April 5, 2014 Updated: April 7, 2014 at 6:54 pm
As a young child, Justin Cox hoped to one day play ice hockey like his hero, NHL goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere. As his artistic skills matured, so did his dreams. The ice, however, remained his main inspiration.
When the Palmer High School senior saw a notice seeking entries for the AT&T Design My Mask contest, he didn't hesitate. This year's competition, launched online in January, sought original designs for a mask for Giguere, who plays for the Colorado Avalanche.
"When I lucked across the contest and saw it was for him, I knew it was a perfect opportunity," said Cox, 18, who sketched out his design on paper before perfecting it using a computer graphic design program. "I've designed hockey jerseys and masks just for fun, but this was the perfect opportunity to create something for my team and my goalie."
Cox's design, featuring the Rocky Mountains and the Denver skyline, was one of 10 finalists chosen by contest organizers based on creativity and originality; his submission then went on to take top honors after a round of online voting by the public.
"Winning the contest itself was honestly a dream come true in so many different ways," said Cox, who plans to study graphic design next year at Colorado State University-Fort Collins. "I've wanted to meet Giguere my whole life and to do it this way, it's so much more special."
The Avalanche will celebrate Cox and his design Sunday during the team's final regular-season home game of the season. After a meet and greet with Giguere, Cox will receive a 3-D version of his mask - created by Canadian airbrush artist Sylvie Poitras - autographed hockey puck, gear, a Zamboni ride and game tickets.
As an early bonus, Cox got to meet his hero - and see the final version of the mask - before the Avs practiced Friday.
"I think the mask has a great design. It really shows the city and the mountains," Giguere said. "It's always fun to be able to help a kid's dream come true. If Justin lets me, I will wear it today."
Permission promptly was granted.
"Nothing would make me happier than to see it on the ice, with Giguere wearing it," Cox said.
Contact Stephanie Earls: 636-0364