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Goalie mask of Philadelphia Flyers' Ray Emery honors Tuskegee Airmen (Photo)

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve always had a fascination with the art work on goalie masks. Seriously, they’re just jaw dropping.

It’s a shame that catchers in Major League Baseball don’t have more detailed masks, though, rules prevent anything over the top.

The same can’t be said for the NHL and Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ray Emery has one of the better masks I’ve ever seen.

Emery, according to InGoal Mag, wanted to honor the Tuskegee Airmen and employed Diel Airbrush designer David Leroux to create the amazing piece.

What he found was the origin of the team’s name, which was selected through a contest (to win a 20-inch RCA TV), and a pilot-themed mask that Frank Cipra had painted for then-Flyers goalie Brian Boucher.

“I have been a fan of Frank Cipra forever and I thought the pilot theme was a good idea so I asked Ray if it’s something he would like,” Leroux said. “He said ‘yeah’ so I began searching and that’s when I came across the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American aviators in the United States armed forces.”

On one side Leroux painted the image of a Tuskegee Airman, which he also felt symbolized both Emery’s well-known fighting spirit and his ability to overcome adversity while battling back from what most believed was a career ending hip injury. On the other he used Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, a United States Marine Corps officer and fighter ace who was awarded both the Medal of Honour and the Navy Cross during World War II.

“You can’t get much more patriotic,” Leroux said.

The Tuskegee Airmen were of course the first African American military aviators in the United States armed forces (which was segregated at the time) and were credited with being large contributors to a handful of major combat victories and held an unrivaled escort percentage.

Tags: Philadelphia Flyers Ray Emery

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