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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

On the Bruce MacDonald

I promised you something to "chew on" today while we were on the road. It's "On the road" by Bruce MacDonald, who followed the Dogs on their most recent Sunshine Coast-Lower Mainland Roadie. He's going to be meeting the team in Penticton as well to follow them on this swing and join me on the air to do colour. He said he wanted to write something the last trip because he thought the fans would find it interesting...I hope you enjoy the read!

Off to catch the bus so I gotta hurry!

Great job Bruce!



I had the luxury of going on the road and being the colour guy with Hammer for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on 93.3 the Peak.

Friday Jan 15th: Game Day trip to Powell River

Players, team officials and Hammer meet at the multiplex at 8am and board the bus. They then travel to the Powell River Ferry in Comox. Catch the 10:10 ferry to Powell River. The team arrives in Powell River at 11:30; they head to the rink and drop off the player’s equipment. Hammer and I check out our announcing platform, just enough room for the two of us. We have been kicked out of the normal broadcast area to make room for a band that will be setting up and playing during the game.

It is now time to go to the hotel and check in. Everyone has a couple of hours of down time, and then the team meets in the restaurant at 2:30 for their pregame meal. After the meal it is rest time, Hammer goes back to the room and checks the BCHL site for any updates or league news. He then goes over his pregame intro (which he usually does the night before) and makes any necessary changes. It is then rest time until 5ish; the team then boards the bus and heads to the rink. The team arrives at the rink 2 hours before game time. Hammer takes his broad cast equipment up to the booth. Hammer interviews Nolan Graham, he will then interview a Bulldog as an intermission guest (some times he already has interviews in place which he would have done at a earlier time. After interviewing the player he then hunts down the opposing coach for his game comments which will be aired in the pregame show.

Next step is to set up the broadcast equipment and make sure everything is working properly. The home team provides updated game and league info including scratches, starting goalies, etc. (which sometimes is not accurate). Hammer then takes a break.

The next step is to find assistant coach Paul Esdale, as he has the final roster with line combo’s power play and penalty kill units. At about 17 minutes before game time, he phones the radio station and makes sure the links are connected. Hammer is on the air 15 minutes before game time; he reads his pregame intro which includes a report of both teams’ previous games. Then as a colour guy, I get a minute or two to give my perspective of the upcoming game and thoughts.

After a commercial break, he plays the first of the two coach’s pregame interview, after the first interview; there is a commercial and then the second coach’s pregame interview. As the second interview is completed, Hammer goes over both team’s line-up changes and scratches, introduces the ref and linesmen’s names. It is now national anthem time.

While doing the play by play Hammer constantly is checking on his computer for updates, emails, etc. He has to play four 30 second commercials each period-- the challenge is when to play them. They are co-ordinated with someone working back at the radio station He then picks up the play as the commercial usually is still running when play is resumed.

During the game as colour man, one of my jobs is to pick the following; crunch of the game, unsung hero and the turning point. I write down names, times, etc so I can look over the notes which helps in making the right choices (I hope).At the end of the period there is a commercial then Hammer recaps the first period stats, out of town scores, etc. He then plays one of his recorded interviews; and we have an approximate. 8-10 minute break.

For the second and third periods its basically the same as the first, do the play by play, Hammer continues to multitask, checking out of town updates, reading emails, running commercials etc. A period wrap up at the end of the second period. He then plays the other pre recorded interview, which ends just before the third period starts.

At the end of the game Hammer gives a short recap and then goes to a commercial. After the commercial he gives a total recap (goals, assists, shots on goals, etc) It is then time for Nolan Graham to go on the air with Hammer and go over the game. Then there is a commercial break. After the break it is time for the colour man to go over the three stars and comment on each one then onto picking the game awards, first is the crunch of the game, followed by the unsung hero and the games turning point (usually you pick someone who hasn’t received a game star).

Then Hammer and the Colour guy do a final wrap-up. It is then time to pack up all the broadcast equipment and head for the bus. The team then heads to a restaurant for a prearranged post- game meal. At that time Hammer writes up the next game’s pre- game intro. He also updates his blog with info regarding the day and game, including pictures and stats. After the meal the team and Hammer head back to the room, bed time. Day one of the three game road trip is completed.

