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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona hockey goalies express themselves with their masks

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Tyler Besh / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Many people define themselves through what they wear. For hockey goalies, that distinctive article of clothing is a mask.

The four goalies on the Arizona hockey team each wears a different mask with distinct designs. At the college and professional levels, the masks start to get more elaborate.

“At the NHL level, some guys send theirs off a thousand miles just to make sure the right guy paints it,” head coach Sean Hogan said.

“Our guys have done a pretty good job with theirs.”

Sophomore Robert Schultz’s mask has cat eyes, a cage to represent the goal, the Arizona block “A” logo on one side, the Wildcat head logo on the other and a stripe down the middle, like Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard’s Ford Mustang design.

Schultz said a family member of a former coach paints the mask for him. He originally wanted a “flat black” mask like Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller, but it didn’t turn out how Schultz wanted, so it was changed to a stripe design.

“Last year when I got it done, I was trying to think so hard about stuff that I could personally put on my mask,” Schultz said. “I couldn’t think of anything. I think this is kind of more of a team one, instead of a personal one.”

Junior Steven Sisler’s mask features a Wildcat holding a sickly Sun Devil, a Christian cross, a desert and his nickname “Sizzler.”

Sisler gave an idea for the mask to three artists at the beginning of the summer and they worked with him to develop a design.

Up until college, goalies don’t usually design their masks, because at the junior level they often change teams and changing helmets can be expensive, Sisler added.

Herman’s mask is silver with the Wildcat head logo on each side, a brick wall, the “A” logo on the back and the skyline of Chicago, his hometown.

“I did it real basic because I wanted it to stand out from far away,” Herman said.

Herman’s mask was finished before last season started because he was able to find an artist in Phoenix who used to do the New York Islanders’ helmets.

“A lot of guys at the college level get stuff done by guys who paint NHL helmets, usually that can get up to $1,000 for a paint job,” Herman said.

With Hogan as head coach, the Wildcats have free reign to design the helmets as they please, as long as there are no vulgarities or inappropriate images. The previous head coach, Leo Golembiewski, who was a former goalie, also gave them freedom — except that they couldn’t have official UA logos.

Freshman Dylan Hojnacki, who walked on to the team, uses a plain black mask that he has had for a couple years.

Between the four goalies, Hogan said there is a rapport even though they are competing for the same position. In terms of whose design is the best, the general consensus is that Schultz’s reigns supreme.

“They seem pretty close. Goalies are an odd group,” said Hogan, whose brother was a goalie. “Who wants to get in the way of a 100 mile per hour slap shot?”

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