Walleye goaltender Pat Nagle shows his support for the military on his mask and the patriotic helmet has gotten a ton of exposure lately.
Nagle emerged as the winner of the ECHL's March MASKness Challenge – a social-media based competition for the most impressive mask in the league as determined by fan voting.
Nagle's mask, which features images related to the Walleye's American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids, beat out 15 other masks.
The helmet also features a ‘Support the Troops’ message prominently displayed on the back plate.
“I have family and friends that are serving or have served,” Nagle said. “I don't think they garner the respect they should get from everyone. So, being American, I think any time you can help them out and let them know you support them, that’s huge.”
The back of Toledo Walleye goalie Pat Nagle's mask prominently displays the 'Support Our Troops' message. The mask won the ECHL March MASKness Challenge, a social media based competition for the most impressive mask in the league.
The veteran goalie, who is in his first year with the Walleye, said his masks have always included a military salute. The 30-year-old, who in his seventh season of pro hockey, said it has been a staple on his masks through the years.
“It has found its way on my mask in one place or another,” Nagle said.
The native of Bloomfield, Mich., said winning the competition was special for several reasons.
“It means a lot,” Nagle said. “I have to thank our fan base. They did a great job of voting on social media. It's fun having their support.”
Nagle’s mask pays tribute to the Grand Rapids Griffins, with whom he is on a contract. The mask features the Griffins logo on the front and a griffin on the side. It also features his nickname “Nags.”
The contest, which began on March 22, included 16 masks from ECHL goaltenders that were presented to fans through social media. The designs featured various themes – logos or references to the team they played for, historical images, and cartoon characters, among others. Over several weeks, ECHL fans voted on Twitter to advance their favorite mask in the bracket-style competition.
By March 29, only four masks remained in the competition. Nagle faced off against Worcester Railers netminder Mitch Gillam, whose mask features the Railers' locomotive theme. Nagle won 63 percent of the votes cast to advance to the finals against Ty Reichenbach of the Norfolk Admirals.
Reichenbach’s back plate features superheroes Wolverine and Captain America.
ECHL fans had 48 hours to cast their vote for the overall champion. More than 1,800 votes were cast and Nagle captured 67 percent of the fan support to become the 2018 March MASKness titlist.
Nagle said the Walleye fan base seems to be very savvy on social media.
“They’ve been great in all facets,” Nagle said. “They’ve been really good to us at home – we’ve had a great home record this year and I think it’s largely attributed to them. It’s such a fun place to play and any time you’re in front of a sold-out crowd that’s on your side it makes things easier. As far as the social media, obviously they’re on there as well and doing big things so that’s always fun for us.”
Nagle credited the equipment manager for the Grand Rapids Griffins, Brad Thompson, for designing with the overriding theme.
“He did a great job coming up with the idea,” Nagle said.
The veteran netminder also said Jason Livery, the artist that painted the mask, deserves equal credit.
“He did all the hard work,” Nagle said. “He did a nice job mixing a few things together. He also put a little different finish on it. It's a little different than the usual glossy.
“It came out pretty neat. I let those two use their creative juices. I put a little input here and there.”
Nagle said the finish has a different feel and look to it. He said the mask has a little bit of everything.
“The ‘Support the Troops’ on the back – I’ve had that for a while,” Nagle said. “You don’t hear a lot of positive talk all the time about what the troops do for us and for our country. I just try to help any way I can.”
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