Returning for season two with the Calgary Inferno

Last year,  I embarked on new and unfamiliar territory when I put on a headset to be the play-by-play voice of the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

Calgary Inferno - 2016/2017 season

WinSport – Arena A of the Markin MacPhail Centre during warm-up ahead of an Inferno game. (Sandra Prusina)

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to call hockey games. It seemed like a pipe dream though. Everyone in Canada wanted to do hockey play-by-play and combine that with being a woman, reality set in that it would never happen.

I’ve been in broadcasting and journalism for nearly a decade and while I greatly enjoy my radio career and the travels I’ve had to three Olympics, the yearning for being the voice of a hockey team was always in the back of my mind. It was an honour to receive a message from the CWHL asking if I wanted to be involved with the Inferno.

I studied the players and the teams, but that wasn’t enough preparation for the task at hand. Even though hockey is a fast game, I had to learn that trying to speak all the time wasn’t doing me or the viewers any favours. Many years ago, a journalism instructor taught me that when communicating, make what you say poignant and make it count. It took me awhile to adapt that to my play-by-play style. Oh, and if I had a nickel for every time I said “the ice” or “the zone” in my first few broadcasts, I’d be a rich girl.

I’ll also be the first to admit that I struggled with some name pronunciations. In particular, I feel bad for then-rookie Iya Gavrilova, whose last name I must’ve said differently each time. Her family watching back home in Russia likely cringed.

It took me the whole season to figure out what was easiest for me in terms of numbers and names. While I knew the Calgary players, I had to quickly adapt to the other teams. Holding my roster sheet during calling the game was a guide, almost a safety blanket, and I was okay with that. It made me feel comfortable.

While I did receive mostly positive feedback at season’s end, I wondered what was in the cards for the future. There were on-air blunders, many of which I recall vividly. Would the Inferno call me back? How did the CWHL feel? The summer rolled on and I came to the realization that this was likely going to be a ‘one and done’ situation. Even if it was, I was grateful to live out a dream I had since I was a little girl: I was the voice of a professional hockey team playing out of an incredible facility at WinSport’s Markin McPhail Centre – home of Hockey Canada.

It was a thrill last week to receive an email from the new general manager of the Inferno asking if I wanted to come back for the 2017-2018 season. With it being an Olympic year, there will be a lot to learn and I’m ready to embrace that challenge.

Calgary Inferno - 2016/2017 season

My first season as the voice of the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. (Sandra Prusina)

 

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