US 20040072633 A1
A hockey goal having a hockey goal frame, a plurality of open-faced net connection loops based around the frame and a hockey net connected to the frame through the open-faced connection loops.
1. A hockey goal comprising:
a hockey goal frame;
a plurality of open-faced net connection loops spaced along portions of said frame; and
a hockey net connected to said frame through said connection loops.
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3. The hockey goal of
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10. The hockey goal of
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16. A method of assembling a hockey goal comprising:
providing a hockey goal frame having a plurality of open-faced net connection loops spaced along portions of said frame;
providing a hockey net having an edge cord extending continuously around the periphery of the net; and
attaching said net to said frame by connecting said edge cord to each of said open-faced connection loops.
17. The method of
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19. The method of
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates generally to a hockey goal and more particularly to a hockey goal with an improved means for connecting the goal net or a replacement goal net to the goal frame.
 2. The Prior Art
 Hockey goals are generally are comprised of a frame member and a goal net connected to the frame. The frame member includes a forward frame member defining the goal opening and a lower frame member to stabilize the goal and a plurality of rearward frame members to support the net rearwardly of the goal opening. The goal net is conventionally connected to the frame in a variety of ways. For hockey goals used in professional hockey and most organized hockey, portions of the forward and lower frame members are provided with a plurality of closed eyelet or loop elements. To secure the net to the frame, a cord or rope is threaded through these loops and at the same time, woven in and out through openings in the edge portions of the net. As can be expected, this is a particularly time-consuming process. Thus, it is not widely used for hockey goals where quick replacement of the net is desired such as, but not limited to, goals which are intended to be repeatedly assembled and disassembled.
 For hockey goals which are designed for repeated assembly and disassembly, the nets are attached to the frame in a variety of ways. One way is to thread the forward and lower members of the frame (while it is disassembled) through the edge openings in the net and then to assemble the frame with the net attached to those frame members. While this is certainly quicker than simultaneously threading a cord through closed eyelets on the frame and weaving the cord through the edge openings of a net, a primary disadvantage is that the threads at the edge portions of the net are necessarily exposed to the forward edge frame at the goal opening and to the bottom edge of the lower frame member. Thus, these edge portions are exposed to significant wear by pucks striking the forward edge as a result of dragging the hockey goal along the ice or a concrete surface, which is often done.
 A second way of connecting a hockey net to a goal which is intended for repeated assembly and disassembly is to wrap a cord simultaneously around the frame and through the edge openings in the net. This also necessarily exposes the connection cord to increase wear at the forward edge of the front frame member and the bottom edge of the lower frame member.
 Other forms of connection include using short pieces of cord or Velcro straps spaced along the frame and extending through edge openings in the net and around the frame. These suffer from the same limitations as the other connection mechanisms discussed above in that a portion of the connection cord or Velcro is exposed to the forward edge of the front frame and the bottom edge of the rear frame, thus resulting in significant wear.
 Accordingly, there is a need in the art for a hockey goal and more particularly a hockey goal having a means for connecting the net to the frame which is quick, is easy, and which, when connected, limits the wear on the net.
 In contrast to the prior art, the present invention relates to a hockey goal and more particularly to a hockey goal comprising an improved means for connecting a hockey goal net to the hockey goal frame. The means in accordance with the present invention facilitates the attachment of a net to a goal frame which is quick and easy and which limits the wear on the net when assembled. Although not intended to be limited, the means in accordance with the present invention has particular application to hockey goals which are used for practice and hockey goals that are intended to be, or can be, repeatedly assembled and disassembled.
 More specifically, one aspect of the present invention relates to a hockey goal which includes a frame and a plurality of spaced, open-face connection loops extending from the frame. The open-face loop provides a means for direct connection of a hockey net or for connection of a hockey net through a cord or the like. When such a cord is utilized, the cord extends through the edge openings of a hockey net and are hooked onto the open-face connection loops on the frame.
 Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to provide an improved hockey goal.
 Another object of the present invention is to provide a hockey goal with an improved means for connecting a hockey net to the hockey goal frame.
 Another object of the present invention is to provide a connection means between a hockey net and a hockey goal frame which is quick and easy and which overcomes the limitations of the prior art.
 These and other objects of the present invention will become apparent with reference to the drawings, the description of the preferred embodiment and the appended claims.
FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an assembled hockey goal incorporating the hockey net connection means in accordance with the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a top elevational view of the hockey goal of FIG. 1, with the net removed.
