A Love Affair with Little-Town Hockey
by Quinn Donovan, PA Announcer
Now, most will ask me what’s up with the title. “Isn’t it ‘Small-Town Hockey’?” They’ll say. Right now, Dear Reader, you’re probably doing the same thing.
Hey, I get it, but when you’re writing about love, about the beauty of hockey in leagues that are below the big time, you choose the words that flow, like a fine wine that just gets better with age. You know, the kind of wine that makes every drop memorable.
So, I admit it fully and proudly…I have a love affair with Little-Town Hockey. From the concession stands to the rabid fans, I love it all. This is where the love of the game flourishes, where the local home team is the team to see, and the rink is the place to be on any given weekday night. Where you know the kids on the team by their first name, and you talk to their parents post-game regardless of the outcome. In some cases, you even get to text the PA Announcer with song requests, or just to find out the title of a Korean Pop track that no one’s heard of in North America yet.
In case you’re wondering, that’s where I come in. I have had the pleasure of being the voice of a number of hockey teams for the past 6 years. I have dealt with 10:15pm start times on weekends, rosters that were either not in numerical order (meat puzzles, I call them) or names that would make the kids in the Scripps Spelling Bee angrily demand that it be used in a sentence, near-riots, penalty box talk that ranged from the expected to the downright bizarre, sound systems that didn’t work, and almost everything else that you can imagine.
And yet, it never gets old. Anything For Hockey, I always say. Just like the players on the ice, the booth has – and always will – deserve your best. So do the fans. In a bad mood? Stow it, it’s game time. Things not working out well? It happens. That’s life. The game doesn’t wait.
You get to know everyone on a Little-Town team, from the coach to the trainers to the arena workers, to the players themselves. If you’re really lucky, you’ll even get to know the volunteers.
There are a lot of them in Little-Town hockey, each with a heart bigger than the arena, and made from solid gold. They do it for the love of the game and the team, to make sure everything runs properly, from the 50-50 to the programs, and everything in-between. These are the same folks that bake Rice Krispy Treats for sale at the concession stands, barbecue hot dogs outside in the middle of December, and always make sure that you get what you need, their smiles wider than their shoulders. While I may say “Anything for Hockey”, they live it every weekday, no excuses, no exceptions.
It was Little-Town Hockey that got me my start being a PA Announcer when I started announcing for the Western Washington University Vikings Hockey Club, a job that I admit I got completely by accident, that I happily did for free, almost every weekend during the season. 10:15pm start times? You betcha. Frozen feet by the end of the 2nd period? Absolutely. Amazing players and people who are still life-long friends? Without question. I watched those boys win a National Title in my first year, and go undefeated at home for the next 2 and a half years after that. The alumni of that team still continue to help the team today, because they understand (like all hockey volunteers do) that the only way that Little-Town Hockey survives, and thrives, is if those who care about it continue to give back.
From there I moved on to Box Lacrosse for the Langley Warriors during the summer. An amazing sport, another great group of players, coaches, GM’s, and volunteers, and sure enough a Provincial Championship in my 2nd year.
But this isn’t about my PA announcing resume. You can find that online. It’s about a love affair with hockey, the way it should be.
Today I’m the PA Announcer for the Langley Trappers of the PJHL and the backup announcer for the Langley Rivermen of the BCHL. Last season, I got the call-up to cover 3 games for the big club. Game 1 almost ended on a near-riot due to a last-second goal, me calling Powell River by the name of Prince George, and an all-out line brawl. Game 2 was much much better.
At the beginning of Game 3, I was told that a house that contained the billet family for 3 players on the other side had burned down. No one was hurt, but the player’s clothes and possessions were lost in the fire, and the team was going to run a fundraiser to collect money to get the players new gear.
I donated, as did a number of others. Anything for hockey. It’s what we do for the game. It’s what we do for each other.
It’s what we do because it’s who we are.
That’s why I fell in love with Little-Town Hockey, and why I continue to do so every single time I’m at the rink.
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About the Author:
Quinn Donovan is the current Public Address Announcer for the Langley Trappers of the Pacific Junior Hockey League and occasionally announces games for the Langley Rivermen of the British Columbia Hockey League as well.