In the early hockey years, goaltenders wore the same gloves as players used. They offered little protection and did not cover much surface area. The goaltender glove as we know it today has its origins in the 1940s when goaltenders started using baseball gloves to more easily stop the puck. Goaltenders then started experimenting with various glove sizes and designs to improve their ability to stop the puck and increase protection. This led to the style of glove that is used today.
Basket or Pocket: The portion of the glove used to trap the puck. It consists of a layer of rigid material (usually plastic covered with leather) forming a T and joined to the glove using webbing to form a flexible pocket. The shape of the pocket varies from glove to glove with some manufacturers using multiple rigid sections in the pocket.
Palm: The palm of the glove is the main portion of the glove which covers the palm of the hand. It is composed of a rigid plastic covered with leather as well as padding to cusion shots. The palm also features a break to allow the glove to close.
Cuff: The cuff is a rigid portion of the glove used to protect the wrist. It is composed of a rigid plastic covered in leather with very thick padding.
Back: The back of the glove is the portion that wraps behind the hand. It has very little padding as it is normally not used to stop pucks unless the goaltender is out of position. It does offer some protection from skates or slashes.
Sizing and fit
Unlike goaltender pads, there is no real sizing choice when buying a goalie glove. The size of the glove is determined by the age (size) of the goaltender. Manufacturers usually have sizes based on age -> Youth (5-8), Junior (9-12) , Intermediate (13-16) and Senior (17+) gloves. It is therefore relatively easy to determine which glove is the right one for you. The age ranges for each size of glove are only an indication and will vary depending on the size of each goaltender.
When you put the glove on, it should be large enough so it does not feel too tight. Your fingers should not touch the end of the channels and you should be able to easily tie the wrist strap around your wrist. Ensure this strap is tight enough so the glove will not come off but not as tight as to cut circulation.
You should also ensure the straps for your pinky finger and thumb are in the correct position (not too far so your fingers cannot fit in them) and you are able to tighten them. These straps will help you open and close the glove and ensure it stays in the proper position relative to your hand. Finally, some gloves have an adjustment to tighten the padding around the back of your hand. This should be tight to allow the glove to better follow your hand movements. In the particular glove I use, there are two adjustment straps for the hand.
Pro vs mid-range
Manufacturers of goaltender equipment usually have a pro-spec glove (same model used by NHL goaltenders) and a less expensive Mid-range senior glove. This glove is meant to be adequate for most goaltenders that do not play at a high or professional level and don't require (and generally can't make use of) that extra bit of performance. I have used both types of gloves playing hockey and I would have to say that most probably won't notice any difference between the two gloves. However if you are playing at high caliber divisions or at a professional level, the mid-range glove just does not cut it. Having compared the goal pads previously, I can also say the mid-range glove does not perform as well when the level of hockey is increased. Keep in mind these are my experiences with the gloves I own and have used. Some of the differences could be attributed to glove design rather than the difference between a pro and mid-range glove. However as they are both from the same manufacturer, the design should be similar.
|Mid-Range glove||Pro Glove|
The main difference between the two gloves is the amount of padding and the quality of the materials. The general construction remains about the same with both gloves having a great fit, similar strapping systems and overall design. I have found that the mid-range glove lacks padding in the break on the palm. In fact, at the break itself and approx 1cm to each side (see picture), there is no padding other than the leather. If shots hit near the break, it can be quite uncomfortable and even painful. The pro glove, has an added strip of plastic and padding that covers the break while keeping flexibility and allows the glove to absorb more of the impact of the puck.
The "T" of the glove pocket is also better on the pro glove. It has a plastic piece integrated to add some rigidity and allow the pocket to stay opened at all times. The mid-range glove "T" is only composed of leather and does not keep its shape as well. Furthermore, the attachment between the base of the "T" and the palm is much more rigid on the pro glove. This ensures the pocket keeps its shape while loose attachment of the mid-range glove can cause the pocket to collapse. This could allow a puck to bounce out of the pocket.
Finally, the quality of the materials is much better in the pro glove versus the mid-range one. The pro glove uses more resistant leather, better padding, plastic inserts that add protection and rigidity and more durable stitching. While the Pro glove has worked flawlessly for years with only some signs of wear, the mid-range glove has had a few issues. The webbing detached in multiple places which required re-threading and re-attachement. The stiching for the padding protecting the back of the hand also ripped through a layer of leather. Although this is mostly cosmetic, there is a possibility that the padding can "flap" around and expose a hole larg enough for a puck to go through and come into contact with the hand.
Preferences and Conclusion
I personally love the TPS bionic glove as it was designed with the help of an orthopedic surgeon to consider ergonomics. When it came out it was quite apart from the others out there and most of the goaltenders I knew thought it was the best glove available. I have stuck with TPS gloves since the bionic as they all have used mostly the same design and feel just as good as the bionic. However with the purchase of TPS by Sher-Wood, I will have to try them all out again and see which glove fits my hand the best!
Gloves are really a personal preference. They are all similar mostly due to the strict regulations for glove sizing. Where it matters is how the glove feels on your hand, where the break is located, how the straps feel, how well you can handle the puck with the glove on. Some prefer deeper pockets, or different angles of the glove palm but fit and feel is what you should look for. To know which one best fits you it is important to try a few gloves, opening and closing your hand to see if the break is in the right spot. Look at the adjustments to see if you can get the glove to have the right feeling. The worst thing is to buy a 500$+ glove that does not break in the proper place, feels awkward and does not protect adequately.