The minor league squad has managed a 13-9 record — good for second place in the Western Division — entering Friday night’s matchup against the Battle Creek Bumble Bees.
But last weekend during a road trip to Georgia, the team was decimated by injuries to its goalies, both of whom were injured in a loss to the Columbus River Dragons last Friday.
As it turned out, the team found a pair of quick-fix replacements for Saturday’s game against the River Dragons — both pulled from the radio broadcast booth, the Port Huron Times Herald reports.
Kelly Curl, an analyst for the Carolina Thunderbirds on Southern Broadcast Media classic hits “The Big 980” WTOB (980, 96.3) Winston-Salem, NC got the start. Backing up Curl was 22-year-old Jeremy Skiba, who does play-by-play for the Prowlers while holding the titles of director of broadcasting and media relations/executive director of sales in the team’s front office.
Curl, a former full-time player, likely wasn’t so stunned to get the call, despite not having been a regular player the last two seasons. But for Skiba, who found out Friday night he was being signed as an EBUG — “emergency backup goalie,” as they say in the business — the entire experience was truly a miracle on ice.
“[Player/coach] Joe Pace literally told me before we got to the hotel that he wanted to sign me as an emergency backup goalie,” Skiba tells the website Bus League Hockey. “I asked him maybe 10 times if he was serious, and each time he said yes, and I said, ‘alright this opportunity is never gonna happen again, I’ll do it!’ I had always joked… about being an emergency backup goalie in the past, but I couldn’t believe it was really going to happen.”
Skiba, whose playing resume consists mostly of youth hockey and college intramurals, signed his single-game contract before lunch on Saturday. That’s when things really got interesting.
The team initially tweeted that due to Skiba’s signing there’d be no broadcast of Saturday’s game — because Skiba would be on the Prowlers’ bench and not in the radio booth. But a fan offered a suggestion via Twitter: Skiba, in uniform, should call the game from the bench.
And with that, history was made. In extreme likelihood, Jeremy Skiba is now the one and only professional hockey player in history to execute a live radio broadcast from his team’s bench.
“It’s pretty intense,” Skiba told Bus League Hockey of his time on the bench. “Sometimes I’d get distracted by what the guys were saying or yelling, and I’d stop talking in my tracks to listen or to be quiet for them. The other difficult thing was the angles. Guys would lean over the bench at times, so seeing the bottom corners of the rink was troublesome at times. But it was so special to be right up there in the action. The guys enjoyed it and loved taking over when they could… Everyone had a good time with the broadcast, and it created some good ol’ unfiltered action.”
Skiba’s occasionally chaotic broadcast can be accessed HERE.
As it turned out, Skiba didn’t get any closer to the ice than his radio perch on Saturday: He didn’t play in Port Huron’s 11-9 loss. But he could be open to another chance.
“Well, a lot of things had to happen for this to come to fruition,” he told Bus League Hockey. “We had a great response on the broadcast and we have talked about doing it again in the future. For right now, we don’t have plans to. But never say never!”