FORT WAYNE – After 40 years of broadcasting, in which he’s become the voice of hockey in the United States, you might think doing a AA-level hockey game would be pretty easy for Mike Emrick.
But he was leaving nothing to chance this week, studying the Komets and Evansville IceMen and was making plans to see the teams practice.
It’s just Emrick’s way; he likes to be prepared. There’s also the pressure of calling a game with his mentor, Bob Chase, who is in his 60th season with Fort Wayne.
To actually share a booth with your icon, it probably will sound dramatic, but it’s like the two guys playing catch at the end of Field of Dreams.’ This was the guy I grew up listening to, Emrick said.
Emrick, who calls NHL games on NBC, grew up in Lafontaine listening to Chase on WOWO 1190 AM. That station, and 92.3 FM, will carry the game tonight – the 4,500th in franchise history – which Chase and Emrick will broadcast together.
Emrick first saw a game in person at Memorial Coliseum when he was 14, and his immediate love for it set him on the path to becoming a winner of the Lester Patrick Trophy for contributions to hockey in the U.S., and of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to broadcasting.
Chase, whom Emrick first met while attending Manchester College, won the Patrick Trophy this year.
When I was young and would go to the Coliseum, we knew the tough guys from all the other teams, Emrick said. I wish I could tell you we knew the names of a lot of the big goal scorers. But we were carnivores, and we came to see if Cal Purinton or Con Madigan would take on any of those guys from the other teams. It was fast and exciting and also rough.
If you listen to Emrick, 66, call a game, you can hear some things he borrowed from Chase, 86.
Probably one of the things that I still use and fits, even though he does it on radio and I do television, is the call on breakaways, Emrick said. Bob says, He looks, shoots, scores.’ On a play like that, you need to say something besides the player’s name to build the excitement.
Emrick, Chase and color commentator Robbie Irons don’t have a plan for how they will work the game.
I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to overwhelm probably the best hockey broadcaster in the world (with an unfamiliar league), and I wouldn’t mind doing color for him, Chase said.
I think I’ve figured it out. Mike and Robbie will do the game, and I’ll go over to the suite and get hammered. I’m only kidding, of course. This is going to be such a highlight for me.
With Evansville’s Terry Ficorelli calling the game, too, there will be 139 years of pro hockey broadcasting experience in the press box.