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Braden Holtby Makes Save Without His Mask

Braden Holtby Makes Save Without His Mask

No, you haven’t traveled back in time to the 1960s, but Braden Holtby’s save in the final minute of his game against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night may bring back a few memories of that time.

Holtby was bumped into after making an initial save, and a stick came up – knocking the mask off his head. Play continued, and Kris Russell skated in from the point to pick up the rebound. Holtby reacted by throwing himself in front of the puck, even though his face was fully exposed!


Luckily for Holtby and the Capitals, the shot was fairly low and hit him in the pants. If it was higher, it could have been a very scary situation.

Unfortunately the whistle did blow because of the mask coming off, only moments prior to Russell’s shot being released. As a result, it did not go into the books as an official shot on goal, but we’ll give Holtby credit for it anyway.

The last NHL goaltender to willingly play without a mask was Andy Brown, who played his final game on April 7, 1974. He would go on to play three more season in the WHA, however.

This also brings up memories from last season when John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks almost took a Steven Stamkos slapshot to the face. His mask was bumped off by his own teammate in that situation, and it was a very close call as the puck struck the mask as it was falling off his head.

The moral of the story? Goalies, make sure your mask is fitting properly! Even though referees are trained to blow the play dead immediately when it comes off, shots can still get through. Players today shoot harder than ever before, so there’s no telling what kind of damage may occur if one actually gets through and hits a goalie in the face.

For a full video of the play, watch below.

About The Author

Greg Balloch

Greg Balloch is a Vancouver-based writer for InGoal Magazine, broadcaster for Sportsnet 650, and goaltending coach. His career began in Hamilton, Ontario with the Junior 'A' Hamilton Red Wings, before moving to Vancouver to cover the Canucks on the radio and work with the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. A lifelong goaltender, he has been teaching the position for over a decade.