Meet Hockey’s Grandmaster Mask Maker – SportMask Tour with Tony Priolo
I have been wanting to meet Tony Priolo of Sportmask for some time now. Of course, I was intrigued to learn more about the man who developed the MAGE, about his custom molding and all the pro clientele he works with. The big reason though, that I wanted to meet Tony, was his customer service. I had been reading on the Goalie Store boards one day and saw an amazing story pop up. Tony had let someone take some old defective masks from his shop. He did it on the promise that they never be used and never be sold. Long story short, the guy did sell them. When a buyer contacted Tony because his mask was defective, what did Tony say? He apologized. He said he did not sell it to the guy and in a world where most people would have stopped there (it’s not my problem!) Tony offered – even insisted, because the guy actually wasn’t asking for a new one – to replace the mask. That is standing by your product and providing remarkable service.
Not long ago, I had the opportunity to drop in on Tony at his Sportmask shop in Oakville, Ontario to see the inner-workings of the construction of some of the best masks in the business. Tony and client Tim Thomas created the MAGE that Thomas has worn for years and he counts other pros like Jonathan Quick, Cam Ward and Chris Mason amongst his many satisfied customers.
Please check out the entire photo tour after the break!
Tony is justifiably proud of his work – beginning like many as a goaltending-obsessed youngster he has turned his love of the sport into his passion and his livelihood. I’m sure lots of us have dreamt of getting out the fiberglass and making a new lid – but Tony took that first step long ago and ran with it. He’s no hobbyist in his basement. Tony is a professional who engineers some of the finest masks in the world and prides himself on the best quality control in the business.
I hope you enjoy this photo tour of the Sportmask shop. Take a few minutes to visit Tony’s web site and learn a bit about his great masks.
Tony is proudest of his quality control. He had this “puck cannon” made to fire pucks at new masks and test their integrity. How much can they handle? Check out the steel plate behind the head. When it was first built there was only the steel mesh there. A 400 km/hr flying puck tore through it like butter.
Tony tests masks made from every new batch of materials he receives to be sure his masks are always the best. And yes, he did once send an entire batch of cloth back because a mask didn’t stand up to his testing. His supplier had sent him new cloth from a different (read, offshore) supplier.
A real fan of the game, Tony was excited to learn a client had an original Jacques Plante mask. Tony was allowed to take a mold of the inside of the mask – since the original mask was made from a mold of Plante’s face this cast he made from the mold reveals some of the exact contours and even marks on the legendary goalie’s face.