Having never attempted it, I would expect being a sports commentator to be very difficult. There’s often a lot going on and the expectation is that you explain it all, live and accurately. As excellent as many of the broadcasters and commentators are across the EIHL, it’s tough to fully go into detail of what happened on a particular play. Perhaps even a scoring play.
Thankfully most EIHL teams post highlights of their games on YouTube which gives fans the opportunity to relive these plays and curse your team’s 3rd line winger for not digging in on a backcheck or failing to chip a puck out of their zone.
For anyone familiar with the terrific work of Justin Bourne of The Athletic, previously Backhand Shelf of The Score, this concept already exists and is executed very well. Not unlike what a video coach would do in a film session with a team, I will attempt to break down the goals of the game and any other play that are interesting enough to merit a further look.
Let’s dig in (video to follow).
Dundee goal @4:30. Matt Marquardt (37) from Brian Hart (88) and Lukas Lundvald Neilsen (10)
The play begins when Pontus Sjögren (87) steers a shot to the his right hand corner because he’s a good goalie and that’s what good goalies do. Mike Sullivan (4) beats Hunter Bishop (61) to the boards and chips a backhand up the strong side to Lundvald who is waiting there to continue a classic quick-up breakout which looks almost perfectly like this.
However this is where it gets fun. Lundvald as F3, recognises pressure will be coming from (39) Patrick Dwyer and he needs to get the puck inside to Brian Hart who is supporting as F1 while Marquardt acts as F2 skating through the middle of the ice. Patrick Dwyer has 400+ games in the NHL in his back pocket and Lundvald pops it through his tripod as if he were one of these.
Jim Vandemeer (9) decides to go fishing and leaves his assignment which is Marquardt and we have a 2 on 1 with Paul Swindlehurst (23) defending. He half commits to Hart which provides the big centre with enough room to dish it through the defenceman for Marquardt to collect and deposit it top bag.
Stars coach Omar Pacha would have been very pleased. The opposing bench boss Adam Keefe possibly wondering why two players on his roster with 800 NHL games combined just got made to look like jokers. It’s also worth a second watch to hear Simon Kitchen the Giants announcer pronounce Matt Marquardt’s surname as if he’s a Shrek character.
Belfast goal @38:55. Mark Garside (7) from Guillaume Gelinas (5) and Kyle Baun (12)
This play begins with a brain fart from Petr Chaloupka (24). While he has room to skate up the right side if he were to continue as Belfast are making a change, he attempts to play it through the middle to Lundvald.
It’s intercepted but likely feeling a bit guilty, he follows his broken up pass and actually pokes it away. However only as far as Garside who sends it straight back up ice where it came from. Chaloupka also falls and leaves the Stars scrambling for coverage and under attack, not his finest hour.
Sullivan as the only defenceman back now, literally points to the middle of the ice for it to be covered as he takes Baun to the boards with some good positioning. Baun gets it back to Gelinas at the point who then switches it inside to Garside who has approximately 3 acres of space to work with.
Fabrizio Ricci (43) should be much closer to Garside but was caught deep trying to cover for Chaloupka possibly. Ricci blocks the first attempt but the second one Sullivan paws into his own net in a bit of a freak play and unfortunate for Sjögren who was playing very well.
Belfast goal @56:19 Kyle Baun (12) from Guillaume Gelinas (5) and Mark Garside (7) a reverse order of the previous goal, interestingly.
We begin the play with Chaloupka lacking a stick which is unfortunate. Some may say in this situation, a winger should give him one as he is almost useless and wingers don’t do a whole lot defensively anyway, but they’ve opted to not go with that. The aforementioned Dwyer plays a bit of a neat trick here.
With the Stars clambering to protect the front of the net they seem to genuinely to forget about him. Hiding behind the Stars net he gets a pass from Baun and sends it back to the point for a shot from Garside. Chaloupka, still sans stick, blocks this but the bounce sends it straight to Garside’s partner Gelinas. Who sends a near perfect drive, low for Baun to tip in from the top of the crease.
Stars M.O.M was deservedly Sjögren who saved 34 of 36 on the road and battled through many goal mouth scrambles and lots of traffic out front. The Stars so far are competing well enough to stay in games against any team in the league. Another woeful night on the powerplay however of 0/6 was matched by a continuation of the excellent PK keeping Belfast 0/5. The Stars were 0/7 against Manchester and 1/7 in Sheffield this week with the man advantage. Depth scoring and a more clinical PP will be key to turn these close games into points and wins.