By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A
goalkeeper's helmet is far more than just a piece of safety equipment worn
during each game. Instead, a goalkeeper's helmet represents individuality and
all the things they hold close, acting as a personal canvas.
For Penn State men's
hockey's three goalies, the process of designing a helmet took each one of them
in a different direction but each one started in the same place with the same
person. The team's equipment manager, Adam Sheehan, is tasked with initiating
the process, handling the logistics while giving them suggestions and ideas or
helping with sketches.
"I tell [Sheehan] what I
want to do and he gives me his ideas back, so it's not all me or all him," sophomore
goalie Peyton Jones said.
Another key figure in
the early parts of the design stage, is typically painter Jason Livery, head of
Head Strong Grafx. A custom painter for 28 years, Livery traveled all over the
world before creating his own custom goalie helmet painting business.
"Once we get the ideas
from the goaltender my designer creates a pre-paint rendering of what all the
elements will look like on the mask," Livery said. "Once they approve it, I
paint it based on that rendering. I might change it and add is some elements of
my own style but for the most part it will be pretty close to the rendering."
The often intricate
masks fans see each goalie sporting this season are special to all of them, but
each for unique and individual reasons. For some, the first of a few helmets,
but for others it's either the only or the last helmet they'll ever have for
the rest of their career in Hockey Valley.
Fortunately for Nittany
Lion fans, this is only Jones' first gameday helmet, which means he'll get one
more with two more seasons in net. Not only was this Jones' first helmet of his
Penn State career, but the first helmet he has ever had a hand in creating for
"I went online right
away looking at different things different goalies did," Jones said. "This was
my first real helmet I designed and it was pretty special to me because it was
a school that I dreamed of going to."
For senior goalie Matt
Erlichman, his helmet is his first as well as his last. The Pennsylvania native
joined the team his junior year after playing two years
with Penn State's ACHA Division II Ice Lions.
Joining the team late, his mask junior year
looked similar to those around him, but for his senior year when asked if he
wanted a custom helmet, it was a no-brainer.
"[Sheehan] asked me if I
wanted a helmet and I said, 'Yeah, I'd love a helmet, I never had actually had
a helmet designed,'" Erlichman said. "I just started throwing some things
together, looking at different helmets."
Junior goalie Chris
Funkey was on the opposite end of the spectrum from his teammates, with his
current helmet being the last of his college career. With a passion Penn State
evident on all three masks, Funkey knew he had a few adjustments he wanted
to make headed into the process off designing his current helmet to make it better
than his last.
"I didn't want to do as
much for myself for the helmet as I wanted to do for the university," Funkey
said. "So I definitely wanted to make sure I fashioned in some important
In addition to the
multiple Penn State logos on his helmet, Funkey wanted to do something to make
his last helmet even more special. On the chin, Funkey's helmet is painted with temperature magic FX paint which shifts color in temperatures less
than 65 degrees, revealing hidden snowflakes and an image of the historic
Nittany Lion Shrine.
Funkey is among a group of very goalkeepers in
all of college hockey and even the NHL with temperature magic FX paint
technology on his helmet.
Inspiration Behind the Mask
Many young goaltenders
grow up watching hockey, dreaming of the day they will have their own custom
helmet like the pros they watch on TV or from the stands.
While some look to professional goalies for inspiration,
some find it in their own locker room.
For Funkey, his helmet is modeled after former Penn State goalie and his own
former mentor, Matthew Skoff (2012-16).
"[Skoff] had the toque
version of the helmet where it looks like a winter hat and I thought that was
really cool," Funkey said. "I wanted to get that to honor him being one of the
first Division I Penn State goalies for four years."
Penn State's two other
goalkeepers though, decided to look a little farther outside of Hockey Valley
Every young goalie has a
role model at the professional level they watch and try to emulate, not only in
their style of play, but also in their mask design. Jones looks to one of the
best in the world who happens to be a five-time NHL all-star and an Olympic
"My favorite goalie is
Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and on a lot of his helmets he puts the
laces of the jersey," Jones said. "So on my helmet, that's one thing I wanted
On the front part of the
chin is where Jones chose to put the jersey laces on his helmet.
