Tanner Klassen has done his part to put Campbell River on the map - by putting a loonie on a mask.
The 18-year-old Carihi graduate and lifelong art enthusiast will have his work on display for millions of Canadians to see this Christmas season. His artistry will be front-and-centre every time Team Canada takes to the ice at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Finland - all because of a contest he heard about on the radio.
" I was listening to The Team 1040 [a Vancouver sports radio station] and they announced a contest to design the mask for the Team Canada goalie at the World Juniors. I thought of the loonie right away," explained Klassen. "I went to the Hockey Fall of Fame this summer and saw the loonie from the Salt Lake City Olympics and when I heard about the contest, I just thought it would be perfect."
The legend of the loonie is a story that captured the imagination and superstitious hearts of Canadian hockey fans from the time it was first exposed. Trent Jones - the icemaker at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games - is a Canadian. As he was laying the ice for the hockey tournament, he placed a Canadian $1 coin under the centre-ice dot. Team Canada went on to capture the Olympic hockey gold.
Loonie luck did not stop there. This spring in Helsinki, a loonie was surreptitiously sewn into the webbing in one of the nets prior to the World Championships gold medal game. Again, Canada emerged victorious. And so the legend continues.
Once again, thanks to Klassen's creativity, the loonie will be a part of a gold-medal quest - this time painted onto the mask of one of Canada's junior goaltenders. The contest Klassen entered was run by I-TECH Sport Products Inc. The company asked artists to consider a design suitable for the Team Canada goalie mask. Klassen was notified of his winning entry via e-mail last Thursday. The letter, sent by Eric Marquis, marketing coordinator for I-TECH Sport Products Inc. explained the decision.
" Your loonie design stood out among the hundreds of entries received for its uniquely Canadian reference and homage to the last Olympic gold medal game," it said.
In addition to a mask with his design being worn by one of the Team Canada goaltenders, Klassen will
receive a duplicate mask featuring his design.
A lifelong hockey fan, Klassen admits that this year's World Junior Hockey Championships will carry a little more interest and personal pride than any other international hockey tournament he has watched on television.
" This is a great deal for me," he said. "It's really going to be something special to see my design on
TV. And maybe it will help them win gold. Who knows?"
The World Junior Hockey Championships begin for Canada on Boxing Day with a game against host Finland.