ALLEN, Texas – It’s game night in Allen, Texas and while the Allen Americans are going through their pre-game rituals, preparing to do battle on the ice, Lee Hastings is working through his own set of warm-ups and rituals to do his job off the ice.
“I have a pre-game routine that I do every game, I walk AEC in a certain way, do some vocal warm ups and a few other things,” Hastings said. “I spend time working with the (players) names to find different ways to announce them. The players with the hard names to announce are not that bad, I get with the broadcasters and get them to send me the phonetic spellings that way I have it a few days before the game to get ready.”
Anyone who has ever looked at a hockey team’s roster can attest to how difficult some of the names can be to pronounce. Hockey rosters are usually comprised of an eclectic group of names to say the least.
“Here’s a little secret for you,” Hastings confides with a chuckle. “I will take one players name from the visiting team and say it wrong, not too badly but just enough. For me it’s like my hockey mojo to help the team win.”
“I try to get the crowd geared up during the starting lineup, my goal is to make the hair on the backs of everyone’s neck too stand up with excitement and anticipation for the first puck drop of the game,” Hastings said.
A difficult task and one that shows the true measure of a professional PA announcer, is the ability to not let that level of excitement of the crowd drop throughout the game.
Good announcers are not cheerleaders for the home team, but when they do their job right, they definitely influence the reaction of the crowd immeasurably. Lee’s favorite part of the game is announcing the starting lineup and the goals, as they cause the energy of the crowd to infuse the arena with a powerful force.
“My jobs is to help keep the energy going in the barn, the players can hear it , feel it and they do feed off of it,” Hastings said.
Aside from announcing the events that transpire on the ice over the sixty minutes of play, Lee plays a pivotal part of the between period’s entertainment of the crowd as well as post-game interviews of players and coaches on the ice.
Some games can get extremely hectic to keep up with as goals and penalties can come flowing in faster than door buster shoppers at Walmart on Black Friday. Lee has a love-hate feeling towards the games where there is a lot of scoring and penalties because it can wear you out, but it keeps you pumped up at the same time with all the activity.
There have been times where a goal is scored and as he’s ready to make the announcement, a penalty is called. Then another quick goal is scored, followed by a pair of penalties as tensions rise on the ice. Penalties must be announced before goals, so in some instances, fans may wait as long as five minutes to hear the announcement of the original goal that kicked off the melee. Lee has seen his share of rambunctious games like that.
“I remember the games between Oklahoma City Blazers and the Wichita Thunder back in the day. I’ve called games with penalty minutes that go well over 150 for the game,” Hastings remembers.
While the announcing work and the preparation for it takes up a great deal of his time, Lee enjoys staying active with a variety of activities outside the arena. In his spare time, he’s an avid golfer and scuba diver but enjoys most the time spent with his girlfriend and her kids. “They really crack me up,” Hastings says with a smile.
Lee’s seen a lot of growth in the Central Hockey League over the years and the changes have been very positive.
“When I look back on the CHL from then until now, this league has changed so much. It once was a league that did not have a lot of skilled players in it, but now the talent in this league is pretty fun to watch,” Hastings said.
When asked about this year’s Americans squad, Lee spoke enthusiastically.
“With this year’s team, a few words come to mind; big, fast, strong, talented, gritty and skilled. They play hard. I think Marty and Matty have done a great job building a team to go the distance this year and feel that this is the most well rounded team we have had so far.” As of press time, the Americans are currently in second place with 29 points behind the Wichita Thunder with one point separating the two teams, but Allen has three games in hand.
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