The game may have changed, but some elements will be forever etched in the annals of the hockey world. Listening to the game on radio is arguably the most quintessential aspect of hockey in our country, especially when it comes to the junior ranks.
For the past two seasons Moncton Wildcats fans have listened to one of the best in the business, Tim Roszell.
Roszell’s journey in sports started like many other young Canadians dreaming of playing in the Major leagues and at hockey’s highest level.
The dream of playing for Roszell, quickly turned into describing the action.
“Probably in my early-to-mid teens,” Roszell said of the dream to get into the broadcast world.
Roszell’s hockey playing days ended when he was thirteen, but he went on to play high-level baseball well into his twenties. “I played baseball for Carleton University for years, but I knew I wasn’t going to have a playing career in either sports, but I still wanted to be a part of them.”
“Broadcasting was something that always intrigued me,” confessed Roszell.
“I listened to a lot of hockey and baseball games on the radio growing up, and I know that was a huge influence. Creating that image of a live event, happening right before my eyes, creates such a rush for me.”
“There’s nothing like it,” admitted Roszell who was born and raised in Chatham, Ontario
Before he ever called a live hockey game Roszell honed his skills in unorthodox way.
“I would practice while playing video games.” Roszell said.
“The video game wasn’t quite as fast as live action, but it definitely helped.”
Roszell’s passionate journey into sports broadcasting all started at Fanshawe College.
Roszell who now calls Saint John home is quick to credit instructor Jim Van Horne of Fanshawe College for being a pivotal role model and mentor in his journey.
“I took Broadcast Journalism at Fanshawe in my mid-twenties and connected instantly with Jim.”
“He took me under his wing and helped me adjust to life as a mature student.”
Roszell remembers his first game like it was yesterday.
“My first actual game called was a 2003 High School Hockey Championship game in London, Ontario, as part of a class assignment during my time at Fanshawe.”
“It was pretty nerve-wracking, but it felt really good.”
“I think I called one period before it was someone else’s turn.”
It might have only been for one period, but Roszell’s debut was one to remember.
“It confirmed for me that play-by-play was something I wanted to do.”
Tim Roszell’s passion and love of the game can be heard every time he’s behind the mic.
It didn’t take the consummate professional very long to find work in the broadcast world.
Roszell’s mentor Jim Van Horne helped his prized apprentice connect with a Jr. B team in Strathroy, Ontario, you could the say the rest is history.
“The following season I was calling Jr. B, Jr. C and Senior games in multiple leagues.”
“The team’s president used to record its games on a small, handheld camera, and I plugged my microphone into it and called the games.”
“He would then send the games to the player’s families.”
Obviously this was before games were being streamed online, but it was clear Roszell was making a name for himself in the business.
The always-humble well-spoken play-by-play man is very fortunate to have had so many people in his corner throughout his career.
“I’ve been able to work with a lot of great coaches and team staff members over the years who were all mentors to me in their own way.”
“It’s a long list and I’m very lucky.”
Roszell’s journey in broadcasting would take him east to Halifax, then on to the Port City.
Roszell was working in radio with Rogers in Halifax, when he asked for a transfer to Saint John to work full-time in radio and call games for the Sea Dogs.
Roszell became the voice of the Saint John Sea Dogs on News 88.9.
“I joined the Sea Dogs for the 2006-07 season, the team’s second season, as a play-by-play announcer.”
“It was really rewarding to watch the team grow from an expansion franchise into a championship team in just its sixth season,” explained Roszell.
The Chatham, Ontario product joined the team in a full-time capacity in 2013 managing communications while maintaining his play-by-play role.
“The players were not just great on-ice performers, but terrific people. I’m still in contact with several of them to this day,” Roszell said proudly.
“The fans were absolutely amazing and treated me so well,” Roszell added.
After five years with the organization Roszell was shockingly relieved of his duties.
A decision that obviously didn’t sit well with Sea Dogs fans and the hockey world.
Roszell had hosted two town hall style meetings for the Sea Dogs fan base, less than twelve hours later he was let go by the organization.
Countless Sea Dogs fans were irate with the long time play-by-play announcers release. An online petition asking for Roszell to return to his role circulated quickly and had 850 signatures on it within a matter of days.
From shocking disappointment to pure elation, the charismatic play-by-play man wouldn’t have to wait very long for his next opportunity.
“I was absolutely ecstatic about getting the Wildcats’ job,” confessed Roszell.
“I’d had no idea the team was seeking a play-by-play announcer when I had been in contact with the club. It was an absolutely perfect scenario.”
“I cannot thank Mr. Irving and the Wildcats enough for the opportunity to join a first-class organization.”
“I felt like I belonged. I felt accepted by players and staff right away,” Roszell said.
“To be able to come to the team as it launched a new building as well was just amazing. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to continue doing what I love.”
As Roszell’s passionate journey behind the mic continues one thing is certain he will never forget his place and role in the game.
“My favourite part of the job has always been bringing the game to life for fans.”
“Painting that picture.”
“Telling that story.”
“It’s very rewarding to me to know that, in some small way, I have helped increase the level of enjoyment of the game for fans. I hope people can tell that when I’m excited during a game, it’s because I’m genuinely excited. I’m not putting anything on.”
Roszell “calls it the way he sees it,” which in this day and age is very rare.
So what’s his secret formula behind being so entertaining, informative and always on point?
“I don’t really have a “secret” to being entertaining over the years,” admitted Roszell.
“That’s all in the eye of the beholder, but I’ve tried to be honest during my broadcasts, and I’m proud of that.”
“Being genuine is important to me.”
“I’ve strived to be the same person on the microphone as I am off of it.”
What you see and hear is what you get with Tim Roszell!
Roszell’s ability to describe the play, tell the story and paint the picture is truly unique, but it’s his preparation and research that is unparalleled.
“My game prep can take several hours, depending on the opponent. Games against Maritimes Division teams are easier since we see them eight or nine times a year. I try to follow media in each market to stay on top of team news, roster moves and interesting tidbits. I’ve developed a system over the years of having pertinent information at my fingertips for every broadcast.”
Obviously, Roszell has a unique perspective on the Moncton Wildcats, you could say he’s seen it all in his time in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“I like the way this Wildcats team is put together,” explained Roszell.
“It’s got all the makings of a contender.”
“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of championship teams before. The thought of potentially going on another long playoff run with the Wildcats is very exciting.”
From subtle beginnings to calling games at the Memorial Cup, Tim Roszell’s exciting journey in the game continues.
Always eager to give back Roszell offers up the following advice for any young aspiring broadcaster wanting to break into the sports world.
“My advice for up-and-coming broadcasters is to be willing to find any way possible to practice your craft.”
“My first consistent hockey play-by-play was standing in a concession area, calling games into a camcorder with no guarantee that anyone would ever see or hear them, other than the people in line buying hot dogs and popcorn.”
“That experience was invaluable to me,” confessed Roszell.
“Don’t be afraid to put yourself in a similar position. Regardless of the sport, find a local youth team looking for a little extra exposure, maybe needing an extra set of hands.”
Roszell’s final two pieces of advice is undoubtedly the most important of them all.
“Get over any fear of looking or feeling foolish, in this line of work, you’re putting yourself out there on every broadcast.”
“You have to be accessible to fans because the more you engage them, the more they will rely on you and trust you for information.”
Listening to the game on radio is arguably the most quintessential aspect of hockey in our country, especially when Tim Roszell is behind the mic.