Thorne's veteran voice to call Minnesota high school hockey tournament
During a time when many Minnesotans flock to Florida in a feeble attempt to outrun Mother Nature, Gary Thorne is doing just the opposite. Thorne, a well-known broadcaster who has covered everything from Major League Baseball and the NHL to Olympi...
During a time when many Minnesotans flock to Florida in a feeble attempt to outrun Mother Nature, Gary Thorne is doing just the opposite.
Thorne, a well-known broadcaster who has covered everything from Major League Baseball and the NHL to Olympic hockey and college football, will bring his venerable voice to this week's Minnesota state high school hockey tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in
St. Paul. That means leaving the Sunshine State, where he is doing spring training play-by-play for the Baltimore Orioles.
Thorne will arrive in Minnesota on Wednesday. He will team with Lou Nanne to call the Class AA games for KSTC-TV, which will air locally on WDIO Channels 10 and 13.
Thorne long has wanted to cover Minnesota's premier prep sporting event.
"It's a magical moment for the state," he said during a conference call with reporters Monday morning.
Thorne said he has had discussions in the past about calling the state hockey tournament, but it never materialized.
"We had talked about this before, and this time it worked out," he said. "They asked and I was available."
Despite a broadcasting career that spans five decades and has included a plethora of big-time assignments, Thorne has no reservations about calling a high school event. He understands the significance of this tournament and what it means in the State of Hockey.
"Whether you go on to play in the Olympics or the NHL, this is a big deal," he said.
Last month, Thorne told the Minnesota State High School League that during his time covering the NHL for ESPN, he got to know a number of Minnesota-born players that raved about the state tournament.
"They've said that next to winning the Stanley Cup, winning the Minnesota state high school hockey tournament is their biggest thrill," he told the MSHSL.
Thorne has broadcast 11 World Series and 16 All-Star games. He covered the NHL for 12 seasons.
This winter, he's followed Minnesota prep hockey from afar. His research really ramped up over the weekend once the bracket was finalized. Still, he won't claim to be an expert on any of the eight teams. That, he said, will be left up to people like Nanne, who is celebrating his 50th year of broadcasting the state tournament.
"I have been inundated with information, but by my request," Thorne said. "Over the next three days, I've got a stack of information to go through."
The Class AA tournament, which includes Duluth East, starts Thursday.
Thorne, so accustomed to calling professional and major college events, said he won't dramatically alter his style this week, but he also won't come down too hard on a teenager.
"This is a high school event," he said. "These are men, but they're not far from being kids."
The high temperature Wednesday in Sarasota, Fla., where the Orioles conduct their spring training, is forecast to be 77 degrees. In St. Paul, the forecast calls for a high of 27.
Thorne, citing his Maine upbringing, isn't overly concerned. Plus, he's got a nice perk that will allow him to avoid the elements.
"Fortunately, I'm staying at a hotel where I won't ever have to step outside," he said. "I can just walk right to the arena."