Broadcasting his future

Calling game with ‘Doc’ Emrick caps Evan Pivnick’s BGSU experience

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By Bob Cunningham

Growing up on Long Island, Evan Pivnick didn’t know much about Bowling Green State University, except that Mike “Doc” Emrick ’76 had attended the University.

That’s all Pivnick needed to hear in order to visit the northwest Ohio campus. 

Now a senior, Pivnick, a media production and studies major, realized his hockey broadcasting dream on Feb. 11 when he called the Falcons’ 3-0 victory over Mercyhurst University with Emrick during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Ice Arena.

“He was one of the big attractions, if you will,” said the Oceanside, N.Y. native, a lifelong hockey fan who is in his third season as play-by-announcer for the Falcons. “Being from New York, I had heard of the school, but didn’t know much about it. I was able to look it up and his name definitely stood out. You see ‘Doc’ Emrick on that list and you’re like, wow, that’s one of the biggest names there basically is in broadcasting“He was one of the big attractions, if you will,” said the Oceanside, N.Y. native, a lifelong hockey fan who is in his third season as play-by-announcer for the Falcons. “Being from New York, I had heard of the school, but didn’t know much about it. I was able to look it up and his name definitely stood out. You see ‘Doc’ Emrick on that list and you’re like, wow, that’s one of the biggest names there basically is in broadcasting. 

“I knew when I came to BGSU I wanted to do play-by-play for the hockey team. I achieved that my sophomore year, which is something I am very proud of, and to do it for three years is special to me.”

Emrick, who earned his doctoral degree from BGSU in Radio-TV Film, is the lead play-by-play hockey announcer for NBC. He also was the lead broadcaster for the United States men's and women's hockey teams in the 2010 Winter Olympics. The winner of four national Emmy Awards, Emrick was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Dec. 12, 2011, becoming the first media member to be so honored.

Emrick was thrilled to return to BGSU to assist with the weekend of festivities.

“The first experience you ever get is very important and that’s one thing Bowling Green radio and television have done for students here, and I was one of them,” he said. “I never got that chance until the fall of 1971, and the fact that I get to come back and do another game means a lot because without the experience here, I probably would not have the career that I did.”

Emrick took a break from calling the Game of the Week for NBC that weekend to return to campus, Pivnick said.  

“He asked his boss if he could have the weekend off so he could do this,” Pivnick said. “He didn’t have to do that; he’s just an unbelievable guy.”

“The first experience you ever get is very important and that’s one thing Bowling Green radio and television have done for students here, and I was one of them,” he said. “I never got that chance until the fall of 1971, and the fact that I get to come back and do another game means a lot because without the experience here, I probably would not have the career that I did.”

Emrick prepared for the BGSU-Mercyhurst game just like he would for an NHL game. Pivnick said Emrick texted him in early January and asked about pronunciations for the players on the team. 

“I thought someone was pranking me,” Pivnick said. “He ended up calling me and we talked for like 40 minutes — he wanted to know everything about everyone.”

The two broadcasters went to practice together the day before the game and Pivnick saw Emrick in the locker room after practice, visiting with each individual player, going from stall to stall already knowing things about the players such as where they’re from, what high school they went to and where they played juniors. 

“It was just remarkable to see the preparation he put into for just one game that he didn’t have to do,” said Pivnick, who noted it was a “wake-up call” for how he needs to prepare for games. “OK, I can prepare a lot harder than I do right now — it’s inspiring because I want to be like that. There’s a reason he’s in the hall of fame for broadcasting.”

Emrick was equally impressed with Pivnick’s recipe for broadcasting success.

“Evan’s credentials are very solid, and I am looking forward to just being there and having him carry me through the broadcast. It will be fun,” Emrick said before the game. 

Pivnick grew up watching games on TV with his father, who called minor league baseball games in the 1980s.  

“When I’d watch games with my dad, instead of pointing out players he’d point out announcers to watch, and listen to how they called the game,” he said. “So, that’s always been on my mind. When I told my dad the news, he was ecstatic. That’s really when it sunk in that I was going to call a game with ‘Doc.’”

News of Pivnick’s fortuitous assignment made its way around the internet. Soon, friends, family and complete strangers reached out to him on Facebook and other social media platforms to offer congratulations, including ESPN broadcaster John Buccigross and New York Islanders play-by-play announcer Brendan Burke.

Because Pivnick wants to be a professional hockey broadcaster, he is grateful for the experiential learning opportunities he’s had at BGSU, including internships at SiriusXM, NFL Radio and OpieRadio. Now, being able to add calling a game with Emrick to his resume is the icing on the cake.

“It was always in the back of my mind that I’d be in the same alumni network when I do graduate as ‘Doc’ Emrick,” he said. “But not only to be able to meet him, but to call a game with him is nothing I even dreamed of. It was just an outstanding experience. Where I’m at now as a broadcaster is a lot better than where I was the first game I called. I’ve seen so much growth in what I do, and in myself.”

Hockey was Pavlik’s first love for broadcasting, and he hopes to follow in Emrick’s skates into the NHL.

“I just love the pace of hockey, everything from the sound of pucks going tape to tape to the sound of people stopping on ice skates,” Pivnick said. “Calling hockey games is just so much fun. It’s definitely something I’d like to pursue. To have a career in professional broadcasting for hockey, whether it be in the minor leagues or working my way up, I’ll do whatever I have to do. I’d love to be a part of the hockey community.”