To many, the designated goalie position in ice hockey is considered the most important on the ice. The goalie is on the ice for the entire game, and therefore all three periods. Although this can vary from team to team or game to game, most teams playing at a competitive level will only use one goalie. Some teams have two or more goalies, in order to have a backup in case the starting goalie gets injured, or is not playing their best game. Goalies can be switched whenever the coach decides.
Throughout the game, the goalie stays very close to the net at all times, in order to make sure they are in position to protect their net. It is important for a goalie to stay as close to the net as possible. It is the goalie's main job to protect the net and stop the puck from entering it. Although goals are scored all of the time in hockey, when goalies are very good at protecting their nets and the puck from entering it, hockey games will be very low scoring. Therefore, the best goalies are the ones that can save the highest percentage of shots from going in their net.
Hockey goalies wear extra equipment in order to stay protected from the puck and injury. In addition to a mouth guard, a chest protector or shoulder pads, elbow pads, a 'jock', and a neck guard, goalies also wear other specialized equipment. Some of these include special goalie skates, a larger helmet, goalie pads that protect their legs, and lastly a blocker and glove, instead of regular hockey gloves.
In ice hockey, pulling the goalie is a tactic used when a team is losing by one goal. Teams are allowed to pull or remove their goalie from the ice in order to add an additional skater to the ice. This is risky, because it means that the team will have an "empty net", and therefore it would be much easier for the other team to score when they are in possession of the puck.
A great hockey goalie is not defined as just a goalie that never gets scored on, but a goalie that makes great saves. Like in every sport, points will be earned by all parties involved, and all goalies will be scored on by the opposing team, but what makes a great goalie is if they can stop a high percentage of shots taken on them. Goalies that are great tend to also be very flexible, mobile, and have quick reactions and reflexes.