It goes without saying that financial constraints and tight budgets impact all areas of the women's game. Goalie masks are no different. A custom paint job can cost upwards of $1,000, not including the cost of the mask itself.
Despite the prohibitions, an increasing number of goaltenders in Finland’s Naisten Liiga and Sweden’s SDHL are getting in on the action and using their masks to showcase their personalities and passions to the world.
First up in what will hopefully become a series about Nordic women’s goalie masks is Vilma Vaattovaara of Ilves Naiset.
Her mask was painted by Aki Ojala of Wall Masks. As Vaattovaara shows, the side showcases the classic Ilves (“lynx” in Finnish) logo with the team colors green and yellow prominently featured. The other side is a lynx paw, claws shredding the white background like Ilves has been shredding their competition.
For the backplate, Vaattovaara chose the iconic leaping orca from Free Willy.
She told The Ice Garden,
“The story behind Free Willy is that I was obsessed with whales as a kid, and am still in love with them. Basically it serves as a mental reset for me during games.”
Vaattovaara is currently third among Naisten Liiga goaltenders with a .934 save percentage. Willy may just be her lucky charm.