By Doug Barber
The Sun Herald
GULFPORT, Miss. — Leif Skodnick, who will be doing radio play-by-play for the Mississippi Sea Wolves, isn’t giving anything away as to what he will say when the puck drops on the ice for the Sea Wolves for their home opener.
“It will be a special moment,” Skodnick said.
In other words, stay tuned during the home opener with Reading on Saturday, Oct. 27.
The opener is just over three months away with the Sea Wolves beginning their 10th season on Oct. 19 through 20 at the Florida Everblades.
Skodnick is the new director of broadcasting and communications for the Sea Wolves.
“There is a real tangible excitement in the office,” Skodnick said. “We’ve sold more season tickets (in excess of 1,500) than ever in the history of the organization and that goes back to the first season.
“Part of the draw for me was the chance to come somewhere where I can put my own stamp on the broadcast and everything that happens because we are starting from scratch. At the same time, we’re going to give everybody a chance to cheer come October.”
WTNI-AM 1640 will carry the Sea Wolves’ games in the upcoming season as well as a coach’s show.
The 27-year-old brings an impressive resume’ and enthusiasm to his job, growing up in hockey country in Princeton, N.J. He was able to listen to the broadcasts of Gene Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers, Sam Rosen of the New York Rangers and Howie Rose of the New Jersey Devils as well as baseball announcers including Tim McCarver, Ralph Kiner, Phil Rizzuto and Harry Kalas.
He attended St. Lawrence University, a school in Canton, N.Y., that is a Division I power in college hockey. He got an internship with the ECHL, which led to a graduate assistantship with the Buffalo Sabres, and that in turn led to an announcing job with the Johnstown Chiefs last season.
As Skodnick described it, when the Sea Wolves job came open, it was a chance to “work in hockey where he wouldn’t freeze in the winter.”
Like everyone else following Hurricane Katrina, the Sea Wolves are starting over from Ground Zero.
“The organization as a whole pretty much lost everything when the arena flooded,” Skodnick said. “That means ordering everything from office furniture to computers to toner to skate sharpeners.”
For the on-ice product, the Sea Wolves front office and coach Steffon Walby are putting the roster together.
The Mississippi Coast Coliseum was testing the ice a few weeks ago, freezing the floor and putting on a layer of ice.
“When you hear the compressor start up, you know it is that much closer,” he said.
The Sea Wolves will be a part of the nine-team South Division in the American Conference.
“There is a big pool of guys to draw from and build your team,” Skodnick said. “That makes it possible to be a contender as long as the coach can do the recruiting and that is something Steffon Walby can absolutely do.
“There is no reason we can’t be competitive out of the gate.”
Skodnick said that he will bring some emotion, as well as analysis, to the broadcasts.
“I think I make the games exciting for the listeners,” he said. “I definitely get animated and excited.
“Hockey in itself is a game of emotion. You have 20 guys on each bench trying to beat the other 20 guys. If it wasn’t a game of emotion, there wouldn’t be fistfights.
“I love the game and think my broadcasts will convey my love of the game to the listeners.”