Things were no different
for Erlichman, who looked to the same goalies he had been admiring for years
when it came time to design his helmet.
"I always loved [Sergei]
Bobrovsky's because he was my favorite goalie in the NHL and Tuukka Rask just
because all his helmets are awesome," Erlichman said. "I based the helmet off
inspiration from the classic brick wall design from Bobrovsky's old-style
helmets, adding a bit of a twist. What looks like drops of spray paint all over
the brick wall were added to shake up the traditional design.
All three goalies utilize their own mask to tell their own individual story,
including things they hold close, opting to showcase these elements on the back
plate of their helmets. While the elements might not be on full display all the
time, they are always close.
Funkey's back plate
showcases a Penn State tradition very dear to many students on campus, THON.
With Funkey's busy hockey schedule, being a part of the 46-hour dance marathon
can be a challenge. With THON weekend typically taking place in the middle of
the season, it is not always a guarantee he can attend.
Fortunately, last year, the Illinois native was given the opportunity to attend THON with
some of his teammates, an experience he will never forget.
"We were there for the
last 15 or 16 hours and it was honestly a really life changing experience,"
Funkey said. "I just couldn't think of a better way or a better thing to
represent the school than by putting the four diamonds of THON on the back of
Jones' back plate honors
two friends and teammates, Eric "Ebo" Eberling and Alexander "Zander" Thomas,
who he lost his senior year of high school.
"My two buddies are on
the back who are the most special to me," Jones said. "I put that on the back
of my helmet to have them with me every time that I play."
Accompanying the numbers
of his friends is a quote that reads, "Life is not measured by the years you
live, but the lives you touch."
For Erlichman, playing on the varsity hockey
team was a goal he was hoping to reach before his time was up in Hockey Valley.
Finally achieving his dream, it's been a surreal experience and he knew he
wanted to make his team and school the focal point of his back plate.
"I wanted something more
Penn State than just a logo, and I went with the Lion Shrine," Erlichman said.
hand-drawn version of the Lion Shrine is also Erlichman's nickname "Lichsy"
which former teammate Vince Pedrie gave him just weeks into his junior season.
"I got that nickname
from the team a few weeks into the season when I walked into the locker room
and Vince Pedrie looks at me and goes, 'Has anyone ever called you Lichsy?"
Erlichman said. "I was throw off completely because it doesn't really come from
Needless to say the
nickname has stuck around since, representing a special memory Erlichman will
always carry with him on and off the ice.
After spending weeks on the design process
followed by months of painting and waiting, the moment a goalie sees their mask
for the first time is truly a magical one. All those long practices and
conditioning sessions somehow seem worth it when a goalie gets to hold their
mask for the first time.
Even though almost every one of the team saw
Erlichman's helmet before he had the chance to, it didn't take anything away
from a moment he had been waiting for his whole career
"I was blown away how
great it came out, I couldn't ask anything better," Erlichman said. "I am so
happy I got a helmet and I'm going to keep it forever."
Even though this is
Erlichman's first and only mask Penn State, it will be one he can always keep
to cherish a part of his college career.
Having been through the
process before, Funkey was familiar with the moment having worked hard and waited
for so long for. This time though, there was the bittersweet twist of this
being his last mask, but he found solace in the fact that he got everything he
wanted on his final helmet.
"My jaw dropped, I
couldn't get over how well it came out," Funkey said. "I was like a little kid
on Christmas morning honestly, it was so cool."
Jones has experienced
success in the relatively short time he has been in goal for the Nittany Lions
and his current helmet has stayed with him through the journey. The sophomore
will have a new helmet to start out his junior year which will also be his last
in his college career.
Although getting his current helmet was very special to
him, Jones is already planning for his next one. Just don't expect to get any
insight into what will be on it.
"I do actually have some
stuff but it's a surprise I want to keep for when I get the helmet," Jones