By Nash McGowan aka Crater Satori
Have you ever wondered how a NHL net stays in place on the ice? If you are like most people I talked to, the answer is probably a resounding “NO!”. Like most fans of the NHL, I am always interested in how my favorite team is doing in the standings or how many points my favorite players have or my preferred past time; playing arm chair GM. But I am also quite interested in the less thought about aspects of the game, such as how the ice surface is produced or how a composite stick is made. However, there is one very small piece of equipment in the game that gets little to no attention and I love to point it out to friends and family as we watch games on TV or live…and that is the goal peg.
Now we’ve all seen a hockey player (or players) crash and knock the net loose during game play. It’s one of those plays that we’ve all seen hundreds of times during the regular season and the playoffs. In the aftermath, there are always players shoving one another and trash talking while the referees try to sort out the carnage after the fact. You’ve all seen what I am talking about, it usually looks like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well after the ref clears the players out of the crease, hands penalties out or gets everyone back to their respective corners he needs to get the net back on its moorings. And this is what he uses to do it….

 
This is called, simply, a goal peg. The company I work for produces these little guys for the company that supplies the NHL and they are in turn supplied to all 30 NHL teams and the AHL for use during the season. These pegs have also been used in all variety of ice rinks, from local level peewee to the recent Vancouver Olympics.

 

While the goal peg is a rather unassuming piece of equipment, you might be surprised to learn about the effort that has gone into engineering these little pegs. Before we get into that, let’s mention the rule book. Here is an exert from Rule 2.1 of the NHL Rule Book:

Rule 2 – Goal Posts and Nets
2.1 Goal Posts – The goal posts shall be kept in position by means of flexible pegs affixed in the ice or floor. The flexible pegs shall be ten inches (10″) in length and bright lime green in color.

Now, the company I work for makes a number of different sizes, shapes and colors of goal pegs (as seen above) but for today we will focus on the product that the National Hockey League uses. If you’ll notice above in Rule 2.1, it states that the peg must be lime green in color. The reasoning for this is unknown to us but this color is not constant, just a couple years ago the NHL wanted their pegs in a red opaque color. As shown here in an AHL game:

 

I have to apologize for the less then stellar pictures, it is amazingly hard to find game play shots with the goal pegs in them.Throughout the years, my company has spent a considerable amount of time developing this product to meet the surprisingly stringent requirements. Aside from the mention of the length in the rules (above) pegs can not have more or less then, an overall diameter of 1.875” on the thick end and a diameter of 1.625” on the small end. We are only allowed a tolerance of +/- 0.20” for all dimensions. Which, for steel isn’t that tight but for urethane is fairly tight as polyurethane molding is not an exact science. Meaning we have put a lot of time and effort into the design of this product. This being said, dimensional tolerances are not the hardest part of the production. That would belong to the “torque” aspect of the peg. What this means is there needs to be a very specific “bend” radius and if a peg does not meet this (pretty much exactly) then that piece is considered a reject and is destroyed to ensure it never makes it out of our building. The torque is important because the net needs to have some room to move (flex) while on its moorings. I would assume that most of you have seen the net get hit during game play and it almost comes loose but manages to fall back in place; this is due to the torque feature of the peg. Suffice to say, we have an amazing amount of rejects while the pegs are in production. To give you an idea how precise these need to be, we run close to an expected 15-20% reject rate. Anyone in custom production will know that is an extremely high reject rate, but one that is acceptable to us to ensure a high quality product hits the market. There are quite a few other tests that are required for the goal peg, one of which is checking to ensure the hardness (Durometer) is within allowable tolerances because a Peg that is too hard or too soft will not perform correctly. The color scheme is extremely important to ensure all pegs look the same. Believe it or not it is very easy to produce a product that is perfect when it comes to the physical requirements yet if the color is off by even a small degree that peg will be rejected.

In finishing, I’ll apologize (again) if this may seem a little dry to anyone reading this. As I stated earlier, I find the little aspects that go into the staging of a National Hockey League (or any professional sport for that matter) game fascinating. When I started working for this company, I was blown away by the amount of time, money and effort
that has gone into the production of this little, modest piece of equipment. I can’t even begin to imagine the requirements of some of the more important equipment from goalie pads to pucks to helmets.

So next time you are at a game or watching the game in the comfort of your own home and you see one of those typical plays where the players all crash the goalie and the net comes off, please take the time to notice the goal peg and who knows, one day we may see game-used goal peg cards!