Rock supergroup Audioslave may have broken up in 2007 but they remain number one to new University of North Dakota goaltender Clarke Saunders.
Saunders, who had never had a painted mask until this beauty arrived from talented Montreal artist David Leroux, told InGoal recently, “I was ecstatic when I first saw it. I thought that David did an amazing job with the idea that I gave him. I am one of the least artistic people on this planet, so I pretty much just told him to do what he thought would look best.”
He may not be artistic but Saunders knows what he likes and his favorite band had to be there. “I chose an Audioslave theme for my helmet because I wanted something no one else had really done before. They are by far my favourite band, and I thought it would be a pretty cool concept. I listen to a few of their songs before every game, and if you know me well enough you will find I am kind of obsessed with one of their songs. In a way having the band on my helmet reminds me of all the times in the locker room with the guys.”
Saunders has come to UND this season as a transfer from the University of Alabama-Huntsville where he first played coming out of junior hockey in Brockville, Ontario. Just as his favourite music reminds him of times with his teammates, when we asked Saunders about his best hockey memory – expecting to hear about the time he scored in junior hockey – he instead told us of a time he didn’t even get to play. Injury forced him to the bench but still he told us that his best memory was “watching my junior team compete in the Royal Bank Cup. I blew out my knee during the playoffs and not being able to play was pretty tough on me. Watching my teammates compete in the National Championship was something I will always remember.”
It sounds like Saunders will be a popular man in the UND room this season.
His love for music has led to yet another great helmet from David Leroux, whose bold and distinctive style is liked by goalies everywhere. Last season Leroux turned heads with the second helmet he painted for Chicago Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery and we look forward to Emery’s new mask which is in Leroux’s studio now.
What’s in store for Saunder’s helmet next season? We’re guessing it won’t be a tribute to the song Saunders told us people would be surprised to find on his iPod. ”I’m a Bit** by Merideth Brooks might be one of those songs. I just really like it, and I realize I will take some heat for that one.”
His teammates might have a bit of good-natured fun with that - but here’s betting they’ll love the new helmet as much as they appreciate Clarke Saunders’ presence in the UND net this season.