Justin Cox had the chance to combine two of his passions, graphic design and hockey, and he got to meet his favorite player in the process.
Cox was the winner of the Colorado Avalanche and AT&T "Design My Mask" contest and received the opportunity to have his designed mask made, meet Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and get a unique experience at the team's final regular-season home game at Pepsi Center last Sunday against Pittsburgh.
The winning mask not only had an Avs feel to it, but some Colorado flair as well.
The top of mask had the Avs logo, while the back read, "Why Not Us," this year's Avs team's mantra, and Giguere's nickname, "Jiggy." One side of the mask had mountains while the other side had the skyline of the city of Denver. The bottom front of the headgear displayed the 'C' that is featured prominently on Colorado's state flag.
“I just kind of wanted to show, as a Colorado native, my pride for both the state and the city of Denver and the team," Cox said.
A senior at Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., Cox came across the promotion on the Avalanche's Facebook page and decided to give it a try.
"I just came across a picture of Giguere on the Facebook page so I just kind of clicked on it and saw the details for the mask contest," Cox said. "That’s something that I’m always interested in so I immediately looked it up and read the details.
“I sketched out the initial design in a day or two and then kind of did it on my computer, produced it graphically a little more professionally. Maybe it took a week.”
The submission period for the contest was from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14 with 10 designs being chosen as finalists. Fans then had three weeks to vote for their favorite before a winner was announced.
Cox's Colorado themed mask made it through each round and was the last one standing.
After being declared the winner, it came time to transform Cox's digital design into a real goalie mask. The mask took several weeks to create but was finally completed before the Avs' final couple home games of the season.
AT&T has been a partner of the Avalanche since 2009, and it was the company's vision and creativity that brought this idea to life and enabled Cox to have this experience.
Cox got his first look at the mask he designed prior to the Avalanche's practice last Friday at Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colo., and was thrilled with how it looked.
“It turned out great," Cox said. "The painter really stayed true to the original design, and I honestly couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”
The day was only going to get better as Cox soon met Giguere, his favorite player since the netminder was playing with the Anaheim Ducks. Despite being a life-long Avalanche fan, Cox said he has always appreciated the play of Giguere and has followed him throughout his NHL career.
"Growing up I was kind of always a Ducks fan, along with an Avs fan," Cox said. "No reason I guess, but J.S. especially when he won the Conn Smythe [Trophy] in 2003, kind of became a big hero of mine. Both my brothers were goalies so it was kind of fitting that I was a big fan of his, and I’ve followed him all the years. When he signed with Colorado it was obviously real exciting for me that he’d be playing for my favorite team.”
The two talked for several minutes, and Giguere also got to check out the mask. The Colorado goalie was impressed.
"I like it. It shows both sides of Denver and Colorado too," Giguere said. "It’s different than what I have right now. I really like the colors, the way it’s simple, but at the same time you know exactly what it is. It’s nice.”
“I think it’s cool. He is a high school kid and to be able to come up with a nice design like that is pretty impressive. I’m happy that I was part of this project, and I will be more than glad to wear it and use it in practice and maybe use it in a game.”
Giguere didn't wear it in a game, but he did put on the mask and wore it during the Friday's practice and during warm-up for the Avs' contest against the Penguins.
At Sunday's game, Cox got another chance to talk to Giguere beforehand, saw a behind-the-scenes look at Pepsi Center, and rode the Zamboni during the first intermission.
Cox will attend Colorado State University next fall and looks to continue his passion in graphic design and hockey, but he said he will always remember the experience from his goalie mask.
"It’s kind of a dream come true in so many ways, having my design made like this, for my favorite team and for my favorite goalie," he said. "It’s unbelievable.”