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The Art of Boston College Goaltending

Behind the designs that set the guys in net apart

Jack Moffatt, Henry Wilder, and Mitch Benson
| Courtesy of BC Men’s Hockey

There’s not much skaters can change in their hockey getups — every piece of gear is the same from their sweaters to their socks. Goalies, however, can customize their masks, and the designs they choose to feature serve as a peek into the personality of the players that guard the net. College goalie masks are no less impressive than NHL masks and the level of detail and individuality match those seen in professional hockey. Boston College has had a number of incredible goalie masks pass through Conte Forum, from Cory Schneider’s to Thatcher Demko’s to Joe Woll’s and Spencer Knight’s.

To get to know this year’s goalies better, we sat down with Mitch Benson, Henry Wilder, and Jack Moffatt to talk through their first custom masks, the details chosen for their BC masks, and the process of getting them designed.

But, first: the guys behind the masks

Mitch Benson

A graduate transfer from Colgate University, Mitch Benson has started all 21 games this season for the Eagles. After a bit of an adjustment period at the beginning of the season, he has recently strung together some strong performances. The Eagles have only lost two games in regulation since the beginning of December.

“It was a little rocky at the start, just trying to find some confidence and some consistency,” Benson shares of his transition to BC, “but I think I’ve done a better job as of late.”

Benson has already noticed some marked differences between playing in the ECAC and in Hockey East. “The ECAC is really tight defensively,” he’s observed. A lot of the games are low scoring, while in Hockey East “there’s more skill and it’s more fast-paced up and down the ice.”

Of course, speaking of fast-paced games, we would be remiss not to ask about Benson’s experience playing in his first ever BC-BU game. A 9-6 win for the Eagles back in December that saw BC score five goals in the second period, Benson’s first Battle of Comm Ave was one for the books.

“It was crazy,” he laughs. “Obviously it wasn’t the score I wanted it to be as a goalie; you never want to give up six goals.” But the BC-BU rivalry is famous; something every hockey player hears about. “Being a part of it — like you hear about it regardless of if you’re on a different team — was super cool, and something I’ll remember forever.

“And I’ll try to keep the score down next game,” he laughs.

As the season has progressed, the Eagles have inched their way into the top 20, and Benson’s recent play is a big part of that success.

Still, Benson won’t take much of the credit. “The heart of the team has always been really positive — we know that we have a really good group,” he says, “and it’s just putting all the pieces together. I don’t think anybody’s ever had a doubt in the locker room.”

Henry Wilder & Jack Moffatt

Boston College’s backup goalies are two local kids who grew up with the Eagles as a constant presence in their lives.

As a Needham native, Chestnut Hill was Henry Wilder’s backyard for pretty much his whole life. Though his parents are UNH alums and Wilder grew up going to UNH hockey games, his friends had connections to Boston College and he’d regularly make his way to Conte Forum games as well. “Being on the other side of the glass [now] is a little strange sometimes,” Wilder says. “But it’s really cool. I’m pretty lucky to be here.”

Jack Moffatt grew up in Wellesley, a quick 15-minute drive from BC. Similarly to Wilder, Moffatt went to BC hockey games regularly, from the time he was six years old through middle school. Eventually, it became the team he dreamed of playing for. “When the offer came,” he shares, “there was really no second guessing myself.”

Of course, the Eagles got to play in an iconic Massachusetts landmark earlier in January, taking on the UMass Minutemen at Fenway Park as a part of Frozen Fenway. For the two goalies from Massachusetts, playing at the home of the Red Sox was extremely special.

“To be able to go out there and be in the middle of Fenway Park, like where the pitcher’s mound is, is pretty special,” Wilder says. “Probably not going to be in that spot again, unless I pick up a career in baseball, so I just tried to soak it all in.”

Moffatt was hoping that he’d get a chance to play at Fenway as a high schooler, though St. Sebastian’s never got a game there while he was a student. He did, however, attend Frozen Fenway in 2013, watching BC take on Notre Dame at the ballpark.

For the two locals, being a part of Boston College’s athletics feels meant to be.

