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The Masked Men - The Inspiration Behind In The Crease

Frank Pietrangelo (Manchester Storm)

One of the first things that struck me about the game of hockey was the netminders - what was it about these guys that made them choose to purposely get in the way of slap shots travelling over 100mph?  Maybe itís the pressure they thrive on, that in any one game they can be the hero or the villain in the fanís eyes?  Maybe they didnít have the best shot or were the best skaters as kids?  Or maybe itís getting to wear one of those masks they have!

The netminderís masks and the designs on them are an iconic image of the game of hockey and it wasnít long after I started watching the game that a real fascination with these piece of equipment was born.

The development of the netminder mask over the years and the increase in protection for the goalies that has gone along with this is all well and good but to be honest, a little dry!  My interest lies in the designs they have had added to them - each one, a unique piece of art.  And, just as the safety aspects of the masks has developed over the years so has the intricacy and detail on the designs painted on them -  just compare Frank Pietrangeloís Penguins mask with the one Johan Hedberg is wearing now (see links below) and this becomes very obvious.  While most of the designs are related to the teamís logo and colours there are some netminders, most notably Curtis Joseph and Ed belfour (in the NHL), that have a personal design on them, regardless of which team they are playing for - for Belfour this is an Eagle and for CuJo, a wild dogís face.

Tom Barrasso (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Jim Hrivnak (Washington Capitals)

This fascination with the masks and my respect for the role of the netminder in general meant when I came to build my website I wanted a netminder-related title and this led directly to the site being called In The Crease.  On the original version of the site (long committed to cyberspace heaven!) all the links were presented as images of different nerminder masks and up until the previous version of the site, this use of netminders in the navigation menus in some way had been continued but with the introduction of text based navigation in this new look this has gone! 

That isnít to say that my interest in this area and with it the netminder side of the site has gone - far from it!!  As long as I am spending time squinting from Block 107 at the opposing teamís netminder, trying to 

work out just what that design is I donít think that side of the site will ever disappear.  This nod to the masked men of the game can be seen most clearly in The Locker Room, which showcases mask images and the ITC Online Hockey Card Collection where two series are devoted entirely to netminders.

PD - 27/07/02

Related Pages : The Locker Room, Manchester Storm Masks, Pittsburgh Penguins Masks, ITC Hockey Cards