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Dallas Stars goalie debuts new Mario Kart helmet: ‘I played a lot growing up’

Scott Wedgewood on his newly debuted goalie mask

Miro Heiskanen #4 and Scott Wedgewood #41 of the Dallas Stars defend the net against Pavel Buchnevich #89 of the St. Louis Blues on December 16, 2023 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri. (From Getty) Photo: Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

With Dallas Stars goalie Jake Oettinger injured within minutes of Friday’s game against the Ottawa Senators, Scott Wedgewood stepped up into the crease. Not only did Wedgewood stop 25 of 27 shots to help the Stars win 5-4 over the Senators, but he debuted a special new Mario Kart goalie mask.

As Wedgewood dives for pucks, he flashes the little details in the design, which was created by goalie mask artist Dave Gunnarsson. On one side, Wedgewood’s got baby Peach to represent his unborn daughter — expected next year — riding with his two dogs. (This was something of a gender reveal, too, he said.) On the other, he’s included caricatures of fellow teammates Oettinger and Jason Robertson riding in a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe vehicle. Slapped right on the bottom of the mask is the iconic Mario star — painted in green, the Dallas Stars’ main color. There are a bunch more details scattered around the mask, like more stars and the black-and-white checkerboard banner to signal crossing the finish line.

Wedgewood told Polygon he came up with the idea after several players got a group Halloween costume going: dead Mario Kart drivers who’ve “fallen off the course one too many times.” Adding in his future daughter as baby Peach made sense, too.

“The star is obviously the gold star in Mario,” he said. “You can put that on the mask in green and tie it into the Stars in a way that everybody understands.”

While the rest of the team wears helmets, goalies don masks — and it’s one of hockey’s most fun traditions for these to be decorated. There’s been a ton of variety and pop culture references in goalie masks over the years, like Henrik Lundqvist’s Back to the Future mask and John Gibson’s Pac-Man one. Wedgewood is no stranger to such references, either: He’s had masks themed around the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as Captain America and other Marvel characters. (Wedgewood said the hockey tie-in for the TMNT mask was, of course, Casey Jones. As for the Marvel mask, he wanted the Winter Soldier arm on his glove side: “You think of your glove arm as your storm arm, for most goalies.”)

Goalies don’t have carte blanche with regards to their mask designs; the NHL has a rule that players can’t wear theme night gear for causes, like Pride events. Last month, the league threatened Minnesota Wild goalie Marc-André Fleury with a fine for wearing a Native American Heritage Night mask to honor his wife’s Indigenous ancestry. (He wore it anyway.)

“In the position, we’re unique that we can get behind the art with a little bit more of your personality and your likes,” Wedgewood added.

Video games have provided a new way for Wedgewood to interact with fans, too. During the pandemic, when he played for the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch, he streamed video games while playing with fans. But it’s also a hobby that has stuck with him over the years, since he was a child.

“I played a lot growing up,” Wedgewood told Polygon. “Being ’92 born, we grew up with the Nintendo, Sega Genesis, GameCube, Nintendo 64 — pretty much one of everything. Last year on Christmas, my wife got me a Nintendo Switch for the plane rides, and a couple of guys had them. I have a gaming screen I bring on the plane, and you plug in the Switch and we had four guys playing last year. We’d get games going.”

He continued: “Last year, a couple guys brought an N64 on the road, and we’d play the old school Mario Kart. [Games] are one of my bigger pastimes.”

Naturally, he plays a lot of NHL 24. “It was probably my biggest game growing up,” Wedgewood said of EA Sports’ hockey series. “I was ranked 11th in the world in 2008 online.” He still plays, of course, sometimes with other Stars players, like defenseman Thomas Harley. They don’t play as themselves, he said; instead, they play the EA Sports Hockey League mode, where you make your own players. Their Xbox handles can sometimes give their identity away, he said: “We’ll be playing and we’ll get messages like, Are you actually him? We should probably change our handles.”

Beyond NHL 24, Wedgewood said he also plays Apex Legends, Fortnite, and a bunch of other shooters. But recently he’s gotten into Ghost of Tsushima and finished Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. “If it doesn’t explain itself, I’ve got a PS5, an Xbox, a Nintendo Switch, and a gaming laptop,” Wedgewood said. “The five options whenever I need them.”

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