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Minor-league and college hockey? Doc Emrick happy to call it

Sports commentator Doc Emrick waves to fans as

Sports commentator Doc Emrick waves to fans as he is presented with a car from the New Jersey Devils during a ceremony to honor him before their game against the Vancouver Canucks. (Feb. 24, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

'I just want to go to a practice," Doc Emrick said. "This is what it's come to."

Such is life for a hockey junkie during yet another lockout: happy to be in Central New York Thursday, far from the nearest NHL rink and looking forward to Cornell's goalies taking the ice for an afternoon skate.

It beats the alternative, which is no hockey at all.

"It's disappointing, but I'm also used to it," said Emrick, NBC's lead play-by-play man, who sought some perspective in a very old John Milton sonnet: "They also serve who only stand and wait."

Rather than stand and wait for the NHL, though, he is doing what he did during the 2004-05 lockout, and what he does best: call hockey.

Last Friday it was an ECHL game between the Fort Wayne Komets and Evansville IceMen, working alongside his first sportscasting inspiration: Bob Chase, 86, whom Indiana native Emrick, 66, first heard on radio in 1960.

"I didn't want to be Bob Chase; I just wanted to be like him," Emrick said. When he recently heard that Chase long had wanted to call a game with him, his first reaction was, "You're kidding."

His second: "Well, I've got the time. Let's do it, sooner rather than later."

That experience followed his debut calling figure skating in Kent, Wash., last month, where producer Sam Flood advised him that there are different play-by-play rules for that game.

"He said, 'Here's how it works: You can talk until the music starts, then you don't talk until the music's over,' " Emrick said.

Friday night on NBC Sports Network, he will get his latest hockey fix with his second visit to Cornell's Lynah Rink for the renewal of its famously fierce rivalry with Harvard, a series immortalized in the book and movie "Love Story."

Emrick also called the game during the 2004-05 lockout. "I'm going to try to make some comparisons so people who are starved for the NHL have a grasp of what it means," he said. "It's a rivalry like Dodgers-Giants, only the thing is neither of these teams has moved."

On Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, Emrick is scheduled for a Boston College vs. Boston University home-and-home. By then, he hopes an end to the NHL labor dispute will be at hand. If not, there's always Michigan State vs. Notre Dame on Dec. 7.

Are college fans duly impressed when the voice of hockey in the United States walks in? "They are always very pleasant," he said. "I think they see the smile on my face, that I'm so happy to be inside a rink.''


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