Saturday Jan 16TH The Journey To Burnaby

Wake up time is 7am; time for showers, packing up and then breakfast at 7:30.The team loads the bus at 8:00am and leaves and goes to Saltery Bay (20 min drive). It’s on the 9:25 ferry to Earls Cove a 50 minute trip, with beautiful scenery along the way. Once arriving at Earls Cove, it is a 81 km drive (approx. 1 hour) to Langdale, a very twisty road. It’s about a 20 minute wait for the 12:20 ferry ride to Horseshoe Bay, a 40 minute trip. During the ferry ride some of the players, coaches, and staff get off the bus, while many stay on the bus. We arrive at Horseshoe Bay at 1pm. The team stays at the Sandman Inn. They arrive at the Inn at about 1:30. After checking in and unpacking, the team walks to The Old Spaghetti Factory a couple of blocks away; they have their pregame meal and then head back to the rooms for a rest. Hammer checks the BCHL website for updates, transactions, info, and tunes up his pregame itinerary. It’s now nap time. At 5pm we leave and head to Burnaby and arrive there at 5:30, two hours before game time. The team unloads their gear and goes through their pregame rituals. There is a buzz in the air as everyone around the rink is talking about Mitch’s run at 50 in 50, Sportsnet is there and interviews Mitch, Mark, and Nolan. I talked to past NHL player Charlie Hodge a scout for Tampa Bay who is primarily there to see Mark McMillan. Hammer sets up the broadcast booth, which is a lot like in Powell River where you need a ladder to get up to the booth. The view is somewhat limited, especially for me. Hammer goes through his normal pregame routine interviewing Nolan then new player Ryan Renz and finishes off with Burnaby’s new coach former NHL player Darcy Rota, who has taken over the reins that day from Dave McLellan. Hammer then goes to Paul Esdale, the Bulldogs assistant coach for the line up power play and penalty kill units. It’s time for a break before getting back to the booth with about 17 minutes before game time. Hammer then makes sure the link between the radio station and the broad cast booth is working. With 15 minutes left before game time Hammer reads out his pre game intro, then I give my pre game thoughts and keys of the game. Then both coaches’ interviews are aired with a commercial break in between.

Back on the air live just before the National Anthem Hammer gives everyone the last minute line up changes etc, and the ref and linesmen for the game.

The game now starts and Hammer continues to amaze me how he can call the game while continually checking out of town scores, emails, etc. It at times was a hard game to call as it lacked intensity and flow. The game was a very close checking affair and the Dogs squeaked out a 1-0 win with Scott Lewan getting the shootout. There would be no post game comments from the coaches this game. Hammer and I did the post game wrap up and awards. Sometimes the toughest games to play are the ones against a so called weak opponent and tonight was that case. Back on the bus the team will have pizza for a post game meal which is delivered to the bus before departure. Back to the Sandman and bed time, Sunday’s game is a 2:00 start vs. Langley.

Sunday, Jan. 17TH 2:00 Game In Langley

Today’s game is the biggest of the year; you have the Dogs on a 13 game win streak and Langley on a 12 game win streak. Being that the rink is only 5 minutes away everyone gets to sleep till 8:30ish with breakfast being served at 9:45. The team rests until noon when they load the bus and head to the awesome Langley Events Centre. The complex is unreal; it has gyms, pools, a basket ball gym, and many more amenities. The rink has many private boxes and a million dollar score clock with a huge four sided screen. The broadcast area has all the newest technology with a $250,000 computer system which runs the clock, screens and many more things in the complex. Hammer and I will enjoy doing the game from such a great broadcast booth, no rafters, pillars or ladders. They actually have an elevator to go up to the booth if you so wished! The dogs go through their pregame routine of warming up, stretching before they put on their gear for the pre-game skate. Hammer hunts down his interview guests and I take a tour of the facility.

With 15 minutes before game time Hammer goes through his pregame intro, interviews, updates, line-ups, etc. Matt Hatch and Sam Mitchell will not play as they were injured in the game in Burnaby the night before. The first period was back and forth with both teams scoring one goal. The 2nd period turns out to be a memorable one as Mitch scores goals 49 and 50 in his 49th game early in the period. The Dogs controlled the play and led 5-1 after 2 periods. The 3rd period was a parade to the penalty box for Langley and the Dogs scored 3 power play- goals en route to an 8-2 win. One streak ends at 12 and the Dogs extend theirs to 14. Hammer does his post game wrap, and heads to the bus.

It’s a happy bus ride to the 7pm Horseshoe Bay Ferry (4th ferry trip in 3 days). The team eats on the ferry--it’s been 8 hours since their last meal, a very hungry bunch. The bus arrives at the multiplex at 10 pm. A tired but happy group heads back to their own beds, as Monday is practice day being that the interior’s #1 team Vernon will be in town for a big game on Tuesday night.

Being on my first road trip with the team, it was very interesting to see how structured and organized the team is. Everyone from the coaches, trainers, Hammer and players are on a tight schedule especially with 3 games in 2 and a half days. It leaves little or no time for anything but travel, rest, food, and hockey. I found it a lot of fun but at the same time realized Hammer’s work load as he has to put together the broadcast and its entire itinerary, organizing info, interviews, pre and post game shows, game recaps, etc. It was a true experience and something I would do again in a heartbeat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Bruce, don't you work anymore? LOL.