Saving in style: Gophers goalies’ masks

by Ben Gotz

One of the best ways to get to know Minnesota goaltenders is through their masks.

Goalies on both the men’s and women’s teams get custom masks when they step on campus, courtesy of Miska Designs, a company based in Stacy, Minn.

The designs the six netminders selected reflect different facets of their personalities, giving them each a unique look in one of the most unique positions in sports.

Few have the courage to stand back and let opponents rifle pucks at them, play after play.

But these six goalies stand alone on campus with the willingness to do so. The job comes with one special perk: They look good while doing it.



Adam Wilcox

When junior Adam Wilcox skates between the pipes, his helmet straddles the line between a hockey and superhero mask.

 “My uncle kind of thought of it,” Wilcox said of his Iron Man mask. “I said, ‘Yeah, it might look pretty cool,’ so I just threw it on there and ended up sticking with it.”

Wilcox has stuck with the look throughout his three years with Minnesota, but the rest of his mask has undergone changes.

He changed the background color of his helmet from maroon to gold in order to be more visible.

He also added a dinosaur to his back plate instead of an “M” logo.

“It was just kind of something from my childhood,” Wilcox said. “That was kind of my favorite thing growing up.”

Ryan Coyne

When it came to inspiration for his mask, junior Ryan Coyne had to turn no further than his iPod.

The lettering across the front of his mask matches the lettering of the band Metallica.

“I’m a big Metallica fan,” Coyne said. “I have like all of their albums. That’s pretty much the inspiration behind that.”

The lightning designs on Coyne’s mask are inspired by the rock band as well. Coyne said the designer based the look off the group’s album “Ride the Lightning.”

Another unique feature of Coyne’s mask is the gold cage, an idea he borrowed from NHL goaltenders, like the Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask.

 One feature that Coyne has kept throughout his three years on campus is the back plate, which features the gopher from the movie Caddyshack.

“It kind of keeps everything in perspective,” Coyne said. “I take hockey pretty seriously and everything, but it’s still a game. You’ve got to have some fun.”

Nick Lehr

A change in location has led to a switch in style for freshman Nick Lehr, who exchanged his plain black mask in junior hockey for a more intricate one with the Gophers.

“It’s super cool,” Lehr said. “Especially representing Minnesota, the state where I came from. Now to play for the Gophers, it’s pretty cool to have a helmet that represents that.”

Lehr put the state of Minnesota on the back of his helmet, as well as the three places he has played: his high school, his junior team and Minnesota.

“They [played] big roles in my life,” Lehr said. “Each has had a significant impact in how I’ve gotten here today.”

And since he’s been on campus, Lehr said he’s enjoyed himself.

“Freshman year has been a lot of fun,” Lehr said. “It’s cool; it’s close to home. And so far, I love it.”



Amanda Leveille

Two things Amanda Leveille  loves are her homeland of Canada and the Gophers’ mascot, “Goldy.”

When she designed her mask, she decided to combine the two in a unique way.

“My favorite part is Goldy standing in [former Montreal Canadiens goalie] Ken Dryden’s stance,” Leveille said. “I’ve always been a huge [Canadiens] fan, so it’s nice to have a little bit of them on my helmet without having red.”

Leveille also added the Canadian flag and a moose to her helmet as a tribute to her native country.

While the front and sides of her helmet pay tribute to Canada, her back pays homage to more personal things.

In 2010, Leveille’s hockey coach had a daughter who committed suicide.

Part of the back of her helmet honors the coach’s daughter and a foundation in her memory that brings awareness to youth mental health.

“That is something that is really important to me and the girls back home,” Leveille said.

Sidney Peters

When redshirt freshman Sidney Peters arrived in Minneapolis, she got the chance to accomplish one of her childhood dreams — completely design her own helmet.

“When I was a kid, I was in love with the idea of designing [my] own equipment,” Peters said. “When you put the gear on, you just turn into this monster.”

Peters said she kept her helmet basic so that people could tell what the design is from the stands.

The back of the helmet, like with two other women’s hockey goalies, has significant personal meaning with a Bible verse from Ephesians written out.

“It talks about putting on God’s armor, and it is metaphorical to hockey,” Peters said. “It is just a reminder to me that when I am out here, I am playing not just for myself.”

Shyler Sletta

Senior goalie Shyler Sletta considers herself a talented graphic designer — talented enough to play a major role in designing all three helmets.

“I helped out Amanda, and Sid doesn’t like to admit it, but I helped her out, too,” Sletta said.

Sletta is also close friends with designer Todd Miska’s two sons, so she had the opportunity to complete nearly the entire design process herself.

As the only goalie on the Gophers roster who grew up in Minnesota, Sletta decided to put trees along the top of her helmet.

Like Leveille, Sletta has a daisy on the back of her helmet to honor someone she knows that passed away.

“My neighbor growing up was diagnosed with brain cancer, and she passed away,” Sletta said.

“Every spring we used to plant daisies together, so I wanted to put that on my helmet.”