I’ve been playing various forms of hockey since I was a kid. I’ve been lucky enough to not have suffered many injuries. It wasn’t until this year that I got highsticked in the face just below my lips. Luckily, I didn’t lose any teeth or require stitches. It was this instance that I thought about it more…what if I had lost some teeth? It’s fixable… what about my eye? I’ve always worn at least a half visor. I have to say I wasn’t completely stupid. But there are chances of getting a blade up in the eye. And as such, I decided I’d wear some sort of full face protection. I’ve experimented with full face shields before. I recall having an iTech Concept II full face shield and many iterations of cages. They either fogged up, got scratched or blocked my vision. For a few games after my injury, I wore a cage. While it didn’t fog up, the bars are just really annoying. I scoured the net for ideas… the ITech FX-50 which was half plastic shield and half cage was an option but it’s no longer for sale. The Bauer/ITech Recon, which was a one piece plastic mask looked weird. I managed to find some forums discussing this little known company making a polycarbonate full face shield that claimed to be scratch/fog resistant. I figure why not, I like to try stuff off the beaten path, like my Sprung inline skate frames.
For about $69US (free shipping), it’s not totally out of line. Your pretty face is worth many times more than that. It came in about 2 weeks in it’s original packing without any signs of mishandling. Included in the box were instructions, J-clips, chin cup/strap, and screws. The HECC certified shield installed onto my CCM HT04 like any cage or shield you’d get from the major hockey brands. As far as I know, there is only one size but I recall reading about a junior version for the little ones. Like some of the Bauer/ITech setups, the lens is replaceable when scratched up. Just unscrew the lens from the plastic cage part.
What is unique about this face shield is that it comes in a lot of colours. From clear to gold and even purple, it should have all your favourite colours covered. I opted for the clear shield just so I don’t stand out. I might get myself a red shield and red helmet just cause I can.
I tried to fog it up with my own breath on the inside and outside of the shield and it didn’t. I have also played a few games with it and I have say, it didn’t fog up either. I have yet to test out it’s scratch worthiness but I’ll believe them for now. Mind you I’ve only played roller hockey with it on since it’s summer here. So not sure if it’ll be more prone to fogging when it’s cold and humid. One problem with plastic shields is water splatter. No shield is immune from this. During my games, I noticed sweat, water and other liquids splattered onto the shield. So make sure you have something to wipe it off with when you’re at the bench. Other than that, the clarity and field of view is great. I don’t notice anything getting in the way.
There are many big name companies making face protection but the one thing that really startles me is that there is very little innovation in this department. They still sell the same stuff that I bought decades ago. I’m really glad to see the little guys, like the Boulder Hockey Shield Company, take such risks. The president and creator of this shield even emailed me directly too! That’s customer service for you. The AVH-1 PC makes some pretty big claims for clarity, toughness, and unfoggability (is that a word?), and so far it’s lived up to it! I play with more confidence knowing I’ll be safe from injury to the face. If you’re looking to move from a half-shield to full mask, take a look at their product. It’s not bad, it’s great!