When the puck drops at the boys’ hockey state tournament on Wednesday, history will be made on several fronts, including the television broadcasts.
Sloane Martin, a WCCO Radio news reporter and a veteran sports broadcaster, will become the first woman to work as a play-by-play announcer for the boys’ state tournament. Martin will call the first session of Wednesday’s Class 1A quarterfinals for KSTC-TV Ch. 45. She’ll work the 11 a.m. game between North Branch and St. Cloud Cathedral and the 1 p.m. contest between Minnesota River and East Grand Forks.
“These are such important moments, special moments for these kids and these communities,’’ Martin said of her assignment. “That in itself is exciting.’’
Martin is just one of several broadcasters slated to work state tournament games as the Minnesota State High School League brought back tournament veterans to help celebrate the 75th edition of the event.
In Wednesday’s second session of Class 1A quarterfinals, Wally Shaver, the radio voice of Gophers hockey, will work Mahtomedi vs. New Ulm and Delano vs. Greenway.
The Class 2A quarterfinals on Thursday will feature Doug McLeod, voice of Gophers hockey on Fox Sports North, working the first session with White Bear Lake vs. Blaine and Lakeville South vs. Eden Prairie. ESPN’s Clay Matvick will call the night session, Moorhead vs. Edina and Duluth East vs. St. Thomas Academy.
Friday’s semifinals will feature former Wild and Gophers play-by-play voice Dan Terhaar handling the Class 1A action. Jim Erickson, play-by-play announcer for St. Cloud State, takes over the Class 2A semifinals and will call both championship games on Saturday.
Analysts for the tournament will include former Bloomington Jefferson and Wild player Mark Parrish for the Class 1A games and Minnesota hockey legend Lou Nanne on the Class 2A games, working his 55th state tournament.
Along with airing on Ch. 45, the state tournament will be webcast on prep45.com.
Martin will lead it all off on Wednesday, and she said she was a combination of excited and nervous.
“Executive producer Dennis Silva was wanting to do things a little bit differently this year for the Year 75 [of the tournament] and he just came to me and asked, ‘Hey, are you interested in doing this,’ ’’ Martin said. “ ‘Of course,’ That was my really quick response.’’
A Los Angeles native who played basketball at Division III St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., Martin moved to the Twin Cities in 2016 with her husband, Matthew Coller, a radio analyst for SKOR North. She has worked girls’ hockey state tournaments and three Prep Bowls for Ch. 45. Previously, she worked at radio stations in Western New York, including Buffalo.
Martin said calling the girls’ hockey tournament gave her an appreciation of the talent level of in the state.
“It was fantastic introduction into what Minnesota hockey is all about,’’ she said. “There’s just nowhere else like it, for girls and boys.’’
And when she arrived in Minnesota, she quickly learned the importance of the boys’ hockey state tournament.
“We kept hearing from people, ‘You have to see the boys’ hockey tournament.’ Over and over,’’ she said. “ ‘You have to see it and take it in.’ ’’
Martin’s versatility is her calling card – she worked the Purdue-Indiana women’s basketball game for Big Ten Network over the weekend – and she has committed to doing her homework on the boys’ hockey tournament.
“You’ve got to do the hard work,’’ she said. “I study for these games like every single one is not just a test, but the bar exam.’’
What can we expect from a Sloane Martin play-by-play call?
“When I take on a game, I believe in two things: That a game should be informative and that it also should be entertaining,’’ she said. “From me, I think you’re going to get enthusiasm. This is such a big moment for these kids, and I want them and their family and people back home to watch this and feel it’s really special.’’