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Schaefer sketching out future plans

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    Nolan Schaefer wants to be mentioned in the same breath as Martin Brodeur.

    Sure, it would be nice to be a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer. It would be great to lead the NHL in goals against average three different times. But Schaefer has something different in mind.

    “Brodeur has had the same helmet design for as long as I can remember,” stated the rookie goaltender. “His helmet is so distinct and people associate it as part of him.”

    One of Schaefer’s favorite past times is sketching different designs for helmets. When he turned professional, Schaefer designed a helmet that he hopes will last him the rest of his career.

    There are two distinct characteristics of his helmet. The first is the prevalence of two sharks on each side. The sharks obviously are incorporated due to his association with the San Jose Sharks. Below each shark, are fish bones.

    “Sharks eat fish, so the fish bones represent the competition that I am eating up.”

    Finally, the back of Schaefer’s helmet is the most personal touch. He designed a logo that is a cross between a dragon and a dolphin.

    Explains Nolan, “My brother Peter (a member of the Ottawa Senators) has a tattoo of a dragon. My sister Falin has a tattoo of a dolphin. So it is a way of representing both of them.”

    Schaefer has been drawing and sketching since he was young. In fact, during math class, he was more fixated by doodling in his notebook. That doodling eventually became more.

    When Schaefer enrolled at Providence College in the fall of 1999, he wasn’t sure what field of study to pursue. He tried the business and marketing route, but it just didn’t cut it. Schaefer then stumbled upon the Art College and became a studio art major.

    For those that don’t know a whole lot about being an art major, a lot of out of class work is required. Amazingly, Schaefer was able to balance 18-20 hours in the studio each week with his classes and his busy hockey schedule.

    “The professor’s really were great and I was able to do a lot of work outside of the class. It was hard balancing my time, but I was able to get it done.”

    Schaefer carried his heavy load over to the professional ranks as well. The highlight of the season came on Jan. 5 when he was called upon by the Sharks. He did not appear in the game, but Schaefer did see some familiar faces in Vancouver that night.

    “My brother used to play with the Canucks and I knew a lot of the guys through him. There were a lot of double takes on the ice during warm-ups,” laughed Schaefer.

    His most memorable moment of the night occurred upon his entrance to the building. Vancouver center Brendan Morrison got Nolan past security and into the building. Morrison knew Nolan through Peter.

    “He was walking past and then looked back and said, ‘What are you doing here?’ All I could do was laugh because my life long dream was to play in the NHL and at the instant I told him I was called up, the realization sunk in.”

    Schaefer received just a small taste of life in the NHL. After the game, Schaefer flew cross-country to rejoin the Barons. But that sniff has given Schaefer extra motivation.

    “It was the greatest day of my life. Now I know where I want to go and I will do anything in my power to improve and get there.”

    Nolan has a lot of resources at his fingertips. Having Peter Schaefer as your brother has the benefit of qualified training partners. Splitting the summer between British Columbia and Saskatchewan, Nolan skates with NHL veterans Cliff Ronning, Mike Sillinger, Dave Scatchard and his brother Peter among others.

    So while Schaefer continues to develop in Cleveland, developing a helmet is just the first step to becoming Martin Brodeur. Looking at his family lines, Schaefer definitely has the pedigree to make the transition to NHL hockey in his future.