Here’s What Should Be On Your Neck
Serious neck injuries are rare but when they happen tend to be severe. So let's cover all the different set ups just to be safe!
1 BNQ Certified Neck Guards
First of all, what the hell is BNQ?
BNQ stands for Bureau de Normalisation du Quebec. Based in Quebec, BNQ is an organization that created the standard for cut resistant neck guards. The test requires the neck guard have a certain amount of coverage that is determined by standards that BNQ developed. The test is a blade on a swinging test apparatus that is run across the neck guard to test for cut penetration. Sounds like fun, eh?
The requirement to use a BNQ certified neck guard is only for Canada.
2 Uncertified Neck Guards
The most popular option for adults who aren't mandated to wear a BNQ certified guards, you’ll see most CHL/NHL/NCAA goalies who choose to protect their neck go this route. Unlike their BNQ counterparts, these products ride lower in the front, and don’t wrap all the way around the neck.
Because of this design, non-BNQ neck guards are much more comfortable as they allow airflow down the spine as well as the neck.
Although they don’t offer full coverage from skate cuts, these protectors still cover the base of the neck as well as the entire collarbone. Most impacts in this area will either be tipped, or hit the mask/chest-protector first taking away a majority of the puck’s energy.
3 Padded Under Shirts
Goalie specific padded shirts combine protection and a moisture wicking under-shirt into one unit. The main advantage going this route is convenience; by putting the two together it is one less thing you have to put in your bag and ultimately on your body.
We’ve had the most success with the CCM and Bauer Goalie Padded Shirts after experimenting with a few brands (Farrell, G-Shock, ShockDoctor to name a few).
CCM's padded shirt does a really good job of managing heat while offering a nice protection package. The high-density foam pads placed on the collarbone, chest and ribs are perforated, allowing air to easily access your skin. In addition, the foam is segmented allowing full range of motion without the padding interfering too much with your chest/arm while moving your arms.
The Bauer Elite padded shirt packs a bunch of revolutionary new technologies into one shirt. A new material called FleXorb is used instead of foams for impact coverage. FleXorb technology is featured in the collarbone, chest and ribs to offer superior impact absorption and increased mobility. It also features Bauer's revolutionary new 37.5 material to maximize the evaporation of sweat to keep you cool.
4 Lexans/Danglers/”That Hanging Plastic Thing”
Lexan neck guards can be worn in combination with any of the previously mentioned neck guards. As far as protection goes, lexans are simultaneously the best and worst option on the market today. As the lexan material they’re named after is extremely rigid, combined with the fact that the actual plastic floats 4-5” away from your body, pucks never come anywhere near your neck. Sure there’ll be some vibrations and perhaps a loud “clack” upon impact—but it does the job.
The downside to only wearing a lexan is that any sudden jerk of the head, a stick, or abrupt shove can misalign the dangler with your neck. At that point if the puck happens to find its way through the crowd into your bare collarbone you won’t be seeing the ice for quite some time.
And while only wearing a lexan is certainly an improvement over wearing nothing at all, if you’re not thrilled about the idea of combining it with a rigid neck guard underneath, check out the Bauer Core Kevlar base layer shirt (BNQ certified) with built-in neck guard to ward off any potential skate cuts, which is another hazard that can occur with a standalone dangler.
Given that you have the financial freedom, we'd recommend that you mix and match to and figure out which one works for you because it really comes down to personal preference.
*It should be noted that this blog is not intended to give goalies in Canadian minor hockey a reason to ditch their BNQ certified neck guards. Unfortunately, unlike our neighbours to the south, you’ll have to wait until you’ve graduated to junior, college, pro, or inevitably like the rest of us… beer league.