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Berra Sticking in Colorado With New Avalanche Mask?

Berra Sticking in Colorado With New Avalanche Mask?
Reto Berra's new Avs mask by Sylvie Marsolais features the Capitol State monument, and may be a sign he sticks around after a rough season.

Reto Berra’s new Avs mask by Sylvie Marsolais features the Capitol State monument, and may be a sign he sticks around after a rough season (More full-size mask photos below).

It hasn’t been an easy season for Swiss goalie Reto Berra with the Colorado Avalanche.

Acquired in a trade with the Calgary Flames at the NHL Trade Deadline last season and signed to a three-year, $4.35-million contract extension just nine days later, Berra not only spent long stretches watching from the bench, but recently had to endure the indignity of seeing Calvin Pickard called up from the American Hockey League to start ahead of them on the rare nights they wanted to give No.1 Semyon Varlamov a rare night off.

Berra deserves credit for sticking with it amid talk of buying out the final two seasons of a contract that runs through the summer of 2017, and continuing to work hard with goaltending coach Francois Allaire, who wanted to simplify a relatively active game for a 6-foot-4 goaltender. All that hard work paid off when Berra got his first start in four months against the Vancouver Canucks on March 26 and made 33 saves in a 4-1 win, his first since Nov. 6.

Now Berra has a new Avalanche mask from Sylvie Marsolais and Alex Mathys of Sylabrush Airbrush, and after listening to both the goalie and Colorado coach Patrick Roy talk about his recent play, he may still need it next season after all.

“Yes he does,” Roy said when asked if Berra was earning the team’s trust back. “We were talking a lot about him after every practice and I said many times I like the way he has been working and I think he is getting rewarded for it. I’m very happy for him to see this performance. Not only is it going to bring confidence to himself, but I think his teammates are going to look at him and say he’s been working hard and they are proud of him as well.”

The left side of Berra's new mask is also heavy on Colorado themes.

The left side of Berra’s new mask is also heavy on Colorado themes.

Berra reminded reporters this is just his second season in North America, and there is an adjustment.

“I just wanted to prove to myself and the whole team and everyoyd that I can just play in this League,” Berra said, adding he’d worked hard on his puck tracking to “move and find puck” better. “Of course the game is always different than practice. I worked really hard and had some good practices, but it’s different in a game. That helps you a lot more. It was not easy to stay positive but it’s a process and it’s just my second year in the NHL and you are not just going to have ups, you also have downs. It’s a process I go through, I had to learn a couple of things.”

Berra showed incredible athleticism for a goalie of his size during his first season in the Flames organization, and if he can find a balance between a more consistent technical approach under Allaire and that raw ability, the upside remains high.

If Berra does stick around in Colorado beyond this season, his new mask is a perfect fit.

With directions to use white and blue as the primary colors on the new CCM mask, Sylvie Marsolais and Alex Mathys came up with a strong representation of the area that Berra currently calls home:

“We wanted to represent Denver, Colorado,” Marsolais told InGoal. “On the right side you can see the Capitol State monument, which stands out with his gold roofing. On the other side you can see the downtown buildings and all are invaded by stalagmite style ice. For the background we couldn’t miss the famous Colorado rockies.”

The top features an Avalanche logo with “pearl colors,” while the chin retained “the same two paws that they have on their jersey incorporated with his number 20.” On the backplate they combined his family name with some feathers that represent his Swiss family emblem.  It may to be quite as fierce as his last Yeti-themed mask, but Berra’s new lid screams Colorado. Given his work this season and recent appearance, that may be fitting after all.

To see more work from Marsolais and Mathys, visit the Sylabrush web site www.sylabrush.com, or her Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter. But first enjoy these close ups of Berra’s new mask:

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