We're happy to tell you all that the wonderful Drew Goldfarb has joined the commentary team for NHLGamer and will continue calling play-by-play for both the NACL and the ECL. You've already got a taste of what he is capable of but now we're hoping for a longer term partnership. Drew was kind enough to answer a few questions to help us learn more about him.
Drew is a two-time EMMY-nominated sportscaster, and has been a sports fan his entire life. Goldfarb began covering sports professionally in 2007. A recipient of eight Associated Press Awards since 2010, 2015 EMMY Award nominee (NATAS Suncoast Chapter), winner of the 2018 WVBA Award for Best Sportscast, and 2019 EMMY Award nominee (NATAS Ohio Valley Chapter), he has earned recognition for his work covering sports at all levels throughout his career, including being highlighted by his alma mater, Florida State University, and by his high school during its 25th Anniversary celebration. Goldfarb has experience in reporting, anchoring, hosting, play-by-play and voiceover work. In addition, he holds a degree in Media Production from Florida State University (B.S., '10) and is highly-trained in both shooting and editing video for film, TV and news. Whether it's through work or on his own, Drew stays involved in the community, including serving as an official business sponsor of Hockey Saves, Inc.
Photo credit: Jenny Leigh
Congrats on being the first caster with NHL broadcasting experience to call an NHL 6v6 esports match! Did you watch any games before getting involved with NACL/NHLGamer? How was preparing for an esports match different from your other experiences.
Drew: Thank you! It's an honor, and I'm happy to be a part of things!
I did manage to tune in for a couple of broadcasts before I called my first game with the NACL and NHLGamer. I've definitely seen clips and videos of NHL esports games before, and I do watch a lot of game and esports streamers (on Twitch and the posted