With a job description that includes staring down 100-mile-per-hour slap shots, it’s clearly no picnic being a hockey goalie.
But the gig does have its perks, and helping to design a flashy paint job for your mask is one of them.
“I think it’s why a lot of guys become goalies – they want to get their mask painted,” Abbotsford Heat netminder Barry Brust said with a chuckle. “It’s a fun part of being a goalie.”
Most pro ‘tenders get a fresh paint job every season, and Brust asked Head Strong Grafx, a mask painting company out of Belleville, Ill., to put together a Street Fighter-themed design for his first season with the Heat.
The end result is striking, no pun intended. It features Ken and Ryu, iconic characters from the classic video game, on the sides – Ken on the left, Ryu on the right. The Calgary Flames’ logo is on the top, and Ryu is throwing it like a fireball.
“Brusty” is emblazoned on the chin in red letters, flanked by a pair of Abbotsford Heat logos.
“It was just a fun little idea,” Brust explained. “I wanted them to use the flaming C like they’re throwing a fireball ninja-style, like they do in the game.
“I used to play Street Fighter all the time with my friends (as a kid). It brings back a lot of good memories.”
As a youngster, Brust’s favourite NHL goalie masks were Ed Belfour’s “Eddie the Eagle” and Curtis Joseph’s “Cujo” set-up. Those were cutting-edge looks at the time, and are now considered classics.
Brust got his first paint job during his junior hockey days with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, and after turning pro in the Los Angeles Kings system, he really started tapping into his creativity. One of his masks featured a “Nightmare on Elm Street” motif – a reference to the fact that the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, play in a rink located on Elm Street.
He also had a Hollywood-themed paint job during his time in the Kings organization, and commissioned a Maverick-themed mask while with the AHL’s Houston Aeros. But his current Street Fighter lid is his favourite so far, and given his combative style, it seems to suit him.
“There’s pressure with it sometimes – you’ve got to be creative a little bit,” he said. “But it’s nice, because you get to put a little attitude on a blank slate.”