When you think about goaltending in Calgary, you are often overwhelmed with distant memories of Miikka Kiprusoff, Mike Vernon and Reggie Lemelin. As of recent years there hasn’t been much to obsess over in the Flames’ net until last season when Mike Smith was hot … but the feeling quickly died off.
This year, however, fans of the Calgary Flames are falling in love with the animated and highly-talented goaltender, David Rittich, known by fans as Big Save Dave for his ability of making… big saves.
Rittich has been reminding many of what it is like to have a goaltender that gave you a sense of security when they were in the net. Calgary has a history of relying on goaltenders to play the bulk of seasons to the point where it is actually unbelievable.
For example, Kiprusoff did not have a season of less than 70 games played from 2005-2012 according to HockeyDB. The days of goalies being used for that many games in a season are mostly over. I doubt Rittich will have that same situation, but I do believe he will start to claim his spot in Calgary history.
The 26-year-old Czech goaltender has already found himself sitting at number seventeen on the Flames all-time win list with 26, according to Hockey Reference.
Although Rittich is far away from from Kiprusoff’s record of 305 wins and Vernon’s spectacular 262 wins he has been compared to the greats of the franchise, especially Kiprusoff throughout this season.
Not only has Rittich reminded people of Calgary’s goaltending past through his play, but he will also be honouring the past with his brand new mask.
The mask is painted in a beautiful retro-Flames colour scheme — including the striping, and logo. One side of the mask features a portrait of Miikka Kiprusoff, a picture of him in full equipment and also his name and number in the font from his era.
The other side of the mask pays homage to Mike Vernon in the same way. Vernon’s name and number is aligned to reflect his jersey retirement banner.
There is a great balance of new and old with the retro stripe and the mountains featured from the last alternate jersey shoulder patches. Rittich’s mask is a great reflection of old and the new as the front proudly shows his own number, 33.
Photos courtesy of Ryan Leslie (@RyanLeslie73)