So I have to admit I was not in the best of moods heading to my first Colorado Eagles game. I had shot the Black and Gold Summit earlier in the day and was dragging a little. Not to mention the traffic on I-25 was working my nerves. However, when I arrived at the Budweiser Events Center and started to see the familiar faces of the broadcast crew I perked up immediately.
So the whole week heading into the game I had several folks tell me how much fun I was going to have at the Eagles so let’s just say my bar was set pretty high. Now although I have covered hockey extensively in my career it has been some time and I was definitely not too familiar with the rosters and staff which made me a little nervous. Turns out there was no need to be nervous as the Eagles staff was extremely helpful in familiarizing me with the facility and the personnel.
So I spent the first hour or so figuring out where to conduct interviews and where my stand up positions were located. Once I had that down I settled down to study game notes and check over the producers run down. Coming into the night I knew that it was military appreciation night and that several of our men and women in uniform would be attending the contest. I was also aware that I would be interviewing Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Sergeant Sal Giunta. Ok my nerves are kicking in again at this point because although I have interviewed hundreds of coaches and athletes this would be my first time interviewing a hero.
So the longest part of working in TV is the preparation once you start closing in on the actual game time starts to fly. The opening festivities included an enormous flag, a trumpet solo (Taps), and the National Anthem all performed by military personnel past and present. It was an extremely moving open to the game and you could feel the energy in the building. So at this point the crowd is rocking the Eagle Chicks are dancing and the puck is dropped. The Eagles were facing the Utah Grizzlies for the first of 13 contests to come in the season.
First up my interview with Sal Giunta… no need to be nervous here either. Turns out Sal is just an average guy who when called upon did something extraordinary that resulted in the saving of several lives. Pretty cool. Throughout the night the crew and fans had the pleasure of being introduced to several such heroes. It was nice for all of our military to hear the thunderous applause coming from the fans. Everyone seemed to be having such a good time except the Eagles who were struggling finding the back of the net.
Over the course of the evening I spoke with players Riley Nelson, Steve Hadden and Head Coach Chris Stewart. We also witnessed over 100 young people enlist to the military during an on ice ceremony. It appears the country will be in good hands as this was truly an impressive looking group. So in the end the game itself seemed to take a backseat to the military festivities, but that was OK because the good feelings generated from the evening’s events took a little sting off the loss. All in all it was a fantastic and new experience for me and I hope to cover a win on my next trip north. Go Eagles!