As it often happens, the Vancouver Canucks secured their win on Tuesday in dramatic fashion.
But last night, there was a certain piece of flair on the ice that held a special local appeal.
Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko not only made his NHL Playoff debut Tuesday evening against the Vegas Golden Knights, but also garnered the Canucks a 2-1 win with 42 incredible saves – all while wearing a mask created by an artist from right here in Victoria.
Travis Michael is a local airbrush artist that has been creating custom goalie masks for 7 years through his company TM Kustoms.
Along with big names like Demko, he’s also designed creations for other well-known goalies, such as beloved former Victoria Royals’ goaltender Griffen Outhouse.
Many goalies take pride in designing their face protection, and look forward to showcasing their unique mask art on a nightly basis – back-up goalie Thatcher Demko is no different.
And for the 2020 season, he had some very specific ideas in mind.
Artist Travis Michael tells Victoria Buzz that Demko kind of wanted to split the mask down the middle – one half paid homage to the western Canada, with the Rockies, Haida art and even an orca faded into the background.
The other half of the mask injected a little bit of humour – it features Demko’s signature “Evil” Johnny Canuck, as well as Will Ferrell on the back, which has been included in each of his masks thus far.
“This could be my only mask in the NHL; I wanted to be able to showcase everything that I can do,” Travis says in response to the design.
The Canucks goalie contacted the Victoria artist after the team attended training camp at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre this past fall.
The Victoria Royals passed on Travis’ name to the Canucks’ equipment manager Pat O’Neill, and that’s when the mask-making partnership was formed.
“I think 10 year old me would freak out. We grew up playing hockey and watching all these games. This is the top; there’s no better feeling than this,” Travis told Victoria Buzz.
24-year old Demko’s first career playoff start came with the Canucks’ season on the line; as game 5 saw the Golden Knights up 3-1 in the series, it was do or die for Vancouver last night.
He was tested heavily, but the rookie goalie was up for the challenge, and should the Canucks’ number one Jacob Markstrom remain out with a reported groin injury, it is likely Demko will start game 6 as well.
We don’t know about you, but we’re looking forward to more Canucks wins, more Demko starts, and more glimpses of that sweet mask.
You can check out more of Travis’ designs on his Instagram page.