Bears defenseman Brett Flemming races up ice to chase down Admirals forward Luca Caputi in Friday night action at Norfolk Scope. Photo courtesy John Wright.
Good morning from Norfolk Scope!
Last night, the Hershey Bears were defeated by a score of 5-1 against a Norfolk Admirals team that may very well have played their best game of the season.
First, some lineup notes. Just prior to pre-game skate, we learned of a minor injury to winger Garrett Mitchell – which, although only expected to have sidelined him last night, ended his run of playing in every game this season (57). Mitchell has indeed been a marathon man for the Bears and has found his groove very well this season. We certainly hope to have an update for you on Mitchell later this morning. I was told that the injury is very minor and is upper-body.
The Bears did see one key injury absence come to an end this week. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov, sidelined since December 6, is on this road trip – and took the Friday morning skate with his teammates. The one thing that I really liked was the fact that he was the last player off of the ice, by his own choosing. Usually, players who aren’t in that night’s lineup are “bag-skated” – they work with a coach doing skating drills and sprints to get in a last blast of cardiovascular activity. Orlov was on the ice by himself, even after helping the rookies pile up the practice pucks, working on his skating. Encouraging, indeed.
The last I had heard yesterday, the likelihood of Orlov getting into Saturday night’s rematch against Norfolk is very good. It would be an ironic return, as Orlov’s last game was played at Verizon Center – in the house where he was expected to be playing permanently – against Norfolk.
The injury to Mitchell and the continued resting of Orlov brought Brett Flemming into the game as a seventh defenseman. Flemming had a pretty good game at Scope the last time he was here.
Now, back to last night. The Bears had trouble finding any kind of open ice, when the two teams were actually skating full strength. A large portion of the game was interrupted by penalties – many of which were taken by the visitors – a span which kept the Bears penalty kill on the ice for a long time and allowed the Admirals to take control of the match.
The lone bright spot, offensively anyway, was Jeff Taffe. His torrid goal scoring in March continued when he made a nice play at the Norfolk blue line to hold a steal onside. He then took two strides, wound up and bombed a slapper past Frederik Andersen to get the Bears on the board. At that point, the Bears trailed 2-1 but were being doubled in shots on goal. That is a situation that is nothing new – the Bears were outshot in 38 of the 57 games prior to yesterday, and went 20-14-2-2 in them.
Taffe unfortunately was called for embellishment when the team was down 3-1, a time that the Bears needed another chance on the power play. I don’t believe I have ever seen an embellishment call made in a Bears game that I’ve done, let alone one on a stand-up player like Taffe. But I know I’ve never seen back-to-back embellishment penalties in a game, when Devante Smith-Pelly apparently theatrically drew a hooking call on Boyd Kane. Honestly, I didn’t see that one either.
The one thing the Bears couldn’t do yesterday, like they did last weekend, was tie the game. Twice last weekend when the Bears trailed after one period, the team won. But the club is still void of a win when trailing after two (0-18-0-2). Norfolk played an aggressive forechecking game once again; Frederik Andersen made the saves in the few times he was challenged; and the Admirals won on special teams.
The Bears will need a much more disciplined effort tonight, and will need to quickly shake off and forget yesterday.
The Bears will not have a morning skate today, only a quick team meeting before lunch. Puck drops tonight at 7:15. Air time on the Bears Radio Network is at 6:35.
And air time on ABC-27.2 is at 7:00.
See all those different times? Have you ever wondered how a hockey simulcast goes, or think that it’s simply talking on television and radio at the same time?
You’re partially correct.
I thought I would take a few minutes to answer a bunch of questions together in one lump – questions regarding how my “typical” road game day goes, how I can jump on Twitter and Facebook while I broadcast, and how a simulcast works.
To begin, NONE of my days are “typical”. Yesterday, for example, started with wakeup at 7:30am. Equipment Manager Justin Kullman and I walked the 15-minute venture from our hotel to Scope (in a howling wind, I might add). Usually I walk over with coaches Mark French and Troy Mann but yesterday I needed a coffee a lot earlier. After we arrived, I fired up the computer and wrote the game notes – two full pages of statistics, standings, news and notes about both teams.
