After it was announced that he had made the 24-man roster that will represent the United States at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Ufa, Russia, Guelph Storm G (and Leafs prospect) Garrett Sparks took to twitter to unveil his sleek new mask.
The artwork for the mask was done by Archie Manning, who was recently featured in this piece by Shawn Reznik of The Hockey Writers. There, Manning explained how he collaborates with goalies to come up with the perfect mask:
When a team or goalie contacts me about a mask we go over the ideas they would like to incorporate. They send reference materials to me and from there I draw up concepts for them. After the concepts are sent off we have a phone call meeting to discuss any alterations that need to be made. Then I create a final rendering in Photoshop and we base the mask off that. When the mask comes into Air Trix Studios we strip the mask down to the bare shell, make any repairs that are needed and they get primed and prepared for the paint process. After the mask is prepared for paint, it goes into the heart of the studio – my painting table. Here the artwork is applied and any free hand portraits are done using our great airbrushes from Iwata. Once all the art work is done, it goes into the booth and is clear coated using our great system and water sanded and polished to a great finish! After the mask has dried, we inspect the mask and then it goes to final assembly and photography. It’s a very fun journey for goalies and myself. Normally this whole process takes all of 12-16 days. (from “An In-Depth Look At Goalie Mask Airbrush Art“, August 2012)
While the predominant line of thinking is that Kitchener Rangers G John Gibson will get the bulk of the time in the US net, and that Jon Gillies will serve as the #2 option, there is a very real possibility that Sparks may get the call to step in at some point during the tournament.
If so, this new helmet – reminiscent of Ed Belfour’s old mask – will certainly be a nice look.
Here’s the word on Sparks, from Chris Peters of the United States of Hockey blog:
Garret Sparks – Elmhurst, Ill. — In the midst of a terrific season with the Guelph Storm, Sparks covers a lot of the net and has some really great athleticism. He seems to excel with more shots against, which is obviously a good thing for a goalie. He’ll probably trade off with Gillies, but gives the U.S. a solid 19-year-old goalie on the roster with a lot of work completed already this year.
The first game for Team USA will be on Thursday, December 27th vs Germany (9 am).
Storm fans will no doubt be keeping their eyes on Sparks, as well as Swiss F Tanner Richard. Be sure to keep up with both on twitter here:
Happy Holidays, everyone. Reminder that the Storm take to the ice on December 28th vs Belleville.
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