serves to attach the blade of the skate, to the boot and hold it in place. This effectively makes the skate and cowling a two piece system that isn’t directly bolted to the boot. In fact the “cowling” on most newer models or high end models of goalie skates is actually removable, replaceable, and even interchangeable.
This is where the customization and personalizing of goalie skates comes into effect, all revolving around these components. Depends on a goalies play style, he may want his boot to feel a certain way, yet the blade and cowling to sit another, or to be shaped differently than what comes stock to his skate. The market is flooded with skates coming from CCM, Bauer, Vaughn, and Graf, so there are many different styles of the components of skates to choose from, especially for professional goalies. There are many goalies that will chose a boot from one company, and a cowling and blade from another. I myself even chose to take this option, and have recently swapped my Graf cowling and blade to that of a Bauer skate. To me it’s all about the comfort. My graf boot is incredibly comfortable and I refuse to switch, yet the cowling and blade had significant wear, and needed replacing.
For some it’s about the look, some for the comfort, some the cut and some the protection, but every goalie has a reason behind the skates he wears, whether they are customized or not. It’s likely that most pros have customized skates that leave no damage done for their feet and provide ultimate comfort, but even for us regular goalies, some of us love our skates and can’t part ways. As I mentioned, my skates are too comfortable to just buy new ones, and I’ve played with many goalies whom have skates that are well out dated but say the same. Some don’t even get them sharpened often as they like a loose edge! Crazy! There are so many good things about goalie skates in this regard, and all us goalies are so different that there’s no way we could all use similar skates and certainly NO WAY could we ever use player skates! (We’ve all seen it done, don’t be that goalie.)
Are you that specific with your skates? Would you customize them if you could, goalie or no? What are your preferences? It’s okay to be a little out there, we’re goalies!
Cover Photo By: Scott Slingsby/InGoalMag.com