UNO’s masked men

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By Nate Tenopir, Sports Editor

It’s been said that goaltenders are a different breed.  While many are known for their work between the pipes, they also build reputations based on off-the-ice adventures, locker room hijinks and strange habits.

Perhaps it takes a different kind of personality to enjoy a six-ounce puck coming at you from all directions.  The self-expression typical of most goaltenders has its place on the ice as well.

Though pads and loads of equipment can often keep a goalie anonymous, there is always one thing that shows a personal touch: the mask.

“I really like the Super Bee; I think he’s pretty cool,” freshman goaltender Dayn Belfour said about the design on his mask.  “He’s always doing a burnout, and he likes going fast and those are kind of things that I like to do.  Especially the old muscle cars, I really have an appreciation for them because of my father and his hobby.”

His father has a muscle car restoration business and has been working below the hood since he was a teenager.  But his father is also Ed Belfour, a Hall of Fame goaltender with the third most-wins all time.

One of the things Belfour was known for during his career was his mask.  Regardless of which team Ed Belfour played for, each mask featured an image of an eagle, earning him the nickname ‘Eddie the Eagle.’

But just because Ed Belfour retired from hockey that didn’t mean he retired from mask design.  The younger Belfour said that his current Super Bee design was his father’s idea.

That’s one way to do it.  Teammate Fredrik Bergman prefers to show his sense of humor in his mask design.  The left side of Bergman’s helmet is dominated by a five-card hand from the game Uno.

“I’ve always just kind of [been into] ironic humor,” Bergman said.  “Obviously UNO is the same as Uno (the card game).  I‘ve wanted to do this for two years now with the Uno cards.  I’ve got three, five (my number), then stop, stop, stop for three periods in hockey…a shutout.”

As humorous as Bergman may try to be on one side, much of the rest of his helmet is a tribute to his home country of Sweden.  Bergman was born there and shares dual citizenship in Sweden and the United States.

The back of his mask has a Swedish and American flag and the top of his mask has three silver crowns that blend into a white background.  Three crowns are the logo worn on the sweaters of the Swedish national hockey team.

But how long does it typically take for a goaltender to come up with his own design?

“Not too long,” says freshman Ryan Massa.  “After I made my decision [that] I was coming to UNO, I kind of started looking into designs right away.”  

“I thought about stuff that had a lot of personal meaning, sentimental meaning to me as well as showing school spirit and having it go well with our uniforms.  I’d have to say probably a month from start to finish.”

Massa showed school spirit by having the designer put the Maverick head on top surrounded by a circle that says ‘Nebraska Omaha’ and a left side that says ‘Mavericks.”  John Faulkner went a step further and had the clock tower put on his mask from the chin all the way up to the crest of the head.

“I gotta be honest; to start off I’m definitely not the most artistic person in the world, but you always wanna do something that relates to the team,” Faulkner said.  “I thought that (the clock tower) was a well-known figure of the university and just kept it with the team with the Maverick head in the background.”

Regardless of how different the designs may be, each of the four included some kind of tribute to someone or something personal.  Massa has a ‘33′ on the back as a tribute to his favorite goaltender growing up, Patrick Roy.

Bergman has his Swedish references and Faulkner put a Canadian flag on the back as a sign of his roots.  Belfour’s entire mask might be considered a tribute to his father.

But unlike his teammates, Belfour will not include any reference to his team or anything about the school.  He says it’s bad luck.

“I don’t know if I’ll make a team helmet.  I’ve never really done that,” Belfour said.  I did it one time and the season didn’t go to well, so I’m kind of against it.”

“I’m not against showing the colors of my team, but as soon as I put my team on the helmet it backfires.  Call it superstition, call it whatever you will, I’m not into it.”

Belfour understands that there might be an expectation for him to someday include an eagle on his helmet.  He said he wore it when he was younger and he wore it with a lot of pride.

But he also understands that anytime someone sees an eagle on a helmet they think of his father.  Just like his father he wants to establish something that acknowledges his own identity.

“I’d like to establish that kind of recognition for myself someday and come up with a cool logo, cool emblem, cool animal,” Belfour said.  “Whatever it’s gonna be, I’d like to be known for it.”

“I think the eagles are probably one of the coolest things to throw on a helmet.  And if I can find something that’s very symbolic like that and intimidating, I’d love to put it on the helmet and keep it going.”

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