The grandfather clock slowly strikes one…two…three times. Moonlight sifts down from high above the Swiss mountains, but only one ray seeps through the small windowsill of the Airxess mask studio. Another all-nighter for Alec Voggel? Yes, the loyal mask artist for Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller is at it again.
Part mad scientist, part airbrush alchemist, Alec sits on his stool totally motionless, staring deep into a pool of black paint that mirrors the star-stained abyss of the frigid sky over Bern.
In the warm corner of his small chalet, he’s perfectly still. But his mind and his heart is racing. This is the moment of truth for the masterful mask creator. From the custom molding to the design mapping to the final cage mounting, everything has been executed meticulously. Calligraphic in form, the painstaking, intricate process of fabricating another new mask for Switzerland’s finest goaltender has finally dried.
And now is the moment of truth; revealing the finished design.
In dark tranquility, the latest Tornado Hiller Edition Evo-1 mask slowly turns on it’s wooden pedestal. Shadows dance around the helmet like little black devils, poking it with sharp tridents and condemning it with twisted grins. The mask is truly “alive” under the sheet of the night’s darkness, like a pulsating, lobotomized brain under the watchful eye of a skilled surgeon.
This mask, unlike the one before it, must make up for lost time. The Ducks have been losing. The head coach has been replaced. The locals are angry. The team’s mission is failing. And time is of the essence.
Voggel’s last project for Hiller was infused with a powerful message based in white light. It not only promoted a charitable cancer-fighting cause through the Movember movement, it was a rare white-based mask that honored all of his teammates. Without a doubt, it was the first of its kind, and It was the last of its kind. It will never again be duplicated.
In a chaotic world where dark and light battle constantly, the good spirits surrounding the mask brought no “puck luck” to Hiller and his teammates. In four short weeks, it had gone from a beacon of glory to being the scapegoat for the teams scary play.
If true, that is unacceptable. The Movember mask was a wonderful idea for a wonderful cause, but it did coincide with a full month worth of frustration, inconsistency, and impotence. And so it became known as the anti-mask, and it wasn’t going to last a day into December.
Goaltenders get it. We know this world is full of superstitions. At any moment, these powerful forces are infused and injected into our skin like a permanent tattoo. The “marks” stain us forever, and we can’t get rid of them, even if we try. They become a part of who we are as goalies, and they are followed and respected with a taint of fear.
With the power to create a new superstition on Voggel’s fingertips, he knew the moment was just right. It was time to reverse and transform Hiller’s famine into fortune by unleashing the latest mask in a line of legendary Anaheim Ducks designs: Wild Wing.
Instead of paying homage to his teammates, Hiller is now honoring the official Ducks mascot. As you can see, he’s striking quite the intimidating pose on either side of the mask, breaking out from underneath the shards and remnants of Hiller’s old “Batman” black-matted mask.
With the moonlight now splashing over the mask, it reveals another job performed to perfection. It is complete. It has been revealed. Off to sleep, just one last task to complete before the moonlight wanes and the fresh sunlight of a new day spills out from behind the distant mountains.
Alec bids farewell to his latest masterpiece by scribbling a note on a sheet of parchment. He quietly slips it under the corner of the mask. Inscribed for my own eyes, a personal message from Alec is the sign I’ve been waiting for.
When he ascends the final creaky stair, I take a deep breath and embrace the cold. Unfazed and focused, I melt into the moonlight and spill like black ink right into the studio’s basement. My footwork is so finesse that, even if he were still standing over Hiller’s new mask, he never would have sensed my presence.
As quick as I enter, I take the note, I snap the photos, and I rescind back into the night. Goalie scout’s honor, I present you with these authentic and exclusive images of the same mask Hiller will be wearing beginning next week! When the artist’s job was complete, he left a message behind.
With my job as the scout finished as well, I too, leave a message behind. To Hiller, to Alec and his team at Airxess, to Ducks fans, to goalies everywhere, and to all of you who took the time to read this:
The power needed to achieve great things is found in many places throughout this world. You just have to know where to look. So may your luck change only for the better, and always when you need it most. Amidst the beauty of this new mask, a small golden dove rests on the backplate. This is the message that matters, as even in times of pure darkness, there is the potential for peace and prosperity.