Offering hope
by Henrik Manninen|25 DEC 2021
Calle Clang dedicates his mask to Ella and the fight against cancer.
photo: Joel Marklund
Sweden’s U20 national team goalie Calle Clang dedicates a mask worn at the upcoming 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship to a young fan and to the battle against child cancer.

A goaltender’s mask is designed to protect its wearer. But in Clang’s case, his custom-painted mask worn for Sweden at the World Juniors will also contribute to saving others.

Teaming up with Barncancerfonden, the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund, Clang’s mask used at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Red Deer aims to help eradicate cancer among children.

Following the World Juniors, his mask will be auctioned off with the proceeds going to the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund.

When Clang, ahead of the World Juniors was asked for a personalized theme for the artwork on his new mask, the 19-year-old´s answer was found close to his heart. to show his unwavering support for 6-year-old Ella’s fight with leukemia.

“It was a natural choice to want something on my mask connected to Ella. I discussed with her family about their thoughts of what she might want on the mask, and that’s how it all began,” said Clang.

As a dedicated fan of Clang’s SHL-club Rogle Angelholm, Ella’s valiant battle against a type of cancer that affects blood cells and bone marrow has brought her very close to Clang and his fellow teammates.

“Ella, who is a very big fan of Rogle, was diagnosed with leukemia a year and a half ago. Earlier this season she came to meet us in the locker room and we gave her a few gifts such as a jersey and hockey sticks. She has since returned to visit us on a few more occasions and everyone on the team has formed a strong bond in her fight. She has undergone very tough treatments, so we have tried to give her a little joy and strength,” said Clang.

19-year-old Clang’s brand-new custom-designed mask to be worn during Sweden´s World Juniors games in Canada is the creation of David Gunnarsson, the artist behind DaveArt.

The Swedish artist has this century seen his air-brushed masterpieces grace the heads of goaltending greats across the world. On Clang’s mask, DaveArt has weaved his magic adding a creative touch to Ella’s personal story on display on the predominantly blue and yellow mask.

“When I spoke to Ella’s parents we wanted to have a portrait of Ella on one side of the mask. The other side has a drawing on made by Ella and a so-called superstring as she calls it. On this string, she has collected beads following treatments, such for instance an injection or anaesthesia. At the back of the mask, there is the logo of the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund while stars have also been added across the mask symbolizing what a little star Ella is. DaveArt has done a great job putting it all together and I am very pleased with the result," said Clang.

The artwork on the side of Clang’s mask where Ella is raising her hand is directly inspired by events from 27 November this year. Labelled as "Ella´s Day" it was part of a fundraising campaign against child cancer hosted by Rogle Angelholm. The team’s very own super-fan Ella was on centre stage and celebrated throughout the day of Rogle Angelholm’s home game in the SHL versus Leksand. Clang was in goal that Saturday afternoon as 4’950 gathered inside the newly revamped Catena Arena to welcome Ella out on the ice with both teams lining up ahead of face-off.
The original photo of Ella that made it to Clang’s mask.
photo: Rogle BK
“It had been planned for some time that this would be her day. There was a small ceremony right before the start of the game where she was celebrated. When she came out on the ice the whole arena erupted as we had scored. It was a very emotional moment as I have been very taken by her story and the tough treatment she has been having to go through. But at the same time I knew she enjoyed a wonderful day out so it felt great doing this for her,” said Clang.

Since that memorable afternoon, Rogle Angelholm has diligently continued to raise money for Ella’s charity. A version of Rogle Angelholm’s home arena built of gingerbread and Clang’s signed goalie stick has since been auctioned off with proceeds going to the Swedish Childhood Cancer Fund. Those are just a couple of the recent initiatives by Rogle Angelholm with plenty more to come.

“We will auction off Calle’s mask, a signed game jersey and are also actively selling ‘Heja Ella’ bracelets, promoted by Ella and her family. In January, we will stage another game celebrating Ella where the raised amount for her charity will also be announced,” said Rogle Angelholm’s Marketing Manager Kari Litmanen.

“Heja Ella” can be translated as “Go Ella” in English and is commonly used to cheer on sports teams and athletes in Sweden.

Strengthened by Ella’s valiant fight, Clang has so far this season made important strides in his fledgling career. He’s enjoyed his first start in the SHL on 2 October this year. On the road against Brynas Gavle he made it a night to remember, saving all five penalty shots in a 5-4 winning debut. With Rogle steaming ahead this season at the top end of the SHL and a semi-final double-header in the CHL against Frolunda Gothenburg to look forward to, Clang has so far mainly featured as a backup goalie.

“It’s been a tough few months where I’ve played less than I would have wanted. But at the same time, there is tough competition with Christoffer Rifalk, who is a top goalie. But I still think that in the games I’ve played, I have stepped into the SHL in a good way. But I would like to play more games and be a more contributing factor to our success and that’s what I wish to take back with me from the World Juniors,” he said.

A 2020 third-round NHL-draft pick for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Clang was already last season part of the Juniorkronorna roster who disappointedly exited at the quarter-final stage of the World Juniors. One year on, he is carefully confident of a significant improvement of fortunes as he aims to fight it out with Jesper Wallstedt and Jesper Vikman for a starting spot between the pipes.

“I believe we stand a good chance. We are good on our defensive and goaltending side, but we also have top players in attack with William Eklund and Alexander Holtz just to mention a couple. I think we have bonded well as a unit and play for each other. So if we just manage to do the small things right, I believe we have a good chance of going very far and our is target is gold,” said Clang.

Clang is by the way not the only Swedish goalie with a special mask. Wallstedt will honour his idol Henrik Lundqvist on his mask.