Nancy Wilds, right, laughs with Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf over dinner on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 in Everett, Wash. Wilds was the design winner for Wolf’s mask and was treated with dinner with the goalie. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Nancy Wilds, right, laughs with Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf over dinner on Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 in Everett, Wash. Wilds was the design winner for Wolf’s mask and was treated with dinner with the goalie. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Purchase Photo

Behind Wolf’s mask: Fan contest inspired Silvertips star

Nancy Wilds provided the original sketch and Travis Michael designed Dustin Wolf’s unique mask.

EVERETT — When Nancy Wilds entered Angel of the Winds Arena for the Everett Silvertips’ first preseason game this August, she high-tailed it to the boards in the northeast corner of the rink.

She wanted to see her handiwork up close and personal.

Wilds, a Silvertips season-ticket holder, was the grand-prize winner of a contest held by the Silvertips to help design Dustin Wolf’s goalie mask. She sketched out the mean wolf head that was painted front and center on the top of Wolf’s mask. For her efforts, she earned a recent lunch meet-and-greet with Wolf at El Paraiso Mexican Grill in Everett.

“As soon as I saw it, it sort of made sense,” Wolf said of Wilds design. “Obviously it’s pretty clever with the name.

“The detail she put into it, and she put a lot of time and effort into it, you can tell. I thought it was a good opportunity to just involve the different people in the community and add a personal touch to it. Obviously it’s pretty fun to have a mask you can kind of run with and have fun with.”

Holding such a contest was in the back of Wolf’s mind for a while, he said.

“Prior to my first year coming here, I saw how great the fans were and how much they supported their goalies and I just thought it would be a good idea to try and put it in the hands of the community, and take the weight off my shoulders to try and figure out what to put on it,” Wolf said with a chuckle. “I thought it was a good time to put it out there. We gave it a couple of months to get some submissions, some good, some not so good, but at the end of the day, it turned out pretty great.”

Hannah Dunn, Nicolas Botner and Ryan Saunders also were winners and had some of their artwork used on the mask.

Wilds, despite her artistic talent, doesn’t have the deep art background that you may think. The Snohomish County native and Tulalip resident spent 19 years in the investment industry as a branch office administrator, but recaptured some of her affinity for drawing and painting that she possessed as a youth when she retired a few years ago.

She also decided to become a Silvertips season-ticket holder after attending many games since the team’s inception in 2003.

An original sketch for Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf’s mask from Travis Michael, a mask-painter based out of Victoria, British Columbia. (Courtesy of Travis Michael).

An original sketch for Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf’s mask from Travis Michael, a mask-painter based out of Victoria, British Columbia. (Courtesy of Travis Michael).

So when the Silvertips announced the contest in May, Wilds was pressured by her daughter, Angie Miller, to whip up a rendering for Wolf’s mask. She thought of a menacing Wolf that was “bleeding green” from the fur and sent in her drawing.

Miller alerted Wilds that she was the first-place winner while Wilds was on her family’s rural property in Cusick, on the Pend Oreille River, with her husband, Val Wilds. Cell service was scarce, so it took a few tries.

“She was like, ‘Mom, you won, you won!,’” Wilds said. “It was really cool.”

Once the designs were chosen, Wolf consulted with Travis Michael of TM Kustoms in Victoria, British Columbia, to bring them to life.

Michael is in his first season painting goaltender masks for the Silvertips after Everett’s previous designer decided not to paint masks this summer. Michael also painted the masks for Everett goalies Keegan Karki and Braden Holt.

But it’s far from Michael’s first foray into painting goalie masks. He’s in his fifth season as the Victoria Royals’ mask-painter, and he estimates he’s painted about 26 masks in his time working with his hometown team, most prominently that of four-year starter Griffen Outhouse.

Travis Michael’s mask design for Silvertips rookie goaltender Braden Holt. (Courtesy of Travis Michael)

Travis Michael’s mask design for Silvertips rookie goaltender Braden Holt. (Courtesy of Travis Michael)

Wolf and Michael worked together to construct a detailed and symbolic mask, which took about three weeks to nail down.

“I for sure wouldn’t have come up with all these ideas,” Wolf said. “The biggest burden in this mask is that I wanted to get so many different aspects into it. The first thing I told the painter (Michael) when I called him was I’m a very detailed-oriented guy. I want as many aspects, whether they’re shown clearly or hidden, that you can put on there.”

The final result demonstrates that.

On the top is Wilds’ wolf design and below the facemask is Wolf’s last name.

An airplane flying through the sky represents Everett’s aviation connection with Boeing; mountains and a forest were inspired by the Cascade Mountains. A sketch of Angel of the Winds Arena and a wolf howling at the moon also are included.

An etching of a Naval boat, the USS Rodney M. Davis frigate that was decommissioned in 2015, and a silhouette of the Silvertips’ bear logo adorns the left ear.

The back plate depicts a rather muscular werewolf flexing his chest and roaring, a design Michael pitchedm, along with an American flag in the top right corner, Wolf’s No. 32 at the bottom and a quote along the right side from actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson: “Be humble, be hungry and always the hardest worker in the room.”

Throughout the mask are examples of “ghost painting,” paint that shows up only when it hits the light, with the Old English style “E” and Silvertips hidden throughout.

It was the type of mask Michael said he relishes in painting because of all the different elements.

“That’s the best part,” Michael said. “You get to bring other people’s ideas to life that can’t do it. You get to sit down and say, ‘What do you want on there?’ That’s the coolest part of it.”

Michael, a lifelong Victoria native, has always been passionate about goaltending and art. But it wasn’t until six years ago that he was able to combine the two.

Growing up, Michael played goaltender and still enjoys playing to this day, and from ages 12 to 19 he was a graffiti artist.

With inspiration from his father, who helped paint his masks growing up, it’s only natural that when Michael decided to stop tagging walls, he’d canvas goalie masks with his passion and creativity.

A tile-setter by trade, Michael also paints anything from signs, motorcycles, helmets and skateboards to go along with goalie masks. He’s gotten enough work in the past year that it’s essentially his full-time job.

His dream is to someday paint masks for an NHL team, he said.

Designing a goalie mask usually rakes in anywhere from $500 to $1000, depending on the detail and color in the mask. Michael said with the application of paint and subsequent drying, masks take about a week to complete.

Wolf hopes months of brainstorming and about a week of painting results in a season full of keeping the puck out of his own net.

“I mean, I hope it’s got a few more wins in it,” he said. “It’s been pretty strong thus far.”

Josh Horton covers the Silvertips for the Herald. Follow him on Twitter, @joshhortonEDH

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