Nicole Hensley brings back trademark Team USA look for Olympics
Two years ago, Team USA goaltender and Colorado native Nicole Hensley broke onto the forefront of the international hockey scene when she recorded a shutout in her national team debut at the 2016 World Championships.
Her impressive feat, which came at the tail end of an iconic four-year campaign with Lindenwood University, earned her a spot as one of Team USA’s regular starters for the 2017 competitive season – and she made waves with some pretty eye-catching patriotic gear.
This year, she’s back with another set of hard-to-forget striped pads, but that’s not the only thing she’s bringing back as she heads to the 2018 Winter Olympics next month. Her national team mask, designed by Quebecois mask artist Sylvie Marsolais of Sylabrush, will bring back last year’s theme with a new twist.
Marsolais explained to InGoal that the mask for the winter games is based on last year’s design, which was a huge hit along with her pads:
“Last season,” Marsolais wrote, “we painted Nicole’s team USA mask and we matched her design to her pads. Her pad’s graphics were very unique and flashy! Big vertical stripes, all red, white, and blue.”
This year, the hard-to-miss pads are back, and so is the striped theme on the mask; moving forward, Marsolais and Hensley hope to make the gear combination a trademark look.
This year, though, the pair made a few changes.
“Nicole wanted the lines thinner than her previous mask,” said Marsolais, “and she also wanted the team logo on both sides of the mask. We wanted to create a similar visual effect with the lines in the middle of the mask, and the lines from the team logo.”
Sure enough, this year’s design takes the concept of last year, and incorporates the Team USA logo to create more of a flag-inspired effect.
The stripes have become more sophisticated as well, using gradient coloring to fade the design from a navy on the top of the mask to red by the chin. It’s subtle and seamless, and the placement of the colors follows the team logo to keep the new theme uniform and clean-looking.
Marsolais kept the design simple. Apart from a greyscale bald eagle on the mask’s right side and the Statue of Liberty (also in greyscale) on the left, layered behind the team logo, there’s nothing to detract from the overall concept. Add in an almost-exclusively matte finish to the lid (the only parts of the mask that Marsolais used chrome paint were the pair of shield logos, helping them to pop out a bit), and it’s yet another piece from the Canadian artist that lets the little details speak for themselves.
Hensley added a subtle tribute to both her home town of Denver and her current city of St. Louis, Missouri, on the backplate, where Marsolais painted matching skylines to break up the stripes about halfway down.
Courtesy of Sylabrush, here’s a few more angles of the design:
This season will be Hensley’s first trip to the Olympics, where she’ll make up a brand-new Olympic tandem for the American roster with newcomer Maddie Rooney and four-time World Championships gold medal winner Alex Rigsby.
So far this year, Hensley has the lowest save percentage of the trio in international competition, but her prior international play in medal-winning games speaks for itself. She, along with Rigsby and Rooney, make up one of the most powerful netminding tandems in international hockey heading into the Olympics.