TUESDAY, APRIL 2: TESTING, 1, 2, 3 … WE’RE READY … ARE YOU!?
by Tracy Gagnon
Before any major tournament like the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship, there are exhibition games. Even a hockey rookie like me knows that!
What I didn’t know, and you may not know either, is that there are also test games to ensure everything runs smoothly during the event.
On Monday, April 1, the host committee held “test day.” From the video boards that buzz around the perimeter of the rink, to time-outs during play, that was the day to get it right.
It’s an amazing experience to wander around behind the scenes to understand the mystery that is the women’s worlds.
I watched the play for a while. Shots were taken and refs blew whistles, the same as every other game. The clock stopped. Teams faced off. Players jumped over the boards when their turn came. A time-out was called. Even the Zambonis came out to practice.
It all looked real enough. It sounded real enough, too. I overheard three ultra-serious men analyzing the play. I’m guessing those were coaches.
I moved from behind the goalie and sat behind the benches. I must admit, it’s a pretty cool feeling to sit anywhere I want! I’ve never seen SBP Arena virtually empty, save for those volunteers and employed workers of the event.
I wanted to see what’s going on in the media box, so I climbed the stairs to the first level to see if I could find a service elevator to the fourth floor. We had a tour a few days before, but SBP is a big arena and it took a bit to find my bearings.
As I wandered around the first floor looking for an elevator, I heard the shrill sound of a whistle and stuck my head through an opening to see what was happening on the ice. There was a group hovering around a sprawled figure. Was this a real injury or was it pretend like everything else? Turns out, fake to give the medical team some practice, too!
I kept moving. The halls were dark. Bert’s was dark. Barstools perched atop tables awaited fans. The concessions were closed, locked behind barricades. There were no line ups for beer—or the ladies washroom.
Music bellowed from the bowels of the arena. A little loud. I’m sure someone was adjusting that. Then I saw a man, hunched over a yellow jersey with what looks like a huge iron. It was a bit surreal. It was like going to a major shopping mall after hours and coming upon a cobbler from an old fairy tale.
I asked him what he was doing. Like everyone working for the women’s worlds, Chris, I found out, was busily working to make sure sponsor logos got applied to the Swedish team’s jerseys in time. Curiosity satiated, I moved on.
I found my elevator and rode up in it with a mini Zamboni and its driver. Even the cleaning lady was getting SBP Arena ready to host teams from around the world.
The elevator, which smelled like hotdogs, opened up and I followed the buzz of human voices and machines, together in a beautiful media cacophony.
I love the media box. It’s full of gadgets and people making them go. And, it’s the highest point you can get – except for the rafters. I always wondered why the media people are put at the top of arenas. I’m told it is the best spot to watch the game. I don’t think so. Although I suppose that depends on what you’re watching when you watch a game! Hmm ... I take a note, “Write a blog about the best place to watch a game.”
I looked over the railing to the teeny people on the ice below. I couldn’t see much of anything. I moved to a room with people busy with binoculars and computers and writing. This is where the statistics for the game are collected.
I walked down a set of stairs to a row of seats hugging a rail. I found Chris from ANC Sports in New York City and Sens marketing intern, Richard, fiddling with more equipment. Then I realized: these are the guys making the video board buzz around the perimeter of the ice!
I had been there for a couple of hours watching and walking and talking and listening and understanding. I think I’m beginning to see how this huge event comes together. Everyone has their own task, from sweeping the floor to ironing on logos, to analyzing the play.
My tiny part is to blog about all the new experiences I have throughout my time at the women’s worlds, hoping that maybe you, through me, might understand a little more about what it takes behind the scenes to make a spectacular tournament. Go Team Canada!
Your Hockey Rookie,
About Rookie Reflections: Tracy Gagnon is an Ottawa, Ont., resident and a media volunteer for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship. A self-admitted hockey newbie, Tracy and her fellow volunteers, who are generously giving their energy and time to make this event a success, will take us behind the scenes at SBP Arena in Ottawa, Ont., the Nepean Sportsplex and everywhere in between for the inside scoop on what goes into hosting a major world championship in the nation’s capital – all from the eyes of a total rookie.