'It's game changing': Former goalie from Manitoba takes his invention to the pros

A retired professional goaltender from Manitoba has gone from saving goals to saving fingers.

Finger-saving invention being tested by NHL teams

Former professional goaltender Guy St. Vincent has invented a simple device, the Blok, that protects goalies fingers from slapshots. (Sam Samson/CBC)

A retired professional goaltender from Manitoba has gone from saving goals to saving fingers.

Guy St. Vincent, owner and operator of Top Shelf Goaltending in Ste. Anne, Man., has started marketing a simple device he invented to help keep slapshots away from goalies' fingers.

His invention, called the Blok, is a rubber sleeve that slips over a stick and sits at the top of the paddle, a couple of inches below where a goalie wraps the index finger of their blocker hand. 

It's designed to stop pucks from coming up the paddle of a goalie stick and slipping under the blocker — where a goalie's index finger and knuckle have little protection from speedy slapshots.

It's something St. Vincent — who played professionally for more than a decade — says happens often.

"What happens is the puck rides up on the shaft of our stick … we don't have anything else to help us deflect that," he explained.

"I've heard of goalies having their nails ripped off and the pressure split the finger itself."

St. Vincent says his own experience with the phenomenon led to his flash of ingenuity.

The rubber sleeve slides over a goalie's paddle and deflects pucks away from the goalie's vulnerable blocker hand index finger. (Sam Samson/CBC)

After a fast-moving puck slipped under his blocker and broke his finger during his first season playing professionally, St. Vincent created a prototype.

"I tried to tinker to find something that would work," he said. 

Since retiring from the ice in 2011 St. Vincent and a friend further developed the invention, which has a patent pending.

He's now taking their product to the pros. He says two NHL teams — the San Jose Sharks and the St. Louis Blues — are already trying it out and he's heading to an Austin, Texas, trade show next month where he'll get the chance to showcase the Blok to hundreds of professional equipment managers and athletic trainers.

And it's not just the pros who will benefit, says St. Vincent.

"This is a common thing in all ages," he said. "Because of how the goaltending world has evolved … the way we hold our sticks, stick positioning."

While he's not the first person to try to come up with a solution, St. Vincent says he's the first to find a way to protect a goalie's digits without hindering their play.

"Companies have tried to bulk up the padding on the blocker hand, but there's only so much they can do while still giving us the mobility in our hand to be able to use our stick properly," he said.

"Honestly, it's game changing … I wish I would have had something so simple as this when I played."

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