WARRENVILLE — Like any good goalie, Ryan McKay is superstitious.
McClelland's company — www.macmasks.com — which he runs out of the basement of his Warrenville home, has produced hundreds of goalie helmets.
Two of his former customers are among the game's best goaltenders.
Tim Thomas, who led the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011 and now plays for the New York Islanders, wore one of McClelland's masks while a member of the minor league affiliate Providence Bruins.
McClelland believes McKay, who leads the NCAA with a 0.97 goals against average and a .964 save percentage, "is my best bet in terms of growing up and being an NHL goalie."
McClelland, 39, who plays goalie in several men's leagues, mainly serves rec league, youth and high school goalies, and he's painted masks for St. Rita, Mt. Carmel and Marist netminders.
McClelland, who works full time at Chicagoland Speedway as creative services and media credential manager, doesn't do much advertising.
Instead, goalies such as Lakeview resident Nick Chodorow find him.
Chodorow had seen McClelland's work on other masks while playing at Johnny's Ice House four years ago and decided to utilize his services.
Now Chodorow, 34, has purchased two McClelland masks, including his latest — with a Chinese dragon on the front (he's half Asian) and a ship on the back (his wife sails).
"They're items of artwork really," Chodorow, a Prince Edward Island native, said of McClelland's products.
McClelland said he spends between 12 and 18 hours on each mask, and he completes about one per week.
After a client has approved a computer-designed sketch, McClelland sands the factory finish, covers the mask in a black primer and creates a vinyl film for the designs (teeth or claws, for example). Then he paints the mask, starting at the top and working his way toward the chin area.
"I take a lot of pride in what I do," said McClelland, who charges between $450 and $700 for a mask. "There are steps I could take out to speed up the process, but I don't want to sacrifice the product. I give the same amount of time to a mite as I do to a pro."
McKay, who also had a McClelland mask when he played for the U.S. Hockey League's Green Bay Gamblers, has been impressed.
"He's a great artist," said McKay, whose helmet has hawk claws on the front, the school seal up the middle and also includes Miami's motto — "Prodesse Quam Conspici," which translates "To accomplish without being conspicuous."
McKay has done both this season, accomplishing a 4-2-2 record while standing out in his vibrant red-and-white mask.
"I always get great feedback on his work," McKay said.