March 22, 2017

Another Dream Come True

Since I was a little kid playing Pee Wee in rural Nova Scotia, I wanted my own custom painted mask. The first year I played in net was the last year my local hockey association used masks like this...

Vintage Cooper MaskI can't tell you for sure this was the same model mask but I know that I took a shot off the top of my head and got knocked out in something similar. The following years before my first retirement from hockey I used various different helmets and cages and never really had a chance to get my custom paint job.

Since coming back to the net, I started my own adult league team and enjoyed working up a team logo and jerseys and giving the team an identity. The Puck Hawgs were born in the summer of 2015 and since then I've often thought that getting a custom painted goalie helmet would be the icing on the cake.

Puck Hawgs
For the past two years I've been playing with a CCM9000 helmet (Senior) and about a year ago I replaced the stock metal cage with a black powder coated cat eye cage. I love it but the next step was a fully custom design. A Puck Hawgs design.

I sought out mask painters but the estimates were sometimes double the cost of the helmet itself and since there's no NHL scouts on the horizon, they were out of my price range. I started seeing more and more about helmet wraps which use custom printed vinyl applied to the helmet that mimics paint. I've seen enough of these to know they can look as good as any paint job and possibly hold up longer without chipping.

I chose Skinfx wraps: Designed & produced by Mark Maghnanti. He was highly reviewed in the goalie communities I frequent and his gallery included several examples of the style I was after. Simple, clean graphics instead of the complex shapes and patterns I see on so many masks that seems to hide any identity. I sent him an example of a mask I liked (Anderson- Ottawa Senators), and the Puck Hawgs logo. In an amazingly short period of time, Mark was messaging me with ideas and mockups that were soon followed by complete designs. After I gave him huge thumbs up on his ideas, he turned out the final product in just a few days.

After seeing the final result, I couldn't be happier and it feels like another childhood dream come true. My own custom mask tricked out with the logo and colors of my own team! Special thanks to Mark for working through the entire process with enthusiasm and patience to get me something I am so proud of. I cannot wait to get on the ice with the Hawgs and my amazing Hawg helmet.

Mask Design
Progression of design
Puck Hawgs helmet
The final product

March 20, 2017

10 Seconds

The Puck Hawgs were dominating the game.

At 6-0 after two periods, I hadn't faced many shots but I had remained sharp and stopped a few good scoring chances. I was feeling pretty good when suddenly, that word popped into my head. Shutout.

I'm not really superstitious but a long while ago I found out that thinking about a shutout inevitably leads to a goal. Or two. Or three. I quickly pushed the thought out of my mind and committed myself to focusing on the game and the next shot.

Time ticked away on the clock. Soon the game was down to just a few minutes left with the Puck Hawgs leading 10-0. The opposing team was resigned to the outcome and probably thinking more about a cold beer after the game than anything else.

Suddenly, one of their forwards burst across our blue line. One last rush with two minutes to go. The ref blew his whistle as my defenseman lifted the stick of the rusher and called a hooking penalty. It was a weak call. "He only lifted his stick!" I shouted at the ref as he skated by. "Ya, well they gotta score a goal sometime", he answered back with a grin on his face. I wasn't smiling.

Two icings later, there was a faceoff in our zone. The puck was dropped and a mad scramble took place in the slot. The puck squirted onto the stick of an opposing player and he leaned onto his stick for a wrister 6 feet in front of me. I dropped down and watched as it sailed over my glove-side shoulder and into the net. I was stunned. I don't think I've ever come as close to a shutout only to have it broken up so late in a game.

I turned around and looked at the clock. 10 seconds left. 10 seconds man. That's just not right.

I gave my team some good-natured grief in the locker room. All I got back was chirps like, "Next time maybe you should stop them all." Those guys are jerks. Don't they know that shutouts are like finding a diamond in a field for this Ancient Netminder.

10 seconds.