CATS MAY HAVE NINE LIVES but a goaltender only has two eyes. That’s why cat eye goaltending masks are not allowed to be used in USA Hockey sanctioned games.
Cat eye masks are popular among professional goaltenders because the wider, tapered eye hole provides greater visibility compared to the grid-like cage. The eye hole is small enough to keep a puck from passing through, but that says nothing about a stick blade.
It may seem like a one-in-a-million chance that a stick blade will find its way through the iron bars, but there are enough examples of it happening to keep young goaltenders away from using one. USA Hockey requires goaltenders to wear a helmet and mask that has been certified by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council.
Sometimes goalies will try to game the system by keeping two masks in their bags, one with the cat eye mask and the other legal one.
A goaltender found wearing unapproved equipment will be instructed to leave the ice and not return until he or she has an approved helmet and mask. “We’re all about American goalies respecting the rules,” said Steve Thompson, the manager of goaltending for the ADM. “We don’t see forwards coming onto the ice with half shields so we shouldn’t see goalies coming onto the ice trying to sneak a cat eye.”
In recent years, manufacturers have developed a modified cat eye mask, which meets HECC standards. Coaches, parents and players are encouraged to educate themselves on the differences between goalie masks on the mark.
The safest way to find out if a mask is legal is to look for a valid HECC certification sticker.
Taken from USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM, September 2019, page 18