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The goalie mask is probably the most important item of protective gear a goalie has. Pucks that hit other parts of your body can break bones and cause serious injury. A puck to the face or head can kill you. What is simply refered to as a mask, is actually made up of two components, the helmet, and the cage.
The most important issue in selecting a mask is proper fit. Style, color, and appearance must be given lower priority than proper fit. The mask should fit snuggly on your head and be adjusted so that it does not move around when you shake your head.
Here is a side view of my NME-7, as well as a rear view of it.
For comparision here is the side view of my Bauer Pro 961 SE Pro 961 SE (Fluery), along with a rear view of it.
The quality and type of impact absorbent material in the helmet liner is also important. If possible, get a mask which has mechanically-attached material, and not glued-in material. Mechanically-attached material can be replaced when it wears, can be removed easily for cleaning, and it's much easier to get your mask custom painted when it has mechanically-attached material Here is a photo of my Bauer NME-7 mask showing the interior, which is mechanically attached. Here is a photo of my Bauer Pro 961 "Fluery style" mask interior. Notice the difference in the depth of the material. It is much softer than the padding in the NME-7. It also has a better, thicker sweatband than the NME-7 sweatband. The sweatbands on both helmets are replaceable. Here are the replacement sweatbands for the 961 which come in a pack of two for $9.00.
CageThe choice of cage type depends to a large degree on whether or not the sanctioning body for your hockey games requires a "certified" cage. There are two types of certified cage: The horizontal and vertical mesh-type(similar to a player cage) and the certified cat's eye. Of the two, the mesh type offers better visibility than the certified cats eye. If you are free to choose any cage, the uncertified cat's eye is the best choice because it provides much better visibility.
Here is a photo of my original mask, the Bauer NME-7 with the uncertfied cat's eye cage. When looking through this cage the two vertical center bars are not visible in your field of view. This allows excellent visibility.
Here is a photo of my new mask, the Bauer Pro 961 SE (Fluery) also with the uncertfied cat's eye cage. This one I had custom painted by Andrew Manning of London, Ontario.
Here are some photos of the completed mask. This is a shot from the front. I switched to a powder-coated white cat's eye cage from the stock silver. This cage has a single center-bar as opposed to the double-bar on the stock cage. This is the left side showing the images of Flyers goalie Ron Hextall after a fight. In the Flyers logo you can see an image of Independence Hall. This is the right side showing Flyer goalie Bernie Parent. In this Flyer logo you can see an image of the Liberty Bell. This is a photo of the stock back plate. The artist misspelled "Nickelback" (and he's Canadian no less) and offered to repaint it but shipping to and from Canada is a time-consuming, expensive process since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) apparently only applies to merchandise coming into the US from Canada and Mexico. If an American sends goods to Canada, the Canadian Customs people charge the recipient import duties and taxes. I also purchased a Defender back plate since it has more paintable area. The artist put an image of the toothless Bobby Clarke grinning and winking while saying "happy" while clutching the Stanley Cup in 1974. However, the back plate is poorly padded, and poorly shaped, in addition to being much too short, leaving too much of the lower head exposed. It will wind up in a display case since I won't risk wearing it. The image of Clarke also looks like a caricature of Clarke and is off-center. I should have purchased the 961 replacement back plate from New Image Goalie Mask in Texas. It is the same size as the stock back plate but has a flatter area ideal for painting. I bought the Defender back plate sight-unseen (since it was dropped shipped to the artist) on the advice of the people at Goalie Monkey who apparently get a cut of sales from Defender Masks.
This mask comes with the mask carrying bag as part of the package.
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