Vees Miska steps up mask design

Penticton Vees goalie Hunter Miska will have a sharp new look on his face, as will Brendan Barry

Hunter Miska's mask

Hunter Miska's mask

Hunter Miska’s mask design skills are catching up to his puckstopping abilities.

The inspiration for Miska’s new design came from one he had done on his U.S.A. mask.

“I decided I wanted to do it with Penticton because I liked the style of mask,” said Miska, adding that part of the design features the B.C. mountains on the forehead with the Minnesota Wild star.

The mask also has a quote.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them,” said Miska, quoting Walt Disney.

Miska, whose father is Todd Miska of Miska, who has designed masks for NHLers such as Josh Harding, Evgeni Nabokov and Niklas Backstrom, said he kept the design, which also pays tribute to the old V’s, simple.

“I just thought it was kind of cool. Make people really get their eye on it,” said Miska, from his home in Stacy, Minn. “I think it’s a nice retro look. Shows the history of our team, I think it looks nice.”

The finished product turned out better than what Miska sketched on paper. His father did offer a hand with some touches to make it more bold.

Miska also painted a mask for his backup partner, Brendan Barry. The former Okanagan Rockets goalie gave Miska an idea, while keeping it simple.

“He did unreal and I can’t wait to wear it,” said Barry, who liked the idea of getting stripes on it after seeing them on other goalie designs.

Miska showed Barry some sketches and the 16-year-old told him to run with it.

“He designed most of it himself,” said Barry, who has a clover representing his Irish background. “I have got to give the credit to him.”

Painting masks normally takes Miska a few days, but with him also working as a goalie coach for two businesses it took more time to complete his own mask. Miska has been working with younger goalies in private lessons for Pro Hybrid Goaltending and Premier Goaltending.

“It’s fun skating with these little kids and how much they look up to you,” he said. “Just teaching them things you have learned. Try to get them to figure it out.”

As for the 2014-15 season, Miska can’t wait. He will be arriving in Penticton later this month with teammate Riley Alferd.

“I think we’re going to have a great team this year,” he said. “I think we have a really good chance of making it to the RBC Cup. We have a really young group. They have some high skill. I think that is going to be a big part of our game.”

Miska’s mask may attract the attention of many fans as he expects to be the No.1 goalie for the Vees, hoping to play 50 games. In his year-end meeting with Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson, they discussed his play. Miska feels he deserves that role.

Miska is also excited about a new partnership with Barry.

“I really like him a lot,” said Miska. “Kind of quieter. Great goalie too, he works hard.”

Miska hopes the partnership with Barry wins them the BCHL’s Wally Forslund Trophy as the best goaltending duo, a title he shared with Olivier Mantha last season.

Vees notes: The team is seeking billet homes for its players. Anyone interested in becoming a billet family is asked to contact Kevan Scott 250-809-4276.