Behind the Mask with trav4oilers
I’m starting something new here on the Washed Up Goalie blog. I was looking on Instagram, seeing some of the photos of personas I enjoy, but the journalist in me wanted to know more about them. I reached out to some folks, and to my surprise they responded back rather quickly, and were excited about the project.
For my first Instagram profile I catch up with a guy who has some of the wildest pads on social media – trav4oilers.
Travis Ridgen, better known as trav4Oilers was working as a in a restaurant as a line cook with his friend Andrew Thompson, when Thompson said, “F*** I hate this. I’d do anything but this.” Ridgen told him about his content ideas, and little did the two know, but that was the birth of a social media influencer. Thompson is the man, and sometimes voice, behind the camera, Ridgen them one in front.
I call Ridgen a social media influencer, but he doesn’t see himself as one, saying, “If you compare my “content” to the other influencers and celebrities there is nothing in common. They all do great things but have very specific strategies behind how they post, why they post, and who is influencing them (sponsorship wise). I kinda post whatever. I think of myself as any other consumer so I’ll post game action pics, drills, new gear I get, videos with the boys, etc. I just love sharing my love and passion for this game.”
I’d argue that it is that passion of his that makes him an influencer. He thinks like all of us hockey fans, specifically goalies, and shares what he’d like to see. Lucky for him, we find it interesting.
Ridgen says he skated for the first time when his dad took him, skating with the assistance of a chair. He has been playing hockey since he was 4-years-old, but didn’t put the pads on till he was 10.
As a young goalie he was a fan of Jose Theodore in part because he was a full right goalie like himself, and he liked his style of play, but it was Miikka Kiprusoff and his play during the Flames Stanley Cup run in 2004 that made him want to become a goalie.
As he has gotten older, Ridgen spent the last few seasons playing junior hockey in Canada, even playing a few minutes in the WHL. He also got a call to take part in the L.A. Kings emergency backup open tryout. Having documented his journey to L.A.
Ridgen caught some flack for making the trip, knowing he wouldn’t be able to fulfill the expectations of showing up for Kings home games. Some argued he took the tryout spot from somebody who could have been the emergency goalie. As someone who works in marketing I argue that the Kings knew what they were doing – getting P.R. coverage. Because of that negative reaction, Ridgen says it’s one of the videos he isn’t a fan of, saying, “ever since then everybody locally and online wants to talk about it and label me as ‘the guy that tried out for the LA kings’.”
Ridgen said that he was pretty relaxed leading up to the tryout, but was using a new chest protector. He also had to use a new stick thanks to the airlines losing his sticks. The airline did make things right though in paying for a new twig. Ridgen says he ate great too while in L.A. thanks to the family that was gracious enough to let him stay with them for a few days. “The fed me a great Mexican style breakfast,” Ridgen said.
This fall Ridgen will be playing for Vancouver Island University (VIU). He says he chose the college because he wanted to stay closer to home, and staying in Canada was a bonus. He will be majoring in business, having taking one year of classes back home while playing junior hockey, but is looking forward to grow and develop his game.
College hockey can be an adjustment for a lot of players because the schedule is more like football in that games are typically on Friday and Saturday nights. I loved this as it led to a very structured practice routine throughout the week. Ridgen admits that’ll be a transition for him, in part because he is going from driving two hours one way to the rink for 8:00 p.m. practice twice a week in the cold Manitoba winters to walking 10 minutes to the wink three to four times a week in a climate that isn’t as harsh.
When asked who his favorite goalie is these days, Ridgen said Braden Holtby because he is so calm, and in control. He also enjoys watching Jon Gilles and Connor Hellebuyck as well.
If you’ve followed Ridgen long enough you’ll also know he has a friendship with Roberto Luongo, a goalie I haven’t been a fan of for many years, but the older I get, and the more I get to know about him off the ice, he is becoming one of my favorite goalies. “He is a great guy, class act and I can’t thank him enough for the hospitality and what he’s done for me. I will never be able to repay him.
If there is one thing that can be said about Ridgen’s social media content, it is that he consistently puts out original content. He doesn’t have huge gaps between posting, and they’re always entertaining. Interestingly enough he doesn’t see himself as a social media influencer or social celebrity.
“ If you compare my ‘content’ to the other influencers and celebrities there is nothing in common. They all do great things but have very specific strategies behind how they post, why they post, and who is influencing them (sponsorship wise). I kinda post whatever. I think of myself as any other consumer, so I’ll post game action pics, drills, new gear I get, videos with the boys, etc. I just love sharing my love and passion for this game.”
I think it’s that sense of being one of the guys that makes Ridgen’s content so relevant. He is speaking to the hockey fan, because he is a hockey fan – not being directed by corporate dollars on what to talk about, or say.
Ridgen acknowledges that coming up with content on a regular basis is tough. Heck, that’s one of the reasons I came up with this idea. He gives a lot of credit to the already mentioned Thompson, saying he not only makes things 10-times easier handling the video side of things, but he also comes up with content ideas.
“Andy and I come up with a lot of good stuff usually by ourselves. Most guys on YouTube or social media will tell you that they don’t watch other people’s content cause they’re too “busy”. We spend so much time watching other YouTubers or social media people to get inspired. So many great ideas and great content being shared now a days, only make sense to get inspired by that,” Ridgen said.
One of my favorite parts of Ridgen’s YouTube channel has to be his game footage. In fact it inspired me to bring my scratched GoPro to my games. This last year the KJHL had issues with him sharing game footage on his own platforms. This coming season though the game footage will return. Ridgen can confirm that he has spoken with VIU officials, and the league, and they’re OK with him using his GoPro. The only caveat is that he has to make sure he represents his school and league well.
“It’s a privilege to be able to do what I do and represent the program and league,” he said.
Game footage isn’t the only video on Ridgen’s YouTube channel. He has a number of product reviews as well. He says he tries to be honest with his reviews as he sees himself as a typical consumer so he wants to share what he thinks he’d want to know about a product.
One of the products we got to learn about this year was his unique looking Brian’s goalie pads and gloves. The design was a mix between Trevor Kidd and Felix Potvin. He says he always wanted the checkers after collecting Kidd cards with his dad, but hates wearing what everybody else is wearing, so in came the Potvin flair.
Of all the videos he has shared. Ridgen says that his favorites have to be the junior hockey vlogs, and his college recruitment trip. “I love sharing real deal hockey, and allowing people to follow my journey. Hopefully producing this content over the next 5 years will open up some minor pro or semi pro opportunities,” Ridgen said.
Living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, the Let’s Play Hockey Expo in St. Paul that is put on every year during the Minnesota Boy’s High School Hockey State Tournament is a spectacle in its own right. This year Ridgen made the journey south from Manitoba to take it in.
After seeing all that the expo had to offer, Ridgen said the TRUE Hockey booth was a highlight as he got to see first hand the technologies they’re bringing to the game. He also enjoyed meeting some of the other social ‘celebrities’ like Coach Jeremy from Hockey Shot, Pavel Barber and Chris Kibui from Hockey Tutorial who flew in all the way from England for the fun. If there was one booth that blew him away though it was the Sparx skate-sharpening booth.
A trip to Minnesota for hockey fun wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Bauer Experience store near the Mall of America, and Ridgen made sure to check the place out. They even let him try some of the pads on their demo ice rink.
“The staff there was very nice to me in regard to filming, and allowing me to try on gear. Any place where I can get access to so many sets, sticks, etc. I’m in heaven,” Ridgen said.