Rhinelander High School sophomore goalie Jake Arno faces a shot during RHS boys’ hockey practice Wednesday at the Rhinelander Ice Arena. High school goalies across the country are wearing smaller pads this year as mandated by National Federation of High School State Association guidelines. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
The NFHS implemented new standards for hockey goalie equipment beginning with the 2012-13 season. The standards limit the size of goalie equipment. Here is a look at what has changed.
High school hockey goalies are going to have a little less help this season.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has introduced new regulations, which go into effect this season, that limit the size of the equipment goalies can use.
The theory is the smaller the equipment, the more ground goalies will need to cover, giving a slight advantage to shooters. However, Rhinelander High School's goalies did not seem too concerned.
"I guess goalies are just too good with 12-inch pads," said Jake Arno, a sophomore goalie for the Rhinelander High School boys' hockey team. "I can't say much. 11-inch pads, it's a one-inch difference. I don't think it does much."
Sophie Schmidt, goalie for the Rhinelander/Antigo/Three Lakes girls' hockey team joked, "I've got a pretty good defense, so first they've got to get to me."
One of Schmidt's coaches, Nick English, said he anticipates the pads will have a negligible effect on the game.
"I really think that there are changes every year, whether it's pads or regulations," he said. "You just have to figure out a way to overcome those changes. I really don't anticipate it being a big problem."
The regulations affect the dimensions of leg pads, blocker pads and catching gloves, making each smaller (see chart, at right).
However, Arno and Schmidt both said they were ahead of the curve, switching to pads that meet the new standards last year.
"My thought was I was going to get used to the pads a year beforehand, just so when the regulations came through, it would mean nothing to me," Schmidt said.
So what did they notice with the smaller pads?
"Since I got the 11-inch pads, I haven't noticed much of a difference with my play," Arno said. "Either in butterfly, or sliding post-to-post, I haven't seen much difference."
"They're thinner. The width is different, that's for sure," Schmidt said. "I had some time to work with them, so it wasn't a huge difference. I had to cover a little bit more in the years before."
The stats seem to support their claims. Schmidt had a .878 save percentage as a freshman with the old pads. Last season, with the new pads, she had a .878 save percentage.
Arno said, in a way, the new pads help him, because less material equals less mass. That allows him to move and react a little faster. Schmidt said the smaller pads force her to be more fundamentally sound in the net.
"You have to make sure you are in the right place and your stance is correct," she said. "Before, you could get away with an inch of leeway, because you had an inch more (padding). Now you can't. You have to be on and have to have your pads there."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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