FIG. 3 is an elevational, side fragmentary view of a portion of the front frame member and lower frame member, with the hockey net removed.
FIG. 4 is an isometric view of a hockey net with attachment cord for use with the present invention.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of an edge of the hockey net with a connection cord woven through the edge openings.
FIG. 6 is an enlarged elevational view of a portion of the front frame member and the net being connected thereto.
FIG. 7 is an enlarged elevational view of a portion of the front frame member with the hockey net connected thereto.
FIG. 8 is an isometric, broken-apart view showing the individual frame members which commonly make up a readily assembled and disassembled hockey goal.
FIG. 9 is a view, partially in section, showing means for connecting adjacent frame members.
FIG. 10 is a view, partially in section, showing a further means for connecting adjacent frame members.
FIG. 11 is an elevational side fragmentary view of a portion of a frame member showing an open-faced connection loop.
FIG. 12 is an elevational side fragmentary view similar to that of FIG. 11 with a net and connection cord attached.
 Reference is first made to FIGS. 1-3 showing an assembled hockey goal 10 and portions of the frame assembly. The hockey goal 10 of the present invention includes a frame assembly and a hockey net connected thereto. More specifically, the frame assembly includes a forward frame member comprised of a top frame portion 11 and a pair of side frame portions 12,12. A lower frame member includes a pair of frame portions 14,14 extending rearwardly from the bottom ends of the side frame portions 12,12 respectively and a rear frame portion 15 connected with the outer ends of the frame portions 14,14. The frame assembly also includes a net supporting frame member which includes a plurality of net supporting frame portions connected with the forward frame member and the lower frame member. Specifically, the net supporting frame portions include a pair of frame portions 16,16 which extend rearwardly from the top frame portion 11, an upper and rearward frame portion 18 joining the outer ends of the frame portions 16,16 and a frame portion 19 extending from near the center of the frame portion 18 to near the center of the frame portion 15.
 With continuing reference to FIGS. 1-3 and further reference to FIGS. 6, 7, 11 and 12, each frame portion 11, 12,12 of the front frame member and each frame portion 14,14, 15 of the lower frame member is provided with a plurality of spaced, open-face connection loops 20. As shown best in FIGS. 6, 7, 11 and 12. Each of these connection loops 20 includes a pair of ends 21,21 which are rigidly and permanently connected to its respective frame portion by welding, by adhesive, or the like and a center portion comprised of a pair of end or outer loop portions 22,22 and a center or inner loop portion 24. In the preferred embodiment, the wire ends 21 are connected to the frame portion via the welds 27.
 As shown best by viewing FIGS. 6, 7, 11 and 12 together, it can be seen that the open-face connection loop 20 is of a wire construction in which one of the ends 21 is integrally joined with the outer end of one of the outer loop elements 22. The inner ends of both of the loop elements 22,22 are integrally joined with the outer ends of the center loop element 24. Each of the loop elements 22,22 comprises a wire-like structure which is bent in a generally spiral or helical loop through approximately 360°, with its outer end joined to its respective end 21 and its inner end joined to an outer end of the center loop element 24. The center loop element 24 comprises a wire-like structure and is a continuation of the inner ends of the outer loop elements 22,22. The outer ends of the center loop element continue in a generally spiral or helical configuration toward the middle through approximately 180°, at which point they join with one another.
 Another way of defining the open-face loop of the preferred embodiment is to describe it as constructed of a single piece of wire or wire-like structure having two ends, with each end of the wire connected with a frame portion and the center, unconnected portion of the wire being bent or formed into a spiral or helical configuration. Specifically, each half of the center portion of the loop 20 extends spirally or helically (in the same direction) toward the other until they meet in the center of the connection loop 20. Preferably each half of the center portion of the loop 20 (extending from an end to the center) should spiral through at least 270°, more preferably through at least 360°, and most preferably through at least about 450° before meeting and joining the other half. Most preferably, each half spirals through about 540° before meeting the other half. Further, as shown best in FIGS. 11 and 12, substantially the entire center portion of the loop 20 (comprised of loop portions 22,22 and 24) is spaced from the respective frame portion by the distance 33. This distance 33 in the embodiment shown is sufficiently large to permit the connection cord 32 (hereinafter described) to pass between the frame portion and the center portion of the loop 20.
 The above-described open-face connection loop 20 provides a connection loop by which cord or a net edge can be retained within the loop without further connecting elements and without threading the cord or a net edge through a closed loop structure. The open-face connection loop 20 is similar to the connection loops commonly found on a basketball rim and the structure of such connection loop or hook is incorporated herein by reference.
