A few weeks ago I wrote about the good and bad of ESPN's first regular season college hockey game in a few years. Although the biggest complaint was towards what felt like a lack of preparation and respect to the first-ever Big Ten hockey conference game, the main point of the article was that there is room to grow and showcase the game to both casual and serious fans.
The first move to that effort is Sportscenter anchor and Frozen Four play-by-play voice John Buccigross will be calling the next 3 Big Ten games broadcast on ESPN networks. Buccigross announced the news Monday on Twitter.
Doing regular season #cawlidgehawkey play by play next month for ESPN. Feb 1- PSU at OSU. Feb 8-@umichhockey at PSU. Feb 15- Mich St at PSU— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) December 31, 2013
Besides the three games listed above, ESPN also is broadcasting a February 22 game between
Michigan Michigan State and Wisconsin in Madison (ESPNU), Minnesota at Ohio State on March 8 (ESPNEWS) and another ESPNEWS game March 14 between Minnesota and Michigan at Yost Ice Arena. (UPDATE: Buccigross is also calling the latter two games, bringing the total to 5 in addition to NCAA Tournament contests.)
This is on top of 34 games on BTN this season.
On ESPNU, College Hockey & Respect
Some thoughts on the good and bad of ESPNU broadcasting the inaugural Big Ten hockey game in late November. Spoiler: It's mostly bad.
Additionally, Big Ten games have been also broadcast on both CBS Sports Net and NBC Sports Network in addition to regional sports networks such as Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Detroit, STO and Fox Sports Wisconsin.
Buccigross replaces Sam Gore, who called the November 29 Minnesota-Wisconsin game. There is no news if Sean Ritchlin is also returning.
(UPDATE #2: According to Buccigross himself, Ritchlin will be his "wingman.")
There are many things to like with the change. It doesn't solve everything, however, as the challenge to cater to both hardcore fans while exposing college hockey to a bigger audience remains. At the very least, having the championship announcer and one of college hockey's biggest champions call the next three games is a nice mea culpa.
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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate