Behind The Scenes

Eleven years after attending Frozen Four as a fan, ESPN producer leads coverage

BOSTON – April 10, 2004. A recently hired ESPN production assistant, Anthony DeVita, remembers the feeling of tension throughout the FleetCenter here. It was DeVita’s first in-person, fan experience of college hockey’s Holy Grail: The Frozen Four.

Frozen Four Coverage

This year will be ESPN’s 21st year televising the Frozen Four and 36th year televising the Championship game. For the third year, John Buccigross and Barry Melrose will be on the call with Quint Kessenich reporting. The action begins tonight when Providence takes on Omaha (5 p.m.) followed by No. 3 Boston University vs. No. 2 North Dakota (8:30 p.m.). Both games will be televised on ESPN2. The two winners will face off Saturday in the Championship game (7:30 p.m. on ESPN).

Ninety seconds separated Denver University from the NCAA Division I National Championship. With a 1-0 lead, they found themselves on a five-on-three penalty kill against the University of Maine. The Black Bears would pull their goalie, setting up a six-on-three advantage which resulted in an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat experience. Denver would win — or more appropriately — survive. That game, those memories, are ice skate-sharp for DeVita.

“Man, I hope we get an atmosphere like that this weekend,” proclaimed an excited DeVita from the bowels of TD Garden – formerly known as FleetCenter — yesterday.

Tonight the Frozen Four returns to Boston for the first time since 2004 and DeVita will once again be there. But when the puck drops, he won’t be in the building; rather, the now 11-year ESPN veteran will be just outside of the Garden, in the ESPN compound, at the controls of the telecasts as he produces his first Frozen Four.

With a new role and a new experience, returning to the site where he first experienced the Frozen Four – admittedly, one his favorite events of the year – would be enough to provide extra juice to an already big telecast. But then, the Boston University Terriers had to get involved.

“It was the year 2000. Boston College versus Boston University. My first college hockey game,” says DeVita, who at the time was a BU freshman. “The Terriers came from behind to win 2-1 and just like that, a light switch went off in my head: ‘This is unbelievable.’ Since then, I have been a Boston University season ticket holder and an overall big college hockey fan.”

Once they drop the puck, my ties to Boston University become irrelevant. It could be any team. I have to tell the story of all four teams, that is my job.
– Anthony DeVita, producer of ESPN’s Frozen Four coverage and BU alum

DeVita, who graduated from Boston University in 2003, also works on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, college basketball and tennis coverage. However, college hockey is in his blood.

“Just wanting to be a part of the college hockey coverage at ESPN, I volunteered to work the Selection Show my first year back in 2004,” he said.

Fast forward to the winter of 2014 and DeVita decided to pursue the vacated Frozen Four producer position. “I knew it might be my one shot to get it. I was thrilled they gave me the job.”

With his new responsibilities in place, he kept a close eye on his Terriers, while also following the entire college hockey landscape throughout the season.

Two weeks ago, he realized his worlds were about to collide. Boston University was in Manchester, N.H. and became the first team to earn a berth to the Frozen Four. One hundred and eight miles south, DeVita was in the production truck, producing the East Regional which Providence would go on to win.

But DeVita knows – for the next three days – his BU fandom will be set aside.

“Once they drop the puck, my ties to Boston University become irrelevant. It could be any team. I have to tell the story of all four teams, that is my job,” says DeVita.

But, on Wednesday, as DeVita, play-by-play commentator John Buccigross, analyst Barry Melrose and the entire ESPN crew met with coaches, players and the throng of NCAA officials for final preparation of the sport’s biggest three days, DeVita allowed himself to be a fan just for one last moment.

“I am happy they are here.”

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