by Ron Spence

There are no televised hockey games – where I live in Thailand – so I have to listen to games on my computer/radio.

Snapshot 2009-06-05 17-57-49

Listening on the radio – once again – has made me appreciate good announcing and colour work.

I’ve been catching the Pens vs. Red Wings series on the Pittsburgh station, 105.9 FM “The X” (WXDX-FM), featuring Mike Lange and Phil Bourque.

Lange was saying – during game four – that the Pittsburgh police had to shut off the roads adjoining the Mellon Arena, as there were large crowds – estimated at 7000 people – watching the game outside on a 12-foot by 16-foot LED screen.

Snapshot 2009-06-05 17-59-28

Crowds used to gather – to follow hockey games – one hundred years ago as well.

If there was a hockey game that was sold out, fans would stand outside the rink, and if their team was on the road, they’d hang outside newspaper or telegraph offices, to hear the score when the operator clicked it through.

The Toronto Street Railway came up with an ingenious way of announcing the scores – in 1902 –  during Stanley Cup challenge games.

If the Toronto Wellingtons won, there’d be two long blasts, and if the Winnipeg Victorias won, there’d be three long blasts (Winnipeg won two games, so there were six blasts. It was a sign of things to come in Toronto.).

Snapshot 2009-06-05 18-01-07

I felt a type of kinship to these people as I was following an Anchorage vs. South Carolina Kelly Cup game – in Thailand.

I could get neither the Anchorage nor Charleston radio stations – on my computer – so had to follow the results on the ECHL website (see the four continuous scores above and below).

Snapshot 2009-06-05 18-03-02

The AHL’s site constantly refreshes, but the ECHL’s doesn’t.

So, I was impatiently trying to move the game along, with my refresh key, when it ground to a halt with 3 1/2 minutes to go.

Then a new Alaska goal was posted and the Aces were ahead 3-2.

The Anchorage Daily News later reported what had happened:

“The game was tied 2-2 when Stefanishion, a 6-foot-3, 225-pounder best known for his lethal slap shot, accepted a pass in the neutral zone from center Vladimir Novak. Stefanishion needed to settle the bouncing puck on his blade as he hit the South Carolina blue line — otherwise, he said, he likely would have unleashed a slapper. Instead, he marched through the defense and flicked a backhander off goalie Jonathan Boutin (36 saves) for a goal at the 16:23 mark.

“I don’t know how it went in,” Stefanishion said. “The puck bobbled, and I went by the D-man and somehow got it in the net. That’s one of the biggest goals of my life.”

The refs dropped the puck, play continued, but with seconds left, the game totally ground to a halt for some four or five minutes.

I would find out that Anchorage’s Martin, and South Carolina’s Carbery, had started scrapping at 19:54.

Then the final 6 seconds took another 5 minutes to complete.

The Daily News again explained what had happened:

An apparent tying goal by the Stingrays at the horn was immediately waved off by referee Andy Thiessen [see picture above]. Thiessen ruled the puck was batted in with a high stick as Stingrays Michael Dubuc and Brad Farynuk waved their sticks at the biscuit. It appeared, also, that time perhaps had ran out before the puck crossed the goal line behind Aces rookie goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux (20 saves).”

My conclusion?

I don’t have the patience to follow games via the refresh key.

Getting delayed summaries isn’t my idea of hockey.

After you’ve watched thousands of hockey games, scores don’t cut it.

I mean, you can miss a game in Vancouver and someone can tell you the score. But you haven’t wasted a couple of hours clicking a computer key and staring at a web home page.

Thank God there was a mini-monsoon the night after the game, and the internet was down the following day.

I couldn’t be tempted into carpal tunneling my wrist with the refresher key for the 7th and deciding Kelly Cup game.

I simply turned on my computer – when the internet was up and running – and got the score.


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