Miska Designs Goalie Mask Graphics


The Goaltender: The armored knight who stands in battle during the toughest competition, the last line of defense and the mysterious man behind “The Mask”.

Playing goal is an art form – a position of skill, athleticism, timing, positioning and mastery. And now, through the graphical talents of an airbrush artist, the personalities of the goaltender are at the forefront of their mystique.

Today there are many manufacturers of fine head equipment for goaltenders as well as artists who paint them. However, before I introduce the main ingredients of this article, please understand that the main purpose of a goalie mask is first – protection and secondly – comfort.

Back some thirty plus years ago; goaltenders were all grins and toothless smiles as they actually saw the puck coming at them, head on, without any such protection. Goaltenders being openly exposed to a puck I’m sure left its mark in more ways then one.

With the advent of the slapshot and curved sticks; and players getting bigger, faster and stronger, the need for protection was apparent. Out of necessity the goalie mask was invented.

Though very archaic in design and composition, it was the introduction of how the goaltender came across and his personality expressed. The mask was part of his persona, what makes one individual stand out from the rest.

Thus, the making of the mask – that is the Gerry Cheevers mask – reincarnated. Cheevers (to Bruins Fans aka “Cheesy”), the undisputable heavyweight champion of goaltenders, was the goalie who had the most distinctive goalie mask on the planet. The stitches on his plain white mask become his trademark. It was the epitome of the position, knowing that when he took a puck to the face another stitch mark would appear. The Hall of Famer, through his style of play and artistic approach, has brought the concept of graphic design on the goaltender mask through the ages.

Now to the present; Goaltender Steve Shields (acquired from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks by the Bruins over the summer) is literally faced with his first challenge moving to a new team – what design does he put on his mask?

Like getting a tattoo, the design on a goalie mask leaves a lasting impression to the fans, to the players and in the hockey history books. Steve Shields turned to his long time mask designer and graphic artist Todd Miska of Miska Designs. Steve actually gave Todd two different tasks: first, to come up with his first game debut mask concept and secondly, to design a game mask for the rest of the season. Both of them decided that a tribute to Gerry Cheevers, as an explosive idea, would be the debut mask honoring one of the greatest goaltenders to reach the shores of Boston. Now it was up to Todd Miska to make the concept a reality.

Steve Shields has been using goalie masks from Warwick Custom Goalie Masks for years. The same prototype of his previous mask was shipped out to
Todd Miska’s design shop. The mask was sent without the front cage and interior padding so that once the custom painting was completed, those features could be added last.

Todd analyzed and conceptualized many pictures of the Cheevers mask, which he needed to transfer to the latest mask style. The goaltender mask of the present has a front cage unlike the “flush to the face” mask of old with cutout eye and breathing holes.

With Steve’s acceptance, Todd added the full head expression, from the multi
stitched Cheevers mask down to the ears and hair. Step one for Todd was
to prime the rough fiberglass and Kevlar shell with an epoxy primer. Todd then used a grease pencil to outline the design on the mask shell. Once the designs took shape and were completed to Todd’s satisfaction, airbrushing of the base was completed using all the colors that make up the Cheevers mask, skin tones and hair colors. Todd then painted the right half to the left half (with help from a mirror) using the oil base Pantone colors and a permanent marker.

Once this crucial phase was completed, the mask is clear-coated with 6-8 layers of a poly-based finish. It is then allowed to sit and harden. The next step was for the mask to be wet sanded and buffed to reveal the final finished product. The mask was packed and shipped back to Gary Warwick at Warwick Custom Goalie Masks where the high-impact, insulated rubber padding, pro cage, chin cup, screw fixtures and the back plate harness were added. The finished mask was then shipped off to Steve Shields awaiting his highly anticipated conversational piece.

With Steve Shields sharing in the netminding duties at The FleetCenter, the torch has been passed from a Boston legend of Bruins and the legacy of Bruins goaltending lives on. And deeply etched in our memories of the great Gerry Cheevers days of old, the mask we all know so well will once again be the talk of the town.





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