SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross’ Twitter handle @Buccigross is a safe haven for one of sport’s most passionate fan bases – hockey fans. NHL fans participate in the popular #Bucciovertimechallenge, college supporters debate impromptu rankings and pond hockey enthusiasts submit their personal photos.
On Saturday, Buccigross will need more than 140 characters to express himself as the play-by-play man for No. 10 Michigan’s game at Penn State (ESPNU/WatchESPN, 5 p.m. ET) alongside analyst Dave Starman.
Leaving St. Lawrence U for Penn State. Need ticket for tonight. Calling tomorrow’s Michigan/PSU game on ESPNU at 5pm #buccihighwaychallenge — John Buccigross (@Buccigross) February 7, 2014
Front Row caught up with Bucci as he made the trek from Canton, N.Y., to Happy Valley, Pa.
How do you prepare to call a game featuring teams you’re seeing for the first time in person? By mastering the roster of both teams, which is vital to having a good hockey broadcast. College hockey play-by-play broadcasters tend to not identify the players. Not doing so takes away from the telecast and is a disservice to the student-athletes.
Once you’re in Happy Valley, how does preparation for the telecast continue? Essential in the game prep is the production meeting. I will sit down with [Michigan head coach] Red Berenson and [Penn State head coach] Guy Gadowsky. They will provide insight on their rosters and what each player does well. It’s all about the players to me. The more knowledge I have on them, the better the telecast.
What do you like most about calling college hockey play-by-play? You mean, “cawlidge hawkey?” Between the continuous action, physical play, amazing skill and sudden bursts of emotions from both the players and fans, it is the best game. There is really nothing like it.
What are your thoughts on the 2013-2014 college hockey season? As of right now, Minnesota and Boston College are the two best teams. However, the two best teams don’t always make it to the finals of the Frozen Four. Like other college sports, hockey has a lot of parity.
Final thoughts on Michigan-Penn State this weekend? Can’t wait to check out Pegula, and then in March, I get to check out Yost. The venues add to the atmosphere and the telecast. [Pegula Ice Arena is Penn State’s home arena and Yost Ice Arena is Michigan’s home arena].
Editor’s note: Minnesota at Michigan college hockey airs March 14 at 6:30 p.m. ET on ESPNEWS.