The segment begins at 16:50. (You’ll need to sit through a few commercials to see it.)
On-ice vignettes and burgeoning hockey players from Saugerties graced living room television screens nationwide for approximately 40 seconds last Friday on the CBS Evening News.
Spurred by the viral story of a 42-year-old Canadian Zamboni driver stepping in as emergency goaltender for the Carolina Hurricanes and blocking eight out of 10 shots in a win against the Maple Leafs, CBS correspondent Steve Hartman, known for his award-winning series “Everyone has a Story” and his current series “On the Road,” set out to determine and demonstrate whether an “average Joe” — a role he took up himself — could easily pick up the goalie position in a pinch. (The answer was, resoundingly, no). The only position that he had held in hockey, he said in the special, was as a “hockey dad.” Hartman is a Catskill resident and the Saugerties rink is the closest ice opportunity. Thus, b-roll footage from the Kiwanis Ice Arena, where Hartman’s nine-year-old son Emmett plays in the six-and-up Rookie League, was folded into the segment, which aired Friday night on the Evening News with Norah O’Donnell.
“That rink, from the minute you walk into that place, it feels like home. The folks there are so accommodating, and my son who was never that into any sport has found a love. It’s his first love, the Kiwanis ice rink. I’ve never seen him so passionate about a place,” said Hartman. “That’s why I wanted to feature it.”
Shown in the segment are shots of the young players from the vantage point of the goalie, achieved by hanging a GoPro camera in the goal’s netting, a scene of Hartman watching intently from the arena’s stands and a portion shot in one of the arena’s locker rooms. Rookie league coach Pat Caffery said on Tuesday that a cameraman also set foot on the ice to capture footage of the young skaters.
“[They] told the kids to pretend they’re not even there and just play — It wasn’t all that difficult to set it up,” he said. “The kids got a blast out of it, they talked to a lot of the kids and of course all the kids knew the Steve’s son Emmett. It was like someone was taking a phone out on the ice, it wasn’t too intrusive.”
There were no corresponding mentions of Saugerties or its ice rink in the segment. While arena staffers were under the impression that some of the youth players would be interviewed and that more extensive footage would be use, Hartman said that a medical emergency cut the Saugerties shoot short.
“My son had had the flu, he got it seven days earlier. He seemed to be on the mend, and I said that we could include his Rookie League in this piece if he wanted,” said Hartman. “He lasted about 20, 30 minutes — keep in mind he can be on the ice for two, three hours — and I’m trying to get him off … We went to get some shots of him and he was practically in tears and was having trouble breathing — I didn’t get a chance to do any bigger interviews.”
Emmett was diagnosed with pneumonia, Hartman said; after a course of antibiotics, he has returned to school. Hartman said that he often produces segments that revolve around his children’s interests, and hoped that another opportunity to feature the Kiwanis Ice Arena would arise.
When speaking about the hockey program’s prominent presence in his son’s life, Hartman got choked up when he said that volunteers who teach children hockey, like Caffery, are “heroes.” Although Hartman has tackled a lifetime of heartwarming and tear-jerking human-interest topics, he said that he is an emotional person who is often struck by his stories after he conducts his interviews, when he is organizing the footage into a final product or watching his segments when they air.
“I’m so focused on getting the soundbite and getting the story, [but] I’ll watch the story through and that’s when they’ll finally hit me, in the same way it does the viewers,” he said. “I cry at a lot [during] commercials.”
The Kiwanis Ice Arena hosts a Junior Rangers hockey leagues for children four and up, called the “Learn to Play” program; the aforementioned Rookie League for children six and older; and a youth league for children over seven, as well as recreational leagues for adults. A new session of the Junior Rangers programs is beginning this weekend, and will run until April; interested parents can sign up their kids and find more information at www.saugertiesyouthhockey.com.