By John Giustino
More often than not when one think of hockey, they envision five skaters on the ice and a goalie for each team fighting a new battle every game for glory and a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup. Hockey has several simultaneously moving parts, and that includes important people a few levels up from the ice as well. I recently interviewed the hockey game presentation coordinator for the Canisius Golden Griffins, game presentation coordinator for the Buffalo Junior Sabres, men’s ice hockey director of game presentation for the Buffalo Bulls, director of game presentation for the 2016-2017 champion Buffalo Beauts as well as the public address announcer and D.J. at HarborCenter, Mr. Ryan Burgess.
Q: To start, every team has preparation, for you, be it the Junior Sabres, Bulls, Beauts or Griffins, what things do you need to do before every game to be ready?
A:The first thing I do (usually in the morning) is look over the rosters to see if there’s any changes or clarifications I need w/ regard to pronunciation. I try really hard to get everyone’s name right.
When I get to the rink, I’ll set my gear up (since I run the music as well), and make sure my programs are cued correctly for the team I’m working for.
I’ll also get my script and start filling information in as I get it (like starting lineups & referees).
So, it’s really four main things: name pronunciations, assign/update music if needed; fill in the script, and take care of my voice. I usually do some tea with honey.
Q: Out of the organizations you work with, which is the most challenging?
A: I’d say Canisius is the most challenging. Plenty of reads in that I have to get through…plus, coordinating with the pep band.
Q: When running music and choosing what to play, can it be anything or does it have to fit within certain types of music?
A: I like to give my games a heavier feel-I dig classic rock with a little bit of current stuff for the fans. I really like to tailor my music to what will keep my guys pumped up-my theory is that the fans will get the same type of investment.
Q: So then what’s your absolute favorite part of working with the organizations?
A: It’s the knowing that I’m making a difference in their game experience-for both the players and the fans. It reflects on the team in both the fans’ eyes (they’re gonna want to come back because they had a good time), and in the teams’ eyes because the experience can help recruit players & make the team better on-ice.
While the puck flies and players collide on the ice, the presentation and production is irrefutably vital to the overall success of each game played. A high quality event all around will keep players and fans happy alike and will result in more positive feedback as well as returning fans to more games if excellence is reflected not only on the ice, but upstairs as well. The preparation is lengthy and imperative, but the impact it makes come game time will be received well and greatly appreciated.