By Dylan Hand
UNH held a press conference Wednesday to unveil the new video board inside the Whittemore Arena. Speeches by athletic director Marty Scarano, women’s hockey head coach Hilary Witt, and men’s hockey head coach Dick Umile accompanied by a video demonstration on the board kicked off the event.
Hanging high above the ice, the four-sided video board has screens measuring 9 feet high by 15 feet wide. The board, and the 150-foot-long LED ribbon wrapping around the end zone, will add to not only the fan experience, but also the quality of both hockey programs. Scarano claims one of the main reasons for the board was for recruiting. Hockey programs today are becoming so competitive, and it takes any detail to set a school apart for incoming recruits. Now, the Wildcats are able to offer the newest video board in the Hockey East.
Adding the ability to display video content at hockey games will revamp and energize the fan experience. UNH Wildcat Productions, part of the UNH Athletic Communications department, will take control of the board during games, providing a live broadcast of the events. A new control room added in the Field House will host all the equipment necessary to provide videos to hockey fans. In addition to live footage and replays of games, the video board will have fun activities and promotions including a kiss cam.
The desire for a video board is not new. UNH was one of three teams to not have a video board in the 12-team Hockey East conference. Changes needed to be made to keep up with all the other schools in the conference.
“I promised coach Umile that we wouldn’t be the last in Hockey East with a video board, although we did come close,” Scarano said.
Ideas were proposed in the past to keep up with other teams, but the funds were never really there. Because of this, each time the coaches were told about finally getting a video board, they viewed it as the “Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
This time around, the funds were there, thanks to a generous donation by John Small, a UNH trustee. This donation influenced more donations for the most recent video board plan.
When the coaches were told that the video board was official, Scarano summed up their reactions with one word: skepticism.
“They’ll believe it when they see it,” Scarano said, adding that Umile has been extremely patient over the years waiting for the video board.
What was once an idea met by skepticism is now a reality, however.
Umile, entering his 26th season as head coach at UNH, is extremely excited after being patient for so many years. Witt, in her second season as head coach of the women’s team, did not have to wait as long as Umile. She attributes the fast turnaround with the video board to the hard-working culture that she sees throughout the university.
“Marty (Scarano) said that it would happen and it did. I only hope that that happens every time,” Witt joked.
Both coaches ended their speeches hoping to have some highlights to play on the board. We will see if that happens when the video board debuts on Saturday Sept. 26 in a women’s exhibition game versus Oakville at 1 p.m.