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HOCKEY: Bemidji State goalies express creativity, heritage through helmet design

The goalie mask has been elevated to an art form, and the helmets that secure the noggins of Bemidji State’s netminders are no exception.

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Bemidji State goaltenders Mattias Sholl, left, and Hannah Hogenson let imagination run wild when designing their helmets.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – Goaltenders can be hermitic by nature.

The nature of the position requires them to be alone in the crease, serving as the final line of defense. They rarely leave the ice during periods, even when skaters maneuver to the bench during media timeouts.

But there is one unique way goalies can express themselves – the colorful, creative designs that adorn their protective helmets. The goalie mask has been elevated to an art form, and the helmets that secure the noggins of Bemidji State’s netminders are no exception.

“Mask designing is something that's super fun to look forward to,” women’s goalie Hannah Hogenson said. “We get two in our career here, so getting a chance to do a second one was really exciting. I know every goalie’s process for figuring out what they want to put on there is different.

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Hannah Hogenson's helmet features details of her Alaskan upbringing.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“I'm pretty visual, so I usually print out a mask template. And then I find inspiration from NHL goalies or stuff that I see on Instagram or social media, pull some different ideas together and then I usually sketch it out and send it over. It's pretty cool being able to bring it to life here.”

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Paul and Babe make a cameo appearance on Hannah Hogenson's helmet.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Hogenson’s helmet contains a number of intricate details. The back features an outline of Alaska, her home state, emerging from a sheet of ice. The right side brandishes a graphic of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, and the left exhibits BSU’s skating angry Beaver logo in front of a brick wall-barricaded net.

Men’s goalie Mattias Sholl took a different approach to his helmet. The back panel showcases his California heritage and includes the classic orange hues of a sunset over his hometown Hermosa Beach Pier.

“I thought it was cool to put something on there for people (back home) when they watch,” Sholl said. “Whenever my mom watches my games, she loves seeing the back of my helmet. She takes pictures of it and likes to talk about and look at it. It’s something to remind me of home. I didn't pick the colors on the back, but I think it came out really nice. It looks clean.”

Sholl also honored his dual heritage with a choice of two flags on the back flap.

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Mattias Sholl honors Californian and Danish roots on the back of his helmet.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“I put the USA flag and then the Danish flag because that represents both my nationalities,” Sholl said. “My mom's actually from Denmark, and now I'm a dual citizen. So I got that on there.”

The Beavers provide goaltenders with two helmets during their four-year career, which are sent off to HelmetHead Design in Omaha, Neb., for customization.

Women’s head coach Jim Scanlan tended goal back in his days with the Bemidji State men’s team, and the situation back then was significantly different.

“I didn't have a fancy (helmet),” said Scanlan, who minded the net for BSU from 1978-1982. “This was prior to the masks they wear now. I had a form-fitting mask way back when I was in high school, but I got cut a couple of times and knocked out another time, and my coach said, ‘You're not wearing it anymore.’

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Bemidji State women's hockey head coach Jim Scanlan tends goal during his playing days with the Beaver men's team.
BSU photo services

“So I started wearing a helmet with a cage, and that's what I wore when I played here. It was a Bauer helmet with a cage on it. Those masks came in after I was done. And I have nothing to do with what they paint on it. It's very individual. … It's cool to see the designs they come up with.”

Men’s head coach Tom Serratore skated as a center during his days on the ice, and he drew a parallel with customized sticks when examining what makes helmet sketching meaningful to goalies.

“They can represent themselves, whether it's a person or a saying, something that is strong to them,” Serratore said. “It’s probably one of the few things in our sport where you can actually do that, because it's the only visible piece of equipment. You'll notice it sometimes with sticks too. They'll have a name on a stick or something that's special on a stick.

“Really the only two pieces of equipment where they can represent themselves is with a stick, which is hard to see sometimes because their gloves are covering it up, or the goalie mask.”

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A brick wall and an angry Beaver also make appearances on Hannah Hogenson's helmet.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Developing artistry brings out another side of Bemidji State’s netminders, and it’s one they cherish as an outlet for expression.

“I took some art classes here and there (growing up),” Hogenson said. “But when it's stuff like this that I can get pretty passionate about, it seems to help flow the ideas together.”

On the ice this weekend, the Bemidji State women’s team faces No. 2 Wisconsin at 3:01 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, and 2:01 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, at the Sanford Center. The BSU men have the nightcaps against St. Thomas at 7:07 p.m. on Friday and 6:07 p.m. on Saturday.

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The front of Mattias Sholl's mask features his nickname, "Sholly."
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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