BOSTON (KEYC) — In about 24 hours, the Minnesota State Mavericks and Minnesota Gophers face off in the NCAA Frozen Four.
KEYC’s Mary Rominger takes us behind the scenes in Boston to see how radio play-by-play announcer Mike Sullivan is preparing for the moment.
Mike Sullivan, who is more commonly known as Sully, tells the story of the Minnesota State men’s hockey team unlike any other. Since the 2000-01 season, Sully’s way of becoming the eyes and ears of the listener captivates Maverick hockey fans worldwide.
“The one thing about hockey, it’s the fastest. You can have a lot of stats and things written down on a piece of paper and pages and by the time you found them the puck has progressed four players up the ice and could be in the back of the net when you look away,” Sullivan said.
It takes a special individual to master the art of radio play-by-play for any sport, but ice hockey takes the cake.
Mike Sullivan: “I had done college football and I had done baseball and covered a lot of events, but the opportunity came when I got the call from the general manager at the time in Mankato about ‘Would you be interested in hockey?’ and I jumped at the opportunity and I’m very pleased that I’ve been able to have the run that I’ve had,” Sullivan added.
Sully’s run is up to 832 Minnesota State men’s hockey broadcasts.
Until six years ago, the voice of the Mavericks hadn’t missed a game – but when a cyst formed on his vocal cords, Sully was out of the booth for over a month.
Mike Sullivan: “This will be my 409th game since the surgery and I usually will write that down on my scoresheet before the game starts because I don’t want to forget that that did get interrupted and how much it meant to me to be able to come back and pick it up again,” Sullivan said. “That’s when I, for the first time, could really empathize with players that were out of the lineup that wanted to be in there because it felt weird to be an outsider looking in at something.”
MSU’s rich history dates back to 1969 and in 1996 the Division I era began.
Mike Sullivan: “The old WCHA, which was a lot like the NCHC now, you were playing every weekend with half the league was ranked in the top 10 in the country, so you could have a pretty good hockey team and still get beat around. We certainly had some of that stuff going on in the early years,” Sullivan said. “Mike Hasting came, changed the environment. Nobody kicks Minnesota State around anymore.”
The program is only two wins away from bringing a national title back to Mankato.
If the Mavericks do take care of business in Boston, it’ll be Sully’s call fans remember.
Mike Sullivan: “You talking about a final call? Well, there’s certain ways it can go. Now, if MSU’s got it in the bag with two minutes left, you can really set up something longer and I guess, maybe, that’s what I’ve been thinking of. But, it occurred to me coming out here, it might be an overtime game and it might be something happening in the final seconds that changes a longer call, then you might have to hop it up. But I’ll do what I usually do in these situations, whatever pops into my head at the time is what’ll pop out,” Sullivan said.
The Minnesota State Mavericks men’s hockey team will take the ice against in-state rival Minnesota for a chance to play in the national championship game against the winner of the Michigan-Denver game. The puck will drop between the Mavericks and Gophers at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 7, with the game being broadcast on ESPNU and KTOE AM 1420.
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