From the anthem to the cheers and jeers, it hit me how much a crowd impacts a hockey game.
It seems like a no-brainer — of course the crowd matters — but after more than a year of simulated crowd noise, one becomes used to the new concept of what a crowd sounds like.
It was even more evident to me how important a crowd is after calling games on Sportsnet in Calgary over the weekend.
It was my first assignment without a crowd on hand.
Doing play-by-play, you feed off the energy of the crowd noise: the crackle of anticipation at the start of the game when anything is possible, the crescendo of excitement for a player on a breakaway or an odd-man rush, the “oooo” of a shot just wide or the screams of delight for a massive save.
And, of course, the eruption from a home crowd as its team scores.
It was a challenge to manufacture the same type of excitement in my call without the ability to feed off the crowd.
I can only imagine how difficult it has been for the players.
The good news: it looks like that was my first and last call without fans as we move towards a return to the rink — which we will never take for granted again!
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