As the first period of today's milestone game came to a close, the host Spokane Chiefs held a 4-1 lead over the visiting Kootenay Ice. The period was highlighted by slick passing and scoring and was punctuated by a pair of fights. Unfortunately... no one outside of Avista Stadium could see it.
Shaw TV coverage in Canada on both television and online was not available "due to technical difficulties". Fans in the Pacific Northwest of the United States are apparently going to be able to see the game albeit on a tape delay sometime late tonight.
There's really only one way to describe the turn of events for WHL fans who wanted to share in the viewing of the 1st ever outdoor WHL game: (see above)
I know I tried to watch the game online but like the rest of the people logged in to WHL Live, was subjected to video of some random talk show. The chat room that accompanies the video player was active with irate fans demanding a refund, an explanation or just outright disappointment. Some fans were contacting their local Shaw TV provider to see what was going on and then would relate the updates to the rest of the online refugees.
One would-be online watcher said the explanation he was given was that "SHAW was not producing the game themselves. They are getting the FSN broadcast and sharing it with Canada, but they can't get FSN feed because FSN isn't carrying it live and the truck they would use is in KHQ hands right now."
UPDATE: The WHL has released the following:
Due to technical issues beyond the control of the Western Hockey League the first ever WHL outdoor game LIVE broadcast was unable to air the first two periods of the Rockstar Outdoor Hockey Classic in Spokane, WA.It's really unfortunate. We had Commissioner Ron Robison on the program this morning promoting the game but it's really hard to get behind the league on this epic failure.
From this point forward the remainder of the game is now LIVE on SHAW TV and SHAW Direct in Canada and will be re-aired in its entirety at 5:00pm PT today, and tomorrow at 12:00pm PT, both again on SHAW TV and SHAW Direct.
The WHL will also pots a 120 second highlight pack to the WHL ftp within 30 minutes of tonight’s games available for use by any members of the media. Download details will be sent out once upload is complete.
The WHL apologizes for the inconvenience.
There is a video-only feed available via the Spokane Chief's website but it's from a camera mounted (I'm guessing) on top of the baseball stadium and appears to be about a mile away from the ice surface. All it shows with any clarity is the ridiculous distance away from the ice surface that fans at the event are having to sit.
Jeff Hollick's blog has photos up from the stadium and you can see what I mean. Here's a question: Why wouldn't you have temporary bleachers set up in the outfield? There is one side of the rink that is virtually void of spectators (save for 2 tiny bleachers set up inside the bluelines). Seriously, look at the photos at Jeff's site, I've borrowed one of them here (click to enlarge):
Compare that set up with what we saw in the AJHL's outdoor game up in Fort McMurray back at the end of November. It's a night and day difference.
It's really unfortunate for the WHL but at least they get a second crack at it in February when Calgary hosts Regina.
As I finish typing this up, Spokane has gone up 5-1. I'd love to be able to tell you that it was a beautiful goal but...