The talk of the independent professional hockey world has been Saturday’s game between the Columbus River Dragons and the Port Huron Prowlers.
It was an 11-9 game with 105 shots on goal, and that wasn’t even close to the craziest thing about the game. That would be that the Prowlers had to sign a fourth goalie after their three in town for the series were all injured over the first two games, then had to sign the team’s broadcaster, Jeremy Skiba, as an emergency backup goalie.
He then called the game from the bench on the Prowlers’ Mixlr internet radio channel, creating one of the most crazy, chaotic, hilarious, and awesome broadcasts we’ve ever heard in any sport.
Well, we had the chance to chat with Jeremy about the experience and night he’ll never forget. Jeremy came to the Prowlers before the start of the season after working in the athletics department at Harvard. He’s originally from New York, moved to New Jersey at a young age, played youth ice hockey, and continued to play street and intermural hockey in college.
BLH: When did you find out you were going to have to be the EBUG for the Prowlers?
Jeremy: I found out Friday night actually. After the 9-0 loss, Kaukkila and Santaguida were both hurt and we had Kelly Curl was on the way. Joe Pace literally told me before we got to the hotel that he wanted to sign me as an emergency back up goalie. I asked him maybe 10 times if he was serious and each time he said yes and I said, “alright this opportunity is never gonna happen again, I’ll do it!” I had always joked with Joe and Matt about being an emergency backup goalie in the past but I couldn’t believe it was really going to happen. The next day before lunch, Matt Graham gave me a call to come down to the hotel lobby and all the paper work was drawn up. I signed the contract and just couldn’t believe it was going to happen.
BLH: So you knew well in advance and had time to mentally prepare. But, what was your first thought on what it meant for the broadcast of the game?
J: Well, originally I wasn’t going to broadcast because I didn’t know if there were outlets near the bench or if we had extension chords. But when Matt told everyone about the idea, Joe said he had some extension chords and I wanted to make it work. I knew nothing like this had been done in the past, so I knew a broadcast would make history and be such a cool experience for the players and fans. I was pumped once everything was set up for the game as I’ve always wanted to be on the bench for a game and see what it’s like.
BLH: So the game gets going, what’s it like trying to call a game from the bench? What was cool about it and what were some of the challenges from that perspective?
J: It’s pretty intense. Sometimes I’d get distracted by what the guys were saying or yelling and I’d stop talking in my tracks to listen or to be quiet for them. The other difficult thing was the angles. Guys would lean over the bench at times so seeing the bottom corners of the rink was troublesome at times. But it was so special to be right up there in the action. The guys enjoyed it and loved taking over when they could, whether it Joe Pace or Dalton Jay, everyone had a good time with the broadcast and it created some good ol’ unfiltered action.
BLH: That leads into my next question, how crazy was it that Joe Pace or others would take over the mic and add their thoughts and that?
J: I loved it. I wasn’t expecting it to happen but I’m so glad it did. This team has so many personalities that fans sometimes may not see or hear, and that was awesome to have come out on Saturday night. It was so much fun when it happened and when it did I just let whoever it was do their thing. If a player wanted to get in on the broadcast, I wasn’t going to say no.
BLH: So we always ask this to every EBUG we talk to: Was there any part of you hoping you’d somehow end up having to play, or were you content on the bench calling the game?
J: So when Joe first said that he wanted to sign me as the EBUG, I immediately thought of Jorge Alves from the Carolina Hurricanes who played the last seven seconds of their game against Tampa Bay. So in the back of my mind, I would’ve been excited for that to happen to me, no question. When we decided to do the broadcast, the thought was still in mind especially since the game was so close. We ended up pulling in Kelly at the end which I knew meant the Alves scenario wouldn’t happen but I was content with knowing that doing the broadcast as an EBUG was something that was so special, and I was so glad we did it.
BLH: So talk about that game, an 11-9 game, the team down to what, 12 skaters, you on the bench as the EBUG and still calling the game, the team on its fourth goalie in 3 days, have you ever seen anything like that or been part of anything even close to as crazy as that night was?
J: No, I have never seen or been a part or seen anything so crazy. Joe told me the day before that it happens every season where teams will have injuries that can’t be filled or guys can’t make trips. But by Saturday with all the injuries, it seemed so quiet anytime we took the bus to the rink or lunch. I had a lot of room in the corner of the bench Saturday which was another reason why the broadcast happened since I wasn’t in the way of players.
BLH: Last thing, but with the way that broadcast went, is there any thought to doing it again from the bench in the future or just a one-time thing you’ll never forget?
J: Well a lot of things had to happen for this to come to fruition. We had a great response on the broadcast and we have talked about doing it again in the future. For right now, we don’t have plans too. But never say never!
Big thank you to Jeremy for taking time to discuss the amazing experience that was Saturday night, and a big thumbs up as well to the Prowlers for actually wanting to do the broadcast from the bench, and the Columbus River Dragons for helping them figure out a way to make it happen!