Editor’s Note: Running a hockey team takes plenty of work from a lot of different groups and with the players and coaches getting most of the accolades, or criticism in some instances, it is only fitting to acknowledge the efforts put forward by other groups in the organization. While most teams in every sport require this assistance, the following is the first in a five-part series acknowledging the work done by specific groups for the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders. Remaining stories in this series will run every Saturday for the next month.
They sit high above the ice, but even with their birds-eye view of the game, Jack Sander and Dennis Ogrodnick have little time to be a fan.
That is because when the Prince Albert Raiders are playing, or in this case the Mintos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League or A&W Bears of the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League, the pair are busy entertaining and informing everyone in the rink.
Sander does the announcing and Ogrodnick handles the music and together they add to the ambiance of a game, whether it is at the junior or midget levels.
“I became a fan of announcers when I travelled to a lot of baseball games,” notes Sander, who is in his 14th season with the Raiders, 12th with the Mintos and seventh with the Bears. “My biggest inspiration is the guy that does the Rockies and Avalanche games (in Denver). I liked the way he announced games – it was with a lot of enthusiasm.”
While Sander saw the announcing position posted in the Daily Herald in 1998, Ogrodnick got involved in 2006 after playing some music at a ball tournament. Together they feed off each other and try and bring a form of entertainment to the game other than what is occurring on the ice.
“If he plays a song that is appropriate or I can suggest one that is appropriate we can have a lot of fun with them,” says Sander.
An example of that is the sound of a baby crying when an opposing team is talking to the official or a toilet flushing when they don’t agree with the call made by a referee.
While it sounds like an enjoyable gig, there is a lot of work as both have to follow a script that is laid out for them. There are sponsors to acknowledge and notices to read, particularly those pertaining to fundraising events being held by the team and upcoming games, plus there is the all important announcing of goals and penalties.
Sander and Ogrodnick work closely with many other people including the game-day announcer, officials in the time-keepers box and the crew that provides updates from games around the league.
Neither of them look at their role as a job, but as a way to enjoy a game they both love. For Ogrodnick it has even more meaning.
“Beating Saskatoon,” says the St. Mary High School teacher simply. “I don’t care if it’s the Contacts, Blazers or the Blades. I love it when we beat them.”
It is a lot of time to be spending in a rink and to put that in perspective, Sander is approaching his 1,000th game between the three major clubs that he announces for. If all goes according to plan, he will be working the milestone game on Mar. 2 when the Raiders host the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Art Hauser Centre.
Ogrodnick has a long way to go to reach that plateau, but he plans on being around for a while.
The fans, Raiders, Mintos and Bears certainly hope they both do.