A goaltender mask, referred to a goalie mask, is worn by an ice hockey, inline hockey, and field hockey goaltenders in order to protect them from injury. In 1959, Jacques Plante was the first to create and use a practical mask. It was made of fiberglass that was contoured to his face although it eventually morphed into a helmet/cage combination. However, the single full fiberglass mask is much more popular option due to its safety.
This mask changed the way goaltenders played since it allowed them to drop to their knees to block a shot without the change of a stick, skate, or puck hitting them in the face. Often the goaltenders mask is decorated in a unique way as to make them easily and well-identified. The first time a goaltender mask was used in any application was in 1927 when Elizabeth Graham used it to protect her teeth. In 1930 a leather mask was work by Clint Benedict to protect his broken nose. It wasn’t until Jacques Plante donned the fiberglass mask and went on a long unbeaten streak that it became popular even though it wasn’t without controversy.
After his bravery was questioned the mask soon became the standard although this particular style is no longer used in hockey leagues although its fame continues. It was used by Jason Voorhees in the horror series Friday the 13th and also by Casey Jones in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Franchise. Goalies no longer play without a mask. Andy Brown was the last to play without one in the NHL in 1974.
The face-hugging fiberglass mask has evolved from the original design into the helmet/cage design which was then replaced by the full fiberglass masks by most goalies. Many goalies at lower levels choose the helmet/cage design citing that the plastic is lighter and the opening is wider allowing for better views of the puck.
There is also the fiberglass mask with a cage attached in the middle although it is sometimes made out of carbon fiber. These masks tend to handle hits from hockey pucks at higher speeds. These masks disperse the impact over the helmet/cage combination. There is also the Sportmask Mage RS which resembles the helmet/cage combination but is made like the fiberglass masks. Although masks provide protection from concussions and lacerations they do not guarantee safety from injury.