There was no shortage of irony and symbolism in the timing of Eric Comrie getting his new mask for the upcoming 2013-14 season, especially since it features the return of Captain America as the primary image.
Painted for Comrie once again by Alberta-based artist Jason Bartziokas, the bold red-white-and-blue design is clearly a play on the name the promising young goaltender’s junior team, the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League. But the USA-heavy lid arrives just as Comrie, who was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets 59th overall earlier this summer, is taking part in World Junior Championship evaluation tournament for Team Canada, which is taking place in Lake Placid, New York.
If Comrie’s new NHL team and Canadian World Junior aspirations make a saluting Captain America seem somewhat ironic – Comrie even lives in Newport Beach, California after being born in Edmonton – the situation behind his return makes the mask somewhat fitting if you know the back story of its main character, which includes physical enhancement and making a triumphant after coming out of mothballs.
Comrie had surgery in early February on both of his hips – hip surgery, including an eventual replacement, ended the 10-year NHL career of his half-brother, Mike – but returned for his first game since the operations earlier this week against Finland, overcoming a first-shot goal to make 37 saves in a 5-3 win for Team Canada that impressed national program goaltending consultant Sean Burke.
“I really liked the mental side of it,” Burke told NHL.com after the win. “A kid who hasn’t played since January, he came out, got scored on on the first shot and was outstanding for us. He made some key saves, really battled hard in that game. He’s got a very good game technically. He’s a kid that with a couple injuries he had last year hasn’t had a lot of playing time, and yet seemed really sharp for that situation. I really liked what I’ve seen with his game.”
Everyone is going to like what they see in Comrie’s new mask, which continues the theme Bartziokas began last season, with some new design twists.
“Eric gave me full artistic freedom once again. I pitched a couple ideas and went to work on the sketches,” said Bartziokas, who included samples of his original sketches below. “I spent a day just looking for reference and drawing out the figure on the left side. The key for me painting a mask is surrounding myself with good reference. And having a good game plan by creating a sketch as a blue print. I saw pictures of Eric in last seasons mask and thought the Top part of the mask being dark and the chin area white went really well with both sets of jerseys and wanted to continue that feel. But made it more stream line this year by creating horizontal lines and patterns, it’s a little less chaotic then the first one in terms of Star placement.”
The results (in full size) below are bold and stunning. After enjoying them, you can check our more work by Bartziokas on his Facebook Page as well as on Instagram. He doesn’t have a company website but said he can be reached through Faecbook, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter.