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Given the popularity of his Jets-logo pads and gloves, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that our Ask a Pro with Winnipeg goaltender Chris Mason quickly turned into a review of his unique Brian’s Sub-Zero equipment.
As the only goalie wearing the new line in the NHL, Mason is the perfect person to ask how the Sub-Zeros have held up, especially the revolutionary Velcro-based strapping system that helps the pads achieve their incredible light weight. That made this sit-down with Mason an ideal follow up to InGoal’s initial review of the Sub-Zero in the inaugural digital magazine.
The answers bode well for those who already bought into on the Sub-Zero hype, including the fact he delayed breaking out the “Jets” pads only because his first set was holding up so well before finally giving in to the pressure to debut the popular new-look pads (That delay also gave Mason time to get a great new mask from EyeCandyAir that perfectly matches the pads). But they aren’t the only great responses.
In addition to questions about the team-logoed gear, the personable and popular veteran talked about his championship stint in Norway during the NHL lockout, and how it actually helped him prepare for the evolving NHL when he returned, how he prepares on a game day, and the key to reading pucks off sticks.
As you read Mason’s thoughts, be sure to check out the initial InGoal review of the Sub-Zero line. And if you aren’t reading this through our newsletter, it means you aren’t getting it first, so be sure to sign up for the free weekly email, which includes the chance to post questions to other NHL goalies. And be sure to “like” InGoal on Facebook for more chances to ask questions of the top pros – like the questions Carey Price answered for us last week, an interview that will be published in next week’s newsletter and in the April magazine.
In the meantime, enjoy Chris Mason, one of the NHL’s best guys:
InGoal Facebook fan Scott Christensen asks, “how was playing Norway during the lockout? Differences, overall experience and how’d he decide to go there?”
Chris Mason: “I loved it. The year previous was my first year in the NHL and I really wanted to play somewhere, and just get the playing time, and I had the opportunity to go there. And obviously with the rink being different, the style of play is a little more about smaller players, good skaters, and a lot of good skill on the bigger ice surface. So it was definitely an adjustment with the angles and the east-west was longer. And then coming back to the NHL with the new rules and a more open game, I definitely think the need to be patient over there helped coming back. You can’t get locked in and stuck on your knees a lot because they hold on and they look for that extra pass, and the way the NHL is now, guys aren’t coming down the wing and just blasting it at the net and driving any more. They’ve got their heads up and they are looking for trailers and plays across the ice, so it’s been a huge change the last five-six years.”
InGoal reader Derek Labossiere asks, “What are you pre-game warm-ups/ routines? They both seem so focused early in games.”
Chris Mason: “If I am playing I will go back and eat always at the same time and try to get my nap in the afternoon around about 2 o’clock for 45 minutes to an hour max. I like to get to the rink about three hours before a game, watch a little tape, and sometimes I’ll watch some shootout tape just in case that comes into play. Power play is definitely another focus, but we do a lot of that in the morning as a team, look at a lot of end-zone and set up and things like that. That’s definitely valuable information for a goaltender.”
InGoal follow up: do you use any hand-eye co-ordination exercises pre-game?
Chris Mason: “At home we play table tennis. We have a ping-pong table in the hallway at the MTS Center and I really think that does help with hand-eye so we do that before every game. But I’ll also ride the bike for 10 minutes to get the blood flowing and stretch after that, and that’s pretty well it. And I’ll just go sit in stall about 10 minutes before I take a shower and do some visualization. I just kind of simulate plays in my head, follow them around the zone, and just try to see the way pucks are coming off guy’s sticks and things like that.”
InGoal: Your former goalie coach in Nasville, Mitch Korn, has talked to InGoal in the past about that ability to read pucks off a shooter’s stick as something you’ve always done well. Is it something you can work to improve or innate?
Chris Mason: “I definitely think the anticipation and ability to read the body language and just the way the hands are positioned and things like that – when you are on as a goalie I think that’s one of the keys, reading pucks off sticks – because goalies make saves sometimes that there’s no way they should be able to and that’s partially anticipation and you know where he’s shooting because of the way his stick looks. But of course the good players are good at hiding that and changing it at the last second. It’s definitely a skill you can work on.”
InGoal reader Logan Angus asks: “Obviously the inspiration for his custom graphic sub zeroes came from the Jets logo, but did he come up with the idea to put it on his pads? or did Brians or somebody else approach him with the idea?”
Chris Mason: “I called them just to tell him kind of what I was thinking and asked if we could do something with the Jets logo because I just thought it’s really symmetrical and I thought it would look great on a pair of pads, and they sent me an email with six different templates of different ideas and that was the one I chose.”
Facebook fan Nick Toncheff asks: “The Sub-Zeros, do you feel the strapping system on the pads has helped your game?” (InGoal also asked how the straps have held up)
Chris Mason: “I haven’t had to change the Velcro straps on either set. I mean it’s easy if you wanted to change the strapping, you just pull them out, but I’ve had no reason to change them at all, they’ve been great. The Velcro stood up perfectly. I used that first set of pads for quite a long time, probably a lot longer than most guys would use one set of pads, and it was perfectly fine when I changed. I just wanted to use the new stuff. I really wanted to get into them, but my other ones were still sturdy, they felt great, and I honestly probably could have kept wearing them all year if I wanted to. I don’t usually go through a lot of pads like some guys, but I can easily do two, three pairs a year, I’ve done that in the past, but this year I definitely could have gone longer in the first set of pads, but I really wanted to get into these (Jets logo) pads and I was getting a lot of pressure from the guys.”
InGoal reader Louis-Quentin Dubé asks: “Does the Sub-Zero taper at the boot limit the seal to the ice or is the seal unaffected due to pad rotation? And how does the mesh in the leg channel hold up on the Sub-Zero?”
Chris Mason: “The first set I had I think was a 78-degree taper and wanted the toe a little more square and the next set they squared it off (to an 84-degree taper) and I just preferred that a lot better. It kind of seals the ice a little more and when you are sticking your leg out making that toe save it just feels like you have more pad on the ice. But I still felt like I had a good seal through the rest of the pad in both angles, and the knee stacks are pretty good too, and I feel like they cut down the five hole.”
InGoal: And the mesh inside leg channel?
Chris Mason: “It’s held up great and it’s so comfortable. This whole pad, is a little lighter weight, and it’s held up so well. When I first put these pads on in the summer, I knew that I was going to make the switch because they felt so good. Usually when I put on a pair of pads it takes me a while to get comfortable but I put these on and right away they felt like they cradled my leg and felt so good.”
InGoal Facebook fan ChristianAllan Lim ?asks: “Do you guys have any mods on your C/A? If so, what are they? And what model c/a do you guys use? Thx!!”
Chris Mason: “Brian’s just sent me their stock new Sub-Zero chest protector and I liked it so I didn’t have to change anything.”