Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for TBO.com on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.
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Collect call: Between the Pipes
Posted May 3, 2012 by Bob D'Angelo
Updated May 4, 2012 at 12:13 AM
For its 10th anniversary set of Between the Pipes hockey, In The Game has produced a set that will please hockey fans in varying degrees. Set collectors will enjoy the nearly 70 percent completion rate, while relic and autograph chasers will have some nice cards to discover.
A hobby box contains 18 packs with nine cards in each pack, and the 200-card base set contains goaltenders from all professional leagues. The first 63 base cards are Future Star cards of goalies from the AHL and CHL.
Cards 64 through 99 are Stars of the Game cards, Other subsets honor goaltenders from different decades, U.S. stars and Canadian heroes. Expansion Tandems, International Pioneers and a One Game Wonder card rounded out the base set.
A fair amount of the images in the first 100 cards seem to be head shots of goalies. Certainly, there are action shots, but I would have liked to have seen more of them. Images of goalies with their masks on top of their heads are not that exciting; card No. 91, of Jonathan Quick, is a perfect example. I know it’s probably difficult to get action shots of goalies at the minor-league level, so it’s really not so much of a complaint as it is an observation.
The box I sampled yielded 138 of the 200 base cards, with no duplicates. As a set builder, I love that sort of collation.
The decoy cards In The Game used lived up to their billing. The “He Shoots — He Saves” cards are a perfect foil for pack searchers, and hey, it makes a nice-looking puzzle, too, since there are images on the card fronts. There were 15 decoy cards in the set, so you can probably guess how many relic cards were in this box.
Of the inserts I saw, hands down the nicest ones were the Masked Men 4 cards. I pulled three from the hobby box I saw, and two of them were designed with eye-catching red foil. Also, those two were die-cuts, but very subtle — you had to look for a minute to realize that the card was cut into a “10” to commemorate the 10th year of Between the Pipes. The third Masked Men 4 card was a full card and had a silver front. Very sharp.
There were two 10th Anniversary insert cards in the box, with a large “10” on the card with the image of the goalie positioned inside the zero. Kind of subtle, too; after all, every goalie works to achieve a shutout.
The autograph and relic cards are nice. The hobby box I sampled contained two autographs. Both were Future Stars: Robert Mayer of the Hamilton Bulldogs, and Nathan Lieuwen of the Kootenay Ice. Love the name of that city, which is located in southeastern British Columbia. Both autographs dominated the card; Mayer chose to put his No. 29 inside his autograph. Lieuwen’s signature reminded me of a runaway game of Hangman, but it was certainly distinctive. Interestingly enough, I pulled the Mayer autograph from the first pack I opened, and the Lieuwen signature from the last one.
There were three relic cards. The first was a Cup Tandem, four swatch card of Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas and Providence Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (I kind of wished Tuukka played for Kootenay, but that’s just my mind doing weird leaps ...). The swatches are divided evenly between the two goalies, with Thomas sporting black and gold while Rask’s game-used swatches were white and black.
The second relic card was a Journey Jersey dual of Phil Myre. This card shows off a white swatch from his days with the Atlanta Flames and a red one from his tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The third relic is an Anniversary Jumbo Jersey and Stick card of Henrik Lundqvist. The white jersey swatch is large, and the stick also appears to be bleach white. Lovely card, although I believe the white background of the card detracts from the overall look. Perhaps a different color background or a color other than white for the swatch or stick would have worked better.
The inserts and hot cards carry the day for this set. Hockey lovers will enjoy the bright Masked Men 4 inserts, and the relic and autograph cards are handsome. The base set has interesting players and combinations, and the design is functional.