Raanta pays tribute to Belfour with mask

Joni "Bona" Hallikainen will be rooting for the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, but he'll also selfishly be cheering for goaltender Corey Crawford to get pulled early from the game.

It's nothing personal against Crawford, Hallikainen just hopes his creation will get some air time during the nationally televised game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field. Hallikainen painted Chicago backup goaltender Antti Raanta's Stadium Series mask, which pays tribute to former Blackhawks goaltender Ed Belfour and is nearly an exact duplicate of the "Eddie the Eagle" mask Belfour wore while with the team.

"I'm really hoping the Blackhawks are going to win, but I kind of hope that Crawford lets a few pucks in," Hallikainen said while laughing during a phone interview from Finland. "He gets pulled and Antti gets into the net. We'll see what's going to happen."

Hallikainen, who also worked with Raanta on the other mask he's worn this season, worked with the goaltender to come up with the idea.

"The painter who made it, I was asking him if he had something, some idea for the outdoor game mask," Raanta said after a recent practice. "He said, 'How about Eddie the Eagle tribute mask?' I was like, ‘Why not?'

"He made a couple pictures, and I was really, really excited about that. He took a couple of pictures, and there was already one guy trying to buy it. It was pretty fun. I hope Eddie likes that because that's respect to a great goalie in Blackhawks history."

While Raanta may worry about Belfour's opinion, Hallikainen was concerned Greg Harrison, the original artist of Belfour's mask, would not approve of a duplicate. Hallikainen said he reached out to Harrison and got his blessing.

The mask was custom made by Petri Karvinen, who works for Wall Mask, and Hallikainen went to work on the painting of it. He said it took about 14 hours to complete.

"From my point of view, it was one of the best projects and most fun projects because I'm a huge fan of Greg Harrison and his work," Hallikainen said. "I always wanted someone who would like to have those original, cool designs like Belfour's. These days, kids and older goalies don't want that kind of paint job anymore.

"When this idea came up, I was like, ‘No, I have to push this through to get Antti to wear that kind of decision.' And here we go."