ESPN Descends on Beantown for NCAA Frozen Four
For the time in more than a decade, the NCAA Frozen Four returns to the epicenter of college hockey, Boston, this week, and ESPN is on hand to cover action from every angle. With hometown favorite Boston University in the mix, ESPN’s trio of telecasts from TD Garden will have no shortage of Beantown flair.
“We do everything we can to refine this into a true showcase of college hockey,” says Senior Operations Manager Larry Wilson. “Working at the Garden is always a pleasure, and working at a location that’s great for doing television like the Garden is always a plus.”
NEP SS23 (A and B units) will serve as home to ESPN’s largest college-hockey production of the season, providing not only the linear telecasts on ESPN and ESPN2 but also five sub-cut camera feeds to the ESPN3 Surround streaming experience.
Plenty of Camera Firepower
ESPN will deploy more than a dozen cameras for Thursday’s Semifinals and Saturday’s Championship Game, headlined by the first appearance, at center ice, of an NAC/Ikegami Hi-Motion II ultra-slo-mo camera system for the Frozen Four. Other cameras include three robos from Fletcher Chicago (above both goals and near the center line), five hard cameras (a game camera, mid position for tight isos, an overhead, and slash positions on both sides), and three handhelds (one wired in each corner and a roving RF unit with a rink-side reporter).
“Those handhelds can capture reverse angles and get great shots of fans, the student section, concourse, and add more flavor of the event in addition to the hockey coverage,” says ESPN Senior Remote Ops Specialist Jack Coffey, who is back for his second year overseeing the Frozen Four production.
In addition, the NCAA has arranged for the NHL to supply ESPN with fixed in-net cameras to provide a goal-line perspective on close goals/saves.
The Sounds of the Garden
In terms of audio, ESPN will deploy RF mics on refs and coaches where possible, crowd mics throughout the student sections, and additional Crown PCC-160 surface mics inside the glass.
“In person, hockey is the best sport to watch, and all our additional audio [for Frozen Four] gives you that in-arena feeling or at least as close as you’re going to get,” says Coffey. “The PCC mics really add the inside-the-glass sound, which you can’t always get on TV. We want to make sure we get the sound and feel of the game.”
Ramping Up to the Frozen Four
This series of telecasts marks the culmination of ESPN’s 11th consecutive year covering every game of the NCAA Men’s Division I Ice Hockey Championships, and the network has once again leveraged the early-round games to create chemistry and continuity in its operations and production teams.
“Operationally, we have a very quick ramp-up,” says Wilson. “We do package a great deal of our regular-season collegiate hockey but utilize the regionals as an opportunity to make sure our production teams have time together with their crew. So a great number of the crew from the regionals will move on to Boston. We try to use that as a dress rehearsal as much as possible.”
ESPN’s 21st year of Frozen Four coverage begins tonight at 5 p.m. ET live from Boston’s TD Garden on ESPN2 and ESPN3.