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Now that you learned to protected your head, let’s protect your face! Hockey players are known for missing teeth but you don’t have to. Since we beer leaguers don’t get paid millions of dollars or have free dental we have to protect those chicklets. There are 4 kinds of face protection; cages, bubbles, hybrids and half shields/visors. It’s mostly preference although many leagues may require one or the other.
Cages are metal cages that surround your face. They are generally preferred because they offer the best protection, and they can’t fog up. I’ve heard two different opinions on fit, so I will tell you both and let you decide. One idea says that the chin cup should be touching your chin with the cage able to move back about a ¼ inch into the bracket. That way, in an impact to the cage it can only go back ¼ inch. The other school of thought is that the chin cup should be a little ways away from your chin with the cage tight or very close to the L-bracket. The idea is that the impact is away from your face and can never actually impact your chin. Whichever you decide, its more important that your cage fits. Your chin should be inline with the chin cup. There are many fitting guides like the one below, so you get the right size. A medium cage may not fit a medium helmet for every brand. So definitely check the size guide of your cage. Most helmets are offered as a cage combo, so you don’t even need to worry; and you save a little money too. This shouldn’t need to be said, but you should be able to see out of the cage. If you thought you had the right size cage, but can’t see out of it, that’s not the right cage for you. Make sure you have a clear line of sight between the bars.
Visor/ half shields
Worn by most NHL players, visors give you the best visibility but the worst protection. The clear visor offers no obstructions to your sight other than the occasional fogging. However, pucks and sticks can still get under the visor and cause some problems. Visors are not recommended for beginners as your opponents and teammates may not have total control over their sticks, or the ability to keep shots down. Even the NHL accidents happen. If you do decide to wear a Visor, make sure you wear it properly and use a mouthguard. The top of the visor should be inline with the top of the helmet, a little overlap is okay. The middle should be at least about an inch away from the helmet. The bottom should be in line or slightly below your nose.
Some of you may want to add some flair or look like vintage Ovechkin. They can be useful for bright arenas, or playing outside. The myth is that it helps with concussion symptoms by taking the sharpness out of the light. If you’re experiencing concussion symptoms, you really shouldn’t be playing.
The fish bowl cage, also known as a “bubble”, has the same benefits and total face protection as the metal cage while not having bars in your line of sight. They are susceptible to scratches and fogging as you are constantly breathing on it. Worse so than a visor. Be warned, your teammates may chirp you for looking like a fish. If you grew up with the Mighty Ducks you will definitely want one.
Hybrid shields are pretty rare but still an option. They combine some of the above options. The most popular being a visor with the bottom of a cage. So you can see clearly without having to worry about your chin.
No Face Protection
Some players opt to wear no face protection at all. This is stupid, don’t do it.