CHICAGO —As the door to the NBCSN broadcast booth opened, Kate Scott had a big smile on her face.
“We did it! OK, Round 1 done. When do we get to do another?” said Scott, who called the first NHL game broadcast and produced solely by women in the United States when the St. Louis Blues defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 at United Center on Sunday.
It was the first hockey broadcast of any kind for Scott, who anchors, reports, hosts and does play-by-play for the Pac-12 Networks and NBCSN. Scott was joined by United States Olympic gold medalists AJ Mleczko in the booth and Kendall Coyne Schofield between the benches. Kathryn Tappen anchored in-studio coverage with Jennifer Botterill, who won a gold medal three times for Canada.
“Why not, as [NBC sports broadcaster] Mike Tirico told me a couple of days ago, be as stupid as him and make my hockey debut on national television?” Scott said with a laugh. “It was fast, it was great, it was fun. I mean, two of the best franchises in the NHL, here at the United Center, a building with so much history, alongside AJ and Kendall, gold medalists who I was excited to meet, let alone work with. It was a night I’m going to relive forever.”
Sportsnet also had an all-female broadcast and production team when the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Calgary Flames 5-3 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday.
The first NHL game by an all-female broadcast team was when the New Jersey Devils defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in overtime at Prudential Center on March 7, 2008, Claudine Douville and Daniele Sauvageau called the game while Helene Pelletier and France St. Louis had intermission coverage for French-language network RDS.
The hours leading up to the 7:38 p.m. ET puck drop were busy for Scott, Mleczko and Coyne Schofield. Aside from the locker room and coaches visits that’s part of their usual pregame prep, the three were doing promotional interviews and receiving many texts from well-wishers.
“The leadup to it certainly was different because there was a lot of attention, a lot of hype about it, which is wonderful that there’s attention and people are excited about it,” Mleczko said. “At one point it put me off balance a little bit. Like a player, I have a routine and I didn’t feel like I could have that routine. But once the puck dropped and once you get going, it’s just like any other game.
“I can’t believe it was Kate’s first hockey game. She was smooth, she was really easy to work with, we had a great rhythm. I’ve done a lot of games up top [in the booth] and a lot of games down low [between the benches], too. The three of us have never done a game together before, so whether male, female, doesn’t matter. If you haven’t done a game together, you’re trying to find your rhythm and I thought it was a pretty easy one to find.”
Scott said she leaned on Mleczko, who she met for the first time in early February, throughout the game. That was especially true at 14:59 of the second period, when there was a fight between Blues defensemanVince Dunnand Blackhawks forwardDrake Caggiula, and a delay while officials reviewed Blues forwardOskar Sundqvist‘s elbow to Blackhawks defensemanAdam Boqvist, reducing it to a two-minute minor off the original five-minute major call.
“We have a fight and I’m wondering, am I supposed to do play-by-play? Am I supposed to lay out? Being beside AJ and knowing she’s been doing this for a while now was such a comfort to me,” Scott said. “Usually as the play-by-play announcer, you’re the one who’s in charge and you know everything about everything. But I knew coming into this one that I was going to lean on AJ and she was incredible.”
History was made with the broadcast. The women involved hope it shows that there are more opportunities out there.
“It’s significant because of the visibility it provides,” Mleczko said. “For people sitting at home watching the three of us here, and [Tappen] and [Botterill] in the studio, seeing females talking about hockey the way we are — we’re very prepared and educated in this game — and all the promotions we did, showing the truck, that the production is amazing. For anybody sitting at home, boys, girls, men, women, coming out of college, whatever it is, it allows them to understand there are more opportunities. They may not choose to go that way, but the media’s open to men, women, anyone, and visibility is the biggest part.”