Hockey uniforms don’t lend themselves to individuality. Everyone wears the same jerseys, same shorts and same socks. Typically, colored shoelaces are the extent of a player’s self-expression.
The lone exception is the goalie mask. Goalies at every level personalize their helmets, and those images can become as familiar as the players themselves.
However, when he joined the Winterhawks last season Ian Curtis came adorned with a plain white helmet. That austere lid lasted the length of last season and into this year. Curtis was in no hurry to make a change until receiving an e-mail from Steve Gillette, owner of Show Quality Restorations
, an auto body shop in Longview, Washington. Gillette had been at the Winterhawks game on Nov. 28 and thought he and his colleague, artist Ray Cooper, could help Curtis personalize his helmet.
After receiving the e-mail and being told they could turn the helmet around in a week, the wheels were set in motion and Curtis began thinking about what he wanted his new look to be. For inspiration, he turned to some of the sights he encountered on his daily commute to and from the arena.
The front and lower sides of the mask feature intricately drawn roses. The left side of the mask shows Mt. Hood, while the right side is the Union Station Go By Train Sign. The back is a nightscape of the Portland skyline with the iconic Made In Oregon sign front and center.
“It represents the route I take on the way home living in Gresham. I pass the Go By Train tower, then I pass the neon Made In Oregon sign, then Mt. Hood is in the distance as I drive home to Gresham,” said Curtis of the local landmarks he chose for the helmet. “I had a whole bunch of personal ideas I wanted to put on it but my gear is simple and this is such a neat place. I love the city and I like the way it looks from the rose gardens to Mt. Hood and a really cool Old Town, it reminds me of Gastown in Vancouver (B.C.) back home.”
The most striking thing about the look is the detail: the roses feature numerous layers of petals, his nickname of “Magurt” along the bottom of the back, and several other small touches that make the mask unique.
“On the Union Station clock tower there’s two clocks that show and one is set at three, and the other clock is set at four for my number 34,” said Curtis. “And on the top by the tower it’s usually the State of Oregon flag that’s underneath the American flag and I threw the Canadian flag in there as a shoutout to Canada. Those are two inside things you wouldn’t know unless you got up close to it.”
The top of the helmet also features several Winterhawks logos done in a speckled metallic paint that show only when the light hits it directly.
“That was their idea and I really think it makes the helmet…the pearly white logos make it pop a little bit more,” said Curtis. “Showing the face is definitely a great idea and you can see the true artist in him come through. It looks awesome and I’m grateful he did that because it would look a little strange being so plain.”
It was the first time Gillette and Cooper had designed and painted a goalie helmet, and their work left such an impression that Mac Carruth is enlisting them to paint his helmet.
“A lot of guys use their mask as a personal thing, they tend to put a lot of stuff they’re interested in, in terms of stuff away from the rink like music or cars. But I figured I’d appeal to the fans a bit more by throwing in some more local landmarks,” said Curtis. “I think it’s pretty neat and I hope it appeals to the fans and they get a kick out of it.”