Rogers' work kept area fans in two games

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:13 AM ET

SAULT STE. MARIE -- London TV play-by-play man Jon Abbott had to be quick on his feet Monday night.

London's Rogers Television crew knew it had to be prepared for the first televised game at the new Steelback Centre. They didn't bank on the lights going out 58 seconds into Game 3 of the Knights-Greyhounds OHL Western Conference semifinal.

"I had just finished saying, 'Welcome to the first televised game in the fantastic Steelback Centre' and the lights go out on the second shift," Abbott said. "It ended up being a 19-minute delay but we just kept talking, showed some highlights of the other two games that night and had some commercial breaks."

There's been some chatter the TV presence is what caused the lights to go out.

"We knew that was going to happen because we were the difference in the building on the night," said Rogers producer Kris Bergholz, "but we worked through it."

Thanks to Rogers' initiative and the demand of southwestern Ontario fans, viewers got to see the two games here. The 'Hounds don't have a deal with local cable provider Shaw, but Rogers saw a viable opportunity to bring the games to a large area audience.

"It's been a blast," Bergholz said. "I just came from the Ontario peewee championships in Ottawa to here, so to do the first (high definition) broadcast there and to be able to do the first two games here at this arena is great.

"I was in the truck for 15 hours and I haven't been home in a week, but it's been worth it. We had to ask Shaw's permission to be here and they've been outstanding."

Though the London Rogers group focuses mainly on home games, they shipped a crew of 15, six cameras, a production truck and a rented mobile satellite from Michigan to Sault Ste. Marie for the two games. To avoid U.S. border issues, the crew drove the truck the long way around through Toronto and Sudbury -- a trip that took 11 1/2 hours -- rather than the seven-hour drive through Michigan.

"When you go across the border, everything in the truck has to be bonded and accounted for and it's a very time-consuming and expensive proposition," Bergholz said.

Abbott, from Aylmer, was fortunate to receive some time off from the moving company he works for. He also considered himself lucky to team up with former Knights play-by-play guy Leigh Cunningham, a Sarnia native who filled in at the last minute in the colour commentary role for his former broadcast partner Rick Doyle, who had work obligations.

Cunningham, who called Windsor's games on radio, relished the opportunity to be back covering the playoffs. He was in the booth for London's run to the 2005 Memorial Cup and covered the team's road to the OHL final last year.


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