Robin Lehner sported an old mask for a few minutes this morning. ©2017, Hickling Images, Olean Times Herald

Sabres goalie Robin Lehner debuts different masks

BUFFALO – For a few moments this morning, Robin Lehner looked, well, a little scary. Instead of sporting his usual head protection at the beginning of practice, the Sabres goalie warmed up wearing a 1970s-style “Jason” mask and a winter hat.

Lehner took a few lights shots from goalie coach Andrew Allen, including one off the primitive mask.

“Old Buffalo mask, tried it on, I have a lot of respect for them,” Lehner said inside KeyBank Center. “I took one off the dome, felt pretty good. We’ll see if we can beef it up.”

Beef it up for the upcoming Winter Classic on New Year’s Day at Citi Field. Lehner would like to warm up for the outdoor game wearing the old mask, which belonged to former goalie Paul Harrison, who played six games for the Sabres in 1981-82.

“They’ll aim for my head,” Lehner joked.

Lehner said someone brought the vintage mask in and he’s “borrowing” it. Goalies stopped wearing masks with eye holes in the early 1980s.

After Lehner took the mask off, he donned the modern one he will wear for the Winter Classic. The new blue and yellow mask by David Gunnarsson, his regular artist, features legendary Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek and the Winter Classic logo.

“We all look forward to it, it’s going to be a hell of an experience,” Lehner said of the Winter Classic. “It’s something we’re all going to remember for a while.”

Lehner said he doesn’t know if he will wear any other special equipment for the outdoor game.

Sabres goalie Chad Johnson wore his new Winter Classic mask earlier this week.

In other news, Sabres coach Phil Housley hopes sending forward prospect Alexander Nylander to Team Sweden for the upcoming World Junior Championship helps jumpstart the youngster’s season.

The Sabres assigned Nylander to Sweden late Wednesday.

“All our prospects that are going to be able to play in this tournament, it really gives them a chance to represent their country and get back with some teammates that he’s played with before and familiar with,” Housley said. “Obviously, we want to see him succeed. I think you can get a big boost of confidence if your country does well.”

Nylander, 19, has two goals, six points and a minus-9 rating in 15 AHL games with the Rochester Americans this season.

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