I know that broadcasting is only my part-time gig, or to use the appropriate term, freelance gig. However, when you cover a team at home on a regular basis you tend to get immersed in the product, spending copious amounts of time researching the team the Ice Dogs are facing, as well as any relevant information about the Dogs themselves. Faced with the Dogs on a five game road trip, and two weeks between broadcasts, what is a guy to do? Sure, I could follow the Dogs on the road, but with a nine month old whose first excursion to an OHL game lasted one period, taking the family to a game did not seem overly feasible.
Outside of trying to follow the Ice Dogs, I booked myself a nice day in which I broadcast four university games in one day. Two were basketball, and two were volleyball. It seemed like a good idea at the time.....Here's a diary of the two weeks without an Ice Dogs broadcast...
Thursday February 9th - The tail end of the Ice Dogs 11-0 mauling of the suddenly toothless Majors, which are by the way, a nightmare to broadcast and no fun at all. By the third period I felt like I was kicking a puppy as the score mounted. Somehow the Majors win their last two games of the weekend to go 2-1, despite giving up an 11 spot. That's junior hockey in a nutshell. Teenagers have the shortest memories!
Saturday February 11th- Ice Dogs visit Barrie, but its the same day that the Leafs are playing the Canadians on Mats Sundin night. The Leaf game, and the ageless baritone of Bob Cole, win the day. This would be a decision I would soon regret as the Leafs played abysmally, costing me not one, but two different bets. Pretty sure that I saw Mats Sundin booing the Leafs as the 2nd period came to end. In a touching moment, the Habs allowed Tomas Kaberle to take the ceremonial opening face off. Kaberle won the face off, skated into good shooting position and passed the puck. At least that's how I remembered it. Meanwhile a quick check sees the Ice Dogs taking care of Barrie 3-0, another shut out for Mark Visentin and I almost see TSN cuing up the "Redemption Song" for Visentin.
Sunday February 12th: Every time I watch an Oshawa game, two things come to mind. The first thing are fond memories as I got my OHL start in the 'Shwa and the GM Centre is truly a jewel of an arena, with a fan base full of characters, though not necessarily teeth. The second thing that comes to mind is a sigh of relief as I don't have to make the dreaded catwalk excursion. Trust me I'm not the only one to think this. How could they build an arena without easy access to the media suites? As for the game itself, the man with the magic touch, Brett Ritchie, notched his 4th game winning goal since joining the Ice Dogs on route to a 4-3 win. The Gens always play the Ice Dogs tough and the game marked the first regulation win for the Dogs in Oshawa.
Monday February 13th- After majorly screwing up the first two Valentines my now wife and I spent together, I've been pretty good the past three. This time I decided to be proactive and returned home with flowers, the day before Valentines Day. I'd like to say it was a bold, romantic, surprising gesture on my part, but I figured my wife would not open the door if I had them delivered, leaving a bunch of flowers sitting forlornly on the front porch. A quick card search reveals no dogs doing funny things, so no card! Continuing to spread the joy, the best panzerotti's on the planet are on the menu the next day. That's Valentino's with two locations in Hamilton, in case they want to comp me my next panzerotti's.
Wednesday February 15th- Ice Dogs visit Erie with no TV, and with radio not being an option, time for Twitter to follow. Here's hoping Johnny The SuperFan is at the game to provide instant updates. The Ice Dogs had a 1-0 lead at the end of two periods and something like a 42-11 shots on goal difference. Surely the Ice Dogs will blow the doors off this one in the 3rd period right? right? How about a 16 year old goalie standing on his head while the Ice Dogs give up a late power play goal to lose 2-1. Aah life in Junior hockey!
Friday February 17th- A little Ice Dogs vs Sudbury is on the docket. That's an arena I have to get to, if only to see the giant stuffed wolf that comes down every time Sudbury scored. I still love hearing the story of how a friend of broadcast partner Ed Burkholder has his master bedroom decorated in head to toe wolf! That is classic. The Ice Dogs are out of the gate quickly with a 3-0 lead and hockey wrongs are righted as Joel Wigle engages in a spirited scrap with Brody Silk, the same Brody Silk who with great vengeance smited Ryan Strome. The ensuing surgery rendered Strome better than before, and he was hardily a back end of a bus to begin with. A flurry by the Wolves is neutralized by the Ice Dogs and a 5-2 win is snared, which is a quality win over a quality opponent.
Saturday February 18th: Yep, four games in one day, a real test for the old voice. Fortunately the games are at my favourite place, McMaster University and I'm calling basketball and volleyball, two great sports to call live. A good day overall as the McMaster Marauders won three of the four games, sweeping the two basketball games and splitting the two volleyball games. As I hav been broadcasting at Mac in one way shape or form for the last 20 odd years, lots of old friends to catch up with. No Peter Brady type voice slip ups and all is pretty good, except for the journey home where the first thing that happens when I walk in the door is a get a 9 month old that has been bouncing off the walls for much of the day and is up way past its bedtime. 11:30 is the time the little one settles down after a decent bout of crying. A quick reveal of the Ice Dogs reveal a tidy 3-0 victory in Sault Ste Marie in which Mark Visentin sets an OHL shut out record with 10 in a season and has a tidy 16 game personal winning streak on the go
Other Things on the Schedule: A quick embarrassing secret to reveal that I did not include the fact that Friday night should mean party night, but in all actuality means "Dateline Night" and I was embarrassed to admit that I faithfully watch the Bachelor and Monday Night Raw every Monday Night until Twitter revealed to me that a number of Ice Dog players fully admit to watching both shows, so I feel immense pride and can hopefully keep my manhood intact. Oh, by the way I also regularly watch The Voice, Survivor and American Idol, a TV scholar I am not.
This week it's back to Ice Dogs broadcasts on Thursday and Sunday, with two more basketball play off games in between, and American Idol, The Voice and Survivor are already recorded on the PVR.