Their First Masks

Picking out details to feature on a mask is exciting — especially for a goalie’s first one. Benson, Moffatt, and Wilder all remember every last detail of their first masks.

A Windsor, Ontario native, Benson’s first mask featured the Windsor Jr. Spitfires logo — specifically from the World War II era — down the side, with the Spitfires logo on top. Benson, like his dad, plays guitar and so he had a ‘58 Flying V from Gibson and a Les Paul Custom on one of the sides. As a “semi-big car guy” he had a Lamborghini on the other side.

Wilder got his first custom mask in high school, and it was similar to his first mask BC mask, with the exception of one thing: a horseshoe on the back plate. “My mom always said it’s a good luck thing, [though] people always asked if I was a Colts fan,” Wilder says. In a full circle moment, Wilder mentions that his first-ever mask was actually painted by Allen Schneider of Vice Design, who also painted his current BC mask.

Moffatt got his first mask as a Christmas present in 5th or 6th grade. While looking through the texture gallery that the painter provided him and his dad, Moffatt was drawn to a mask for an Ontario Hockey League goalie that was blue with orange lightning bolts. Since his team’s colors were blue and white at the time, Moffatt went with a blue base color with white lightning bolts and no other custom details. “I was so happy with it, and I still have that mask today,” he shares. “I definitely like looking at that one and then looking at [my current ones] and seeing how far I’ve come.”

Their Boston College Masks

Courtesy of BC Men’s Hockey

Simple, nothing too intricate, is how Mitch Benson primarily describes his mask.

Benson started the process of designing his BC mask back in April of 2022 — a full seven months before becoming an Eagle. He worked with Allen from Vice Design and had a general vision of what he wanted on his mask. From there, Allen filled in the gaps with his own touches. After sharing what he wanted on the back plate and making one change to the mockup of the front, Benson received his finished mask.

Taking inspiration from former Boston College goalie Joe Woll’s mask, an eagle adorns the right side of Benson’s mask. This also serves as a callback to NHL legend Ed Belfour’s iconic eagle design. On the left are the Boston College crest and the retro logo. “The retro eagle is super cool,” Benson says, “it’s similar to the one that was on the Fenway jerseys.”

He’s got his number — 1 — on the chin to tie everything together in the front.

The back plate is more personal, with Benson choosing to highlight specific people and things in his life that mean a lot to him.

Perhaps the most visible from afar is the blue brain in the center of the back plate. After suffering a number of concussions during his career, including one that took him out for the 2020-21 season at Colgate, Benson wasn’t sure he would ever play hockey again. He shares that he connected with Dr. Anthony Lemmo, a functional neurologist back home in Windsor, who helped rehab him back to a point of playing his fourth year at Colgate and eventually getting him to BC. “I owe a lot to him and his staff,” Benson says. “I really wanted to put him on there, he’s been a big part of my hockey career and saving it.”

Underneath the blue brain are four sets of initials — J.S., G.L., A.F., and W.F. — the initials of Benson’s old roommates from Colgate. “I’ve been through a lot with those guys and they were some of my best friends on the planet,” he says. “Jeff Stewart, Griffin Lunn, Andrew Ferrier, and Will Friend — wanna shout those guys out for sure.”

And lastly, to the side is the logo for the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL, where Benson spent a few seasons before beginning his NCAA career. “I had a really good time there and won a couple of championships,” he says. “So I make sure to keep that on the back.” The Bandits logo is the one thing that he’s kept consistent throughout his custom masks, even as he transferred programs.

Of his BC mask, Benson shares, “it’s treated me well so far.”

As upperclassmen, junior Henry Wilder and senior Jack Moffatt each have two masks from their time as Eagles.

Wilder’s first BC mask was modeled after the one he had in high school. On top, it reads “Boston College” in script, inspired by Pekka Rinne’s Winter Classic mask. Wilder points out that typically, there’d be a big logo on top but he was a fan of doing something a little different with the script.

Similar to Benson’s mask, Wilder has the retro logos on both sides. With the retro logo returning to BC’s jerseys in recent years, it’s a nice touch to tie all his gear together. On the chin, Wilder’s first mask has laces painted on it. It’s something he’d always included on his mask because his favorite goalie growing up, Carey Price, always had it on his.

On the back plate, he’s got a picture of a turtle — which he shares is because his high school coach called him turtle after seeing him not get involved in a brawl on the ice when he was 13; he “turtled.”

Wilder’s second mask has a matte finish, very different from the shine on his first. Also painted by Allen from Vice Design, Wilder says he was mostly hands off on the design for this mask. He knew he wanted to go with the matte finish and a gold cage, but other than that and the details on the back plate, he let Allen run with the rest.

The script at the top was replaced with the BC logo, and eagles are painted on both sides. If you look closely, you’ll see the Boston skyline drawn on the edge of both eagles, looking like it was penciled in. “I grew up here too,” he says regarding the Boston motifs, “so it’s a bit more special.”

Instead of the laces on the chin, which Wilder felt was getting a little outdated, his number is in the front. Pulling it all together is the gold cage, since Wilder thought a maroon one would result in too much maroon on the mask.

On the back plate, the logo for his high school team — Hotchkiss — lies in the center, though Wilder thinks it’s a little too big. Still, he appreciates having it there, carrying over the theme of remembering his high school years from his first BC mask. To the left of the Hotchkiss logo are four letters — YNWA — which Wilder shares stands for “you’ll never walk alone,” a reminder that “there’s always someone with you; regardless of what you’re going through, there’s someone for you.” To the right of the logo are four other letters — N.M.S.H. — the initials of everyone in his family including himself.

“This one’s really great,” Wilder says. “It’s the last one I’ll get so I better enjoy it.”

Both of Moffatt’s masks are actually the same design; just different colors and finishes. Starting the design process during his senior spring in high school, Moffatt would sit in his classes and play around on Photoshop while looking online at mask designs from past BC goalies and other college goalies to see what he liked. Though his mask now doesn’t look anything like his own creations, he sent over what he’d come up with to Jesse from Jesse’s Custom Design, who then sent Moffatt his renderings. “It just looked so good,” Moffatt says. “So I’ve just let [Jesse] run with it — he crushed it both times.”

Moffatt’s first mask as an Eagle had a gold base, something he originally chose because it matched his pads and the rest of his gear his freshman year. When designing his newer mask, he didn’t want to change much about the content of his mask, but liked the way white matte looked on other masks he’d seen — so he just switched to a different finish and base color.

On the chin is the Boston skyline, something that Moffatt points out as one of his favorite features of the mask. He knew he wanted to have something Boston-focused on his mask, taking inspiration from Bruins goalies and other local college goaltenders.

Moffat also knew he wanted to include some uniquely BC artwork beyond just logos. So on the left side of his mask, he’s got a rendering of Gasson Hall, as well as the BC skyline. On the right side, there’s an eagle in flight. On top is the BC crest, and tying it all together is a strip with “Boston College” written out going from left to right. As a finishing touch, he chose a white cage.

On the back plate, Moffatt’s got his number — 32 — in the center, and his last name at the bottom.

Around his number, he has the logo of the gym that he grew up working out at, the logo for his high school team, and the logo for his goalie coach — “the three groups and places that were huge in getting me here and training me for the past 12 years of my life.”

Next, he has the saying “Once in, never out, Arrows forever,” the slogan from St. Sebastian’s, his high school. He notes how he really liked the brotherhood that the saying implies because it’s the same type of feeling that the Eagles have in their locker room. “I’m still friends with a bunch of the older guys who have graduated or moved on from the team. So I definitely feel like it applies to BC.”

Lastly, he has his grandmother’s initials on his back plate. Moffatt shares that he was very close with her, and though she never got to watch him wear the BC colors, she was one of his biggest supporters and was always at his high school games. Having her initials keeps her close, and Moffatt knows that she’s proud that he’s an Eagle.

Benson, Wilder, and Moffatt have put in a lot of thought into their Boston College masks, taking inspiration from prior goalies on the Heights or from iconic landmarks that define BC and the city of Boston. Their masks highlight what it means to be a Boston College Eagle: loyalty to your team, love for Boston, and acknowledgement of everyone that helped them along the way.

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