markstromzlatan.jpgJacob Markstrom has one of the most unique goalie mask designs of the World Cup. USATSI

Henrik Lundqvist was forced out of Sweden’s lineup for the team’s first game of the World Cup of Hockey against Russia. That opened the door for Jacob Markstrom of the Vancouver Canucks to take his spot between the pipes.

Not only was it a big opportunity for Markstrom to show what he can do on a big international stage, it was our first chance to get a good look at his awesome goalie mask, which may feature the most unique design of any mask in the tournament.

The lid, painted by renowned goalie mask artist David Gunnarsson, prominently features Swedish soccer legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The likeness of the Manchester United forward appears on both sides of the mask and also includes some depictions of his great moments playing for Sweden.

The mask also features Sweden’s three crowns — the emblem for all of its teams — and Markstrom’s unique jersey number for a goalie – 25. Here’s a closer look via Gunnarsson’s Instagram, which features all of his work:

There are plenty of Swedish hockey greats Markstrom could have honored, but it’s hard to argue with going with one of the all-time greats in Sweden’s athletic history.

Perhaps inspired by Zlatan’s greatness, Markstrom didn’t just look good on Sunday, he played a strong game as well. The unexpected starter made 27 saves in a 2-1 win over Russia to put Sweden in the driver’s seat to finish first in Group B.

Source: CBS Sports Headlines / LOOK: Sweden goalie Jacob Markstrom’s World Cup of Hockey mask honors Zlatan