Then I lugged my radio gear up the longest set of steps in the AHL to our broadcast vantage point. I set everything up the way I like it – every broadcaster in the league has his own setup style – and then proceeded back downstairs to watch a bit of Norfolk’s morning skate. That gives us the idea of who will and won’t be in that night’s lineup.
At 10:30, coach French holds a video meeting with the team – showing them tendencies that Norfolk has on both sides of the puck, mistakes to correct, and things that were done properly the last time that the teams played. Immediately after this is when he and I do our interview that airs during the radio pre-game show. I immediately download it off of my iPhone voice recorder into my laptop, which later in the day connects right to my radio gear.
If I need, I get one of the players as well. Yesterday it was Flemming.
Then, it’s back upstairs with all of that night’s printed notes in hand. Keith Phillips, Norfolk’s public and media relations director, is one of the best there is at getting things printed and in our hands in plenty of time. I tape a few select sheets down at my table, and it’s all set for my late afternoon pre-game prep time.
The coaches and I then had lunch at the beautiful MacArthur Center in downtown Norfolk. HIGHLY recommend a trip here for anyone planning a Virginia Beach summer vacation. The downtown, with the new “Ride the Tide” trolley system, is just gorgeous now and has completely changed from several years ago.
After two hours of rest at the hotel, we all walked back to Scope and arrived around 4:30. I walked upstairs to catch up with another great friend in this business, Admirals radio voice Pete Michaud – who not only called a Calder Cup championship last season, but earned the James H. Ellery Award for oustanding radio broadcast coverage of his AHL club. I try to learn from the best there are – and he is one. We share a talk about our teams, talk about lineup scratches, and then have a pre-game meal together.
But before the meal, I walked over to my broadcast spot on press row, and found this.
This is what the equipment looks like for a simulcast. Not only is my giant radio broadcast apparatus sitting there, but so is a plethora of cabling, another monitor (the one on the right is provided by the Admirals to watch the in-house feed), and two headset-microphones and their control boxes. So much for having a comfortable area to call the game on radio, and look over my notes.
I spent the next 45 minutes trying to work with the television audio crew on getting an area that I could set up my laptop and place my notes. For radio, I use my computer to check out-of-town scores (which was a disaster last night, because the wireless internet bandwith was inhaled by the time the first intermission arrived), play interviews for our listeners, and make use of social media. With NO room for my laptop (just so you know, I had it straddled on my lap while we were live on the air), in no way was I able to tweet nor use Facebook.
Back downstairs we go for a 4:45 meeting with sports director/my color analyst Gregg Mace, producer Jay Taylor and some other members of the production crew. The biggest issue in a simulcast is trying to time everything perfectly. This was the purpose of our meeting – as well as to find out what Gregg is going to cover during pre-game, intermissions, and post-game.
That meeting took a half hour – way more than usual – but worthwhile.
Back upstairs to test out the now-connected radio link. Sounded fine. Chatted with the board operator at the Ticket, made sure that he was connected to WQIC, and made sure the commercial breaks that we took during each period were correctly in sync.
It’s now 5:45. Time to scarf down a pre-game dinner. Scope’s press room meal is always stellar – great salad bar, good food. But my Catholic background forced me to pass on the pulled pork and stick with a small salad and a scoop of macaroni and cheese. After quickly enjoying my meal with our president/GM Doug Yingst, you guessed it – back upstairs.
Keeping in mind that our radio air time is 6:50, I now had 25 minutes to update my sponsor reads, set up the interviews I recorded earlier in the day, write up some speech-type notes, put our scratches and starting goaltenders on Twitter and Facebook, and test the feed for AHL Live – all while having audio technicians standing over me trying to assess an audio/video issue.
Radio pre-game went fine. We joined television at 7:33, but – Gregg and I had no monitor (only saw color bars) and Gregg had lost communication to the production truck. At that point, I delve into my live television weather background mode and just go with the flow. That’s all you can do. But, I had to go with the flow realizing that I had to press a cough button when I wanted to talk on radio, but not television. That was done for the entire game.
Gregg then had to wrap up on TV, while I had to do a radio post-game show. So here we are, two people standing three feet apart, talking on two different mediums.
Thus the nature of a simulcast – and fans, that’s only about half of it. This is long enough.
Game notes for tonight’s rematch are forthcoming on HersheyBears.com.
Hope you can tune in.
Oh… and GO BEARS!!!!!