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Diary of a Mad Sportswriter: Shen's pay-per-view hockey game historic for local hs hockey

Diary of a Mad Sportswriter

Stan Hudy is a sportswriter for The Saratogian and Community News. He covers high school and youth sports in the Saratoga County area as well as writing a weekly book review on sports books. He's not just a "stick and ball" sportswriter, he's willing to take on any sport as well as any subject.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Shen's pay-per-view hockey game historic for local hs hockey

The Shenendehowa varsity ice hockey team will make history tonight when the puck drops at the Houston Field House on the RPI campus against rival CBA.

Not only will the Capital District High School Hockey League contest follow the afternoon collegiate battle between host RPI and Harvard, it will be the first televised high school ice hockey game by Time Warner on its TW3 sports channel.

Game time is 7 p.m. following the RPI game with Jayson Moy and Jeff Fraser in the booth with Ken Jubie on the floor.

“We’ve wanted to get a game on TV for a long time,” Shenendehowa ice hockey coach Juan de la Rocha said. “Ron (Kuhl, former CBA coach) and I talked about it when Time Warner was doing football.

“In May I got a random phone call from (RPI head coach) Seth Appert, and asked if we would be interested in doing a double header with him,” de la Rocha said. “He gave me a bunch of dates, this just happened to work out.”

What began as a collegiate/scholastic double header soon turned into history.

After that happened, we thought what a great opportunity to get Time Warner in,” de la Rocha said. “The biggest challenge before that was most rinks are not very camera friendly for video and games and I asked Seth if that game was going to be televised?”

It set the stage for tonight’s first televised event.

“We’ve done a lot of high school football games in the area and it has been our sweet spot,” John Quigley, Time Warner Regional Vice-President for Operations, Albany Division said. “We’ve been looking for some time to do a high school hockey broadcast.”

This is a first for TW3 and could be historic throughout the state.

“I’m not aware of any other market doing high school hockey,” Quigley said. “If you compare us to our peers we do a lot of high school sports. This is what makes this unique.”

According to de la Rocha the contest was a given months ago at RPI, but the televised agreement was contingent on TW3 securing enough sponsors (advertising) for the event and required the support of Shenendehowa’s hockey team boosters and its contacts.

“I called Greg Bobbitt and he said ‘We just can’t just say yes and do it, we have these advertising spots to try to get some business to take on and raise $2,500 in ads,’” de la Rocha said. “He made it clear, they are not doing any of the fundraising for it.

“We went to our boosters and said if you donate $500, this is what you get out of it,” de la Rocha said. “That started to happen three to four weeks ago. We were going to play at RPI with or without television, but it is really want something we wanted to see happen. It’s great for Section II hockey.”

Once viable from a business standpoint, Quigley expects it to be well received.

“Typically you see us doing a lot of college games,” Quigley said. “The community likes to see high school games and this is a new opportunity for Time Warner and the schools.”

Shenendehowa beat CBA on its home ice at the Clifton Park Arena, 3-2, on Jan. 10 and it was CBA that agreed to give up a home game and the gate receipts to make tonight’s contest happen. Shenendehowa in turn will give up a home game to CBA again next year at RPI to return the favor, but nothing is confirmed next year for a televised contest.

The Plainsmen hold a 27-1-1 advantage over the Brothers since 1994 with CBA earning it’s first-ever victory last year. Shenendehowa may hold a historic advantage but are 0-2-1 in its past three games with losses to Division II squads Queensbury and Glens Falls along with a tie to Bethlehem, nothing is guaranteed under the lights and cameras tonight.

“The kids are excited and it will be a good experience for them, it’s never happened before,” de la Rocha said. “They are all over it.”

As for the three-game skid, de la Rocha expects his new and improved squad to take to the ice against its rival, CBA.

“As far as I’m concerned, the pressure is off losing those two games the top seed is gone,” de la Rocha said. “I’m just worried about getting things on track, there isn’t any pressure anymore.”

Admission to the hockey double-header is $10 for adults and $5 for students at the Houston Field House press box for both the 4 p.m. RPI vs. Harvard game and the Shen vs. CBA game at 7 p.m. The contest will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable channel 3.

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