 It is contemplated that a variety of open-face connection loop structures may be utilized without deviating from the present invention. Accordingly, unless otherwise stated, it is intended that the term open-face connection loop means a connection loop or connection hook to which an endless cord or the like can be connected without knotting and without using further connection elements.
 The hockey net designed for use in the present invention is shown best in FIGS. 4-7. Preferably, the net itself is comprised of a plurality of cord members 25 which are joined to one another throughout the net at connection points 26 to form a plurality of square or diamond-shaped openings 31. The edge of the net 23, around its entire periphery, is provided with an edge cord 28. The edge cord 28 is joined to edge ends of the cord portions 25 at the connection points 29. The edge cord 28 in combination with adjacent cord portions 25, forms a plurality of generally triangular-shaped net edge openings 30 along the peripheral edge of the net 23. In the preferred embodiment, a connection cord 32 is provided along the edge of the net 23. This connection cord 32 is connected with the net 23 by weaving the cord 32 in and out through adjacent net edge openings 25 as shown in FIGS. 5, 6 and 7 and then knotting or otherwise connecting the ends of the cord 32 together. The cord 32 is an endless or closed loop cord which is preferably constructed of an elastic material. This allows it to be stretched and to exert a force tending to return to its at rest or unstretched length. This unstretched length should preferably be less than the total length of the frame portions provided with connection loops 20 (hereinafter “connector frame length”). As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, such frame portions would include framed portions 11, and 12,12 of the front frame member and frame portions 14,14 and 5 of the bottom frame member.
 In the preferred embodiment, the net 23 is connected to the frame by connecting the connection cord 32 to each of the open-face connection loops 20 along the front frame member and the lower frame member as shown in FIG. 1. This is done by passing a section of the endless cord 32 between the loop 20 and the respective frame member (in the area identified by the distance 33 in FIGS. 11 and 12) and then looping it over the center loop portion 24. This captures the cord 32 within the loop portions 22,22 and 24 of the loop 20. The remainder of the net 23 then merely drapes over the frame portions 16,16, 18 and 19. By providing an elastic connection cord with a length less than the connector frame length, the tensioned or tightened cord 32 keeps the net 23 tight around its edges and close to the frame portions to which it is connected.
 Although the preferred embodiment contemplates the net 23 being provided with a closed loop connection cord 32 extending along the net, woven through the edge openings 30, and then knotted, the benefits of the present invention can be utilized without the connection cord 32. In such case, the edge cord 28 of the net 23 is simply connected to the open-face connection loops 20 along the front and lower frame numbers.
 It is contemplated that the hockey goal frame itself can be formed of a unitary, integral structure in which the various frame members are welded or otherwise permanently fixed to one another or can be of a modular structure, such as that shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, comprised of a plurality of frame elements which are designed to be assembled and disassembled. For example, FIG. 8 shows a modular frame, without the plurality of open-face connection loops. In this embodiment, the top frame portion is comprised of the frame section 34 and portions of the curved frame sections 35,35 and each of the side frame portions are comprised of a frame section 36 and portions of the frame sections 35 and 38. The rear frame portion of the lower frame member is comprised of portions of the frame sections 39 and 40, while the side frame portions of the lower frame member are comprised of portions of the frame sections 38 and 40. The net supporting frame portions is comprised of the frame sections 41, 42 and 43 and portions of frame sections 35 and 39.
 A modular frame structure such as that shown in FIG. 8 includes means for joining adjacent frame sections together. Two such means are shown in FIGS. 9 and 10. In the embodiment of FIG. 9, one of the frame sections 44 includes an end 45 of reduced diameter which is inserted into the frame section 46 in the direction of the arrow 48.
 The embodiment of FIG. 10 is similar to that of FIG. 9 except that the frame section 50 is provided with a connection clip 51 having a pair of connection buttons 52,52 biased outwardly through holes in the reduced diameter end 54. The frame section 55 includes holes to receive the connection buttons as shown by broken lines 56. To connect the frame sections 50 and 55, the buttons 52 are depressed and the end 54 is inserted into the section 55 in the direction of the arrow 58. The buttons are then released to assume the position shown by the broken lines 56.
 Although the description of the preferred embodiment has been quite specific, it is contemplated that various modifications can be made without deviating from the spirit of the present invention. Accordingly, it is intended that the scope of the present invention can be dictated by the appended claims rather than by the description of the preferred embodiment.