Photo provided by Dave Starman
If you asked any fan of Men’s College Hockey at the Division One Level to name their favorite national announcer of this sport, you would get some names of people all doing great things. One common name in that group would most likely include Ben Holden. The proud Michigander has been in this game for well over a decade, and has lent his voice to some of its premiere moments in primetime games. One of his most memorable goal calls came on the Austin Poganski penalty shot overtime goal against Minnesota Duluth on February 19, 2016. The tone of the call, as Holden often does in the many sports he calls throughout the year, matched the moment. The call, and the goal were so good together, the next fall at NCHC Media Day, Fighting Hawks Men’s Hockey Head Coach Brad Berry told Holden that the clip was the first one on the recruiting video. Holden said of that moment that it was ” the best goal call of my college hockey career.”
A lot of things went into that moment, as do go into every broadcast for Holden. His former partner on CBS Sports, Dave Starman was effusive with his praise. For what makes Holden a consumate pro, Starman said that “his preparation, and communication with his team is what does it.” Throughout all of his calls, Holden knows how to match his tone and energy to the game being played while never dropping the energy level. Even in lopsided games, he knows how to bring fans along and get them as invested in the moment as he is. For this year, Holden will be doing games on the Big 10 Network, and be pursuing other opportunities in this sport as they arise. Over the summer he is broadcasting select games for Major League Rugby.
Regardless of the sport, Starman sees the value in Holden and was clear of his potential, saying that in comparing Holden to NHL announcers, “he would be in the top 10 in radio or on TV HANDS DOWN no questions asked.” He further went on to compare Holden’s style to another legend in the sport, calling him ” Gary Thorne lite.”
Wherever he goes to call the game, Holden, according to Starman, is always in search of two things, a Tim Hortons, and many storylines to broach throughout his time on air. He knows how to involve his entire team, and set up his color commentator well. As Starman explained, “because of his personality I never felt he would leave me without something to say.” Finally, he added another consistent trait of Holden’s saying “the one thing that he would always bring to the table is how do we make the show better.”
Holden is thankful for all that the sport has given him, saying ” the game has given me so much.” Since 2004 he has been calling games in this sport, and has been a part of some of its biggest moments. The Poganski overtime penalty shot marker, the advent of video review, the rise of NHL talent coming through this great sport, the last games of the previous iteration of the CCHA, the first seven years of the NCHC culminating with broadcasting the Omaha Pod, and so many more moments have Holden’s clear, unique, and smooth voice guiding us along. Holden’s unique story, and inspiration of his grandfather, his Navy background, and consistent persistence in this sport are all inspiring markers for those looking to get into this game in the professional sense, and not being sure of the path.
Ben Holden who is a, consummate professional is proof that this game welcomes and rewards those who put in the hard work, and a model not just for broadcasters at this level, but for those looking to get involved covering a sport they love professionally, and an inspiration to keep grinding and pushing ahead.
As Holden said of the upcoming season ” let’s keep making memories.” This game and broadcasting in general, and is better because Ben Holden and his unique and consistent dedication to his craft is a part of it. In terms of what he wants to see in college hockey, it centers around one principle, ” let’s showcase these guys more,” Holden would support uniformity in ice surfaces, and for those that want to wear them, half shields like those in the NHL wear.
To sum up what many in this game think of Ben, his preparation, personality, and persistence, we close with Starman, who simply said of Holden, “he is just money.”
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