The Different Types of Hockey Facial Protection

Posted by Drake Martin on May 3, 2016
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There are several types of facial protection available to hockey players, but it can be difficult to figure out style is right for you - especially if you are new to the sport. Here is a comparison of the four different types of hockey facial protection.

Visor

The hockey visor has been in the game since the early 1970's after NHL prospect Greg Neeld had his left eye gouged mid-game by a high stick. After having his damaged eye removed by doctors, Neeld and his father redesigned a protective wire cage so he could continue to play. They replaced the wires in front of the eyes with plastic in order to improve visibility.

Nowadays, almost every single player in the NHL wears a visor, and for good reason. It prevents most - but not all - eye injuries from sticks, skates, and pucks, and gives players the most amount of visibility. However, a major downside to wearing a visor is that the jaw and teeth are left totally exposed.

Pros:

  • Excellent visibility
  • Stylish
  • Air flow to keep head cool

Cons:

  • Only protects the eyes and forehead
  • Jaw, teeth, and nose are still vulnerable to injury
  • Can fog up on the bench, temporarily reducing visibility

Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks shows off his hockey smile at the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey, AP Photo.

Wire Cage

The face cage is arguably the most popular form of face protection worn outside of professional leagues. Cages are made from a wide range of materials - aluminum, steel, and titanium to name a few, and come in several colors like silver, white, black, and white/black.

Hockey cages can be considered the most protective because the likelihood of a metal cage breaking from a puck or stick is slim-to-none. However, this protection comes at the price of visibility, as there are thin wires all across the player's face.

Some ice hockey players prefer a white cage because it's harder to lose sight of the black puck. On the other hand, roller hockey players tend to prefer a black cage for because roller hockey pucks are generally bright-colored. Bauer makes a cage with a white inside and a black outside, which is geared towards players who want the look of a black cage, but the "advantage" of a white cage.

Pros:

  • Protects the entire face
  • Wide variety of colors and materials
  • Won't fog up on the bench

Cons:

  • Decreased visibility
  • Not always comfortable
  • Helmet snaps are hard to manage while wearing gloves
  • Some cages are not compatible with all helmet brands

Connor McDavid wears a full protective cage while playing for Team Canada in the 2015 World Juniors Tournament. Photo Credit: Minas Panagiotakis, Getty Images.

Full Shield / Hybrid Shield

The full plastic shield provides the same amount of protection as a wire cage with the improved visibility of a plastic visor. These shields have a large, see-through area in front of the eyes and nose and a vented bottom area in front of the mouth.

Jack Eichel wears a full shield while playing for Boston University. Photo Credit: Winslow Townson, USA TODAY Sports.

The hybrid shield is similar to the full shield, but the vented bottom part is made of metal wire like a cage. Both the full shield and the hybrid shield perform the same, but the hybrid shield would be better suited for a player transitioning from wearing a wire cage to a visor.

Pros:

  • Protects the entire face
  • High visibility
  • Multiple manufacturers and styles

Cons:

  • Can fog up on the bench, temporarily reducing visibility
  • Not always comfortable
  • Helmet snaps are hard to manage while wearing gloves
  • Some shields are not compatible with all helmet brands

Bare Face

Just kidding, not bear face.

Going bare face is one of the riskiest decisions a player can make, especially in recreational hockey. Sure, pucks aren't going to be flying at 100+ mph, but errant pucks and accidental high sticks happen more frequently than most players think.

Pros:

  • Ultimate visibility
  • Makes players look tougher
  • Easy to draw double minor penalties
  • More room for epic facial hair

Cons:

  • Entire face is vulnerable to serious injury
  • Stick blades are attracted to eyeballs, noses, and teeth
  • Pucks are attracted to eyeballs, noses, and teeth
  • Skate blades are attracted to eyeballs, noses, and teeth

Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks is one of the last few players in the NHL to forego facial protection. Photo Credit Trevor Hagan, The Canadian Press.

Now that you know more about the different types of hockey facial protection, you can pick up your new favorite cage, visor, or full shield right here at DiscountHockey.com. Thanks for reading and we'll see you on the ice!

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