Matt Little’s love of broadcasting has landed him the trip of a lifetime.
Little, the voice of the Valley Junior A Wildcats on FASTHockey, leaves this week for Budapest, Hungary, where he will provide play-by-play for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) women’s U-18 world hockey championships. The tournament will feature some of the best young female hockey players in the world.
Little – who is a creative writer at Magic/AVR by day - has done play-by-play for a number of years and has been doing it professionally for the past six.
He started with the Pictou County Weeks Crushers while living in New Glasgow and spent four years broadcasting their road games.
This, he said, “was before FASTHockey was part of the league. I was working for the only station that regularly broadcast junior A road games.”
Little moved to the Valley in 2012 and, when the Wildcats moved to Kentville last summer, he contacted the team.
“I approached the Wildcats, told them I was here, that I knew the MHL like the back of my hand.”
Little got the gig and has broadcast all the Wildcats’ home games this season.
“Play-by-play is what I like to do. I’ve wanted to be a play-by-play announcer since I was seven. Some people dream of scoring the goal that wins the Stanley Cup. My dream has always been to be able to call the game,” Little said.
As for how the Hungary opportunity came about, he said, “I’m going because I asked to go. It’s that simple.”
Back in December, the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation hosted an U-20 men’s championship.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of international hockey. I follow things that 99 per cent of Canadians probably don’t even know exist,” he said.
“Some people dream of scoring the goal that wins the Stanley Cup. My dream has always been to be able to call the game.” Matt Little
“I saw it was live-streamed and I tuned in and found it was just the video – no one talking, even in Hungarian.”
Little was aware the women’s U-18 tournament was coming up, so he contacted the Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation and suggested play-by-play would improve their product and overall exposure. A tape from a broadcast of one of his Wildcats’ games sealed the deal and he’ll be attending as a tournament volunteer.
“It’s not a paid gig, but the experience is invaluable. For years, I’ve wanted to be able to say I’d worked for the IIHF. Now, I’ll be able to do that.”
The tournament runs from March 23 to 30. This will be the seventh year for the IIHF U-18 women’s worlds and, Little says, “it’s a pretty good bet that Canada and the U.S. will meet in the final.” In the past six years, Canada has won three times; the USA won the other three
“The rest of the world is definitely catching up. Canada and the U.S. are being challenged, but there’s still quite a gap between the top two and everyone else,” he said.
The rest of the eight-team field includes Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Russia, Japan and the host Hungarians.
“I don’t know much Hungarian, but I’m studying up and I should be able to cope,” he said. “I’m more worried about making my flight connections than being able to speak the language.”
The games will be broadcasts for free via YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/magyarjegkorong