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Behind The Mask: Sabina Eriksson

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Pride, personality, and Optimus Prime? Yes indeed.

Sabina Eriksson on the ice with HV71 in October 2017.
David Wreland / Jnytt

Next up in our Behind The Mask series is Sabina Eriksson of HV71 in the SDHL. Her gorgeous sapphire-toned mask is a story in blue that blends her fortitude as a person with the pride she carries for her club. It’s a beauty.

Eriksson’s mask was painted by fellow Swede David Gunnarsson, also known as DaveArt. Gunnarsson’s multidimensional and hyper-detailed style has made him the most sought-after artist across many of the world’s most famous hockey leagues, and his client list reads like a who’s-who of elite goaltenders. Among them was longtime HV71 men’s netminder Stefan Liv.

That connection is important to Eriksson, who reached out to Gunnarsson with an email “about myself, who I am, and me as a goalie...now, when I have been in HV71 for six seasons it means even more to me to know that David painted Liv’s mask, and also mine.”

SC Bern v HV71 Jonkoping - IIHF Champions Hockey League
Stefan Liv of HV71 in action in 2008.
Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images

Liv died on September 7, 2011 in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl tragedy. The number 1 inside one of the five stars on Eriksson’s mask is a tribute to his jersey number, retired by the club in 2012.

Eriksson explained, “One of the most important things for the design was to have Liv’s number 1 on it. I wanted to honor him in my way. No matter what, he will always be number 1 in HV71, and one of the stars the HV71 always will carry with us.”

While the right side of her mask focuses on her team with the HV71 emblem in contrasting shades of blue, the left side is where Eriksson lets her personality shine. Her jersey number 88 shares space with the one and only Optimus Prime from Transformers. He’s shown in both of his forms: the unassuming semi truck and the proud leader of the Autobots. Eriksson is a big fan of the Transformers movie franchise, and the ability to become something more really resonates with her.

David Gunnarsson / Flickr

”When I got the opportunity to have my mask painted by David, I wanted to do something that matters to me,” she said.

“For us girls, it’s tough to be a hockey player in many ways. Sometimes I feel like a Transformer that goes from being a girl [who has to] work 100% or educate 100% to survive and then put all the goalie gear on, stop pucks and practice hard every day to be better, and also be a leader for the team and every day show the way!”

HV71’s next game is Saturday January 20 against Brynäs.