Today is the day I make my American Hockey League debut for the Hershey Bears. It won’t be the first time announcing in Giant Center, nor my first hockey game announced. There’s been over a thousand of them for USA Hockey youth, USA Hockey junior, World Police & Fire Game, college club, adult hockey leagues,
Today is the day I make my American Hockey League debut for the Hershey Bears. It won’t be the first time announcing in Giant Center, nor my first hockey game announced. There’s been over a thousand of them for USA Hockey youth, USA Hockey junior, World Police & Fire Game, college club, adult hockey leagues, sled hockey, Mid-Atlantic Prep Hockey League, Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League, Maryland Student Hockey League, women’s/girls hockey, American Special Hockey Association, inline hockey, Junior Women’s Hockey League, house games, charity events and many more.
Because of announcing hockey, I’ve announced a goalie scoring a goal…twice. It happened in the same week. I’ve seen hat tricks, shutouts, championship games, career-ending injuries, career-making games, future NHL players and have been in the presence of the Stanley Cup quite a few times. There have been local championships, national championships and high school championships. There was the year I crowd the first ever champion in one classification. There have been all-star games, and just-for-fun games. And the time I resurfaced the ice between periods of a game I was announcing.
My first hockey game announced, was a 1-0 game, the only goal was scored by Guy Cipriano of University of Virginia who wore the number 55. I remember because after his goal, a breakaway, I held up my hands holding five fingers on each and the referee gave me the thumbs up. I’d seen something similar in Springfield, Mass. earlier that season. I’ve done this same thing on unassisted goals ever since. It’s fitting that Springfield is playing Hershey, two teams I have really close ties to.
There have been high-scoring games, low-scoring games, ties, thousands of goals, great saves, penalty shots, and a few match penalties. There have been players in the penalty box who have been respectful, others not so much. There have been parents who were asked to leave, and others who were begged to stay. There were games played in single digit temperatures, and others played outside. There’s even been rain falling inside. There were games that look a little over 12 minutes to play, and others that took 12 hours. There’s been long rides to get there, and there’s been showing up and thrown behind the mic.
Today, however, is the culmination of over 20 years of hockey announcing that’s taken me to dozens of rinks in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D. C., New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and even over to England. There’s the thousands of people I’ve met over the years who have, in some way, had a small part of my success. There’s the dozens of fans who are coming to the game tonight who’ve been there, and hundreds more who know about it, can’t come but have been a huge support all these years. To all of you, I say thank you.
To my wife and kids who will be there, thanks for coming along for the ride. To my mom and dad, you took me to games as a kid and I gained my love of hockey from you. You took me to games in Hershey, Washington, Springfield and other places where I was able to learn a lot about what I do. Thank you!
It’s not like I haven’t been in professional hockey and this is a completely new venture, I have been working game operations for the Washington Capitals for the last three seasons and around the team for the last 12 in varying degrees. I still pinch myself, I still get nervous.
Mike Ross (Toronto) and Scott Bourgeois (Edmonton) made their NHL debuts this year. It’s fitting the Edmonton game was on XM last night on the way home. Andrew Imber (Florida) did so last year. Callan McClurg (San Diego-AHL) dove right in recently as well. It’s safe to say I now know how they felt before their first games. As much as I’ve announced and experienced, I still look to these and other announcers who’ve been there before me. No matter how many games I’ve done, there’s still more to learn. Never stop learning.
Today is about a dream coming true, and no matter how long you do something, you can still have dreams. This is one I thought would never come true. It’s only one game, yes. One game. But, it’s the most important game to these players, and these people, on this day. It will be treated with the respect it deserves.
The game can be seen/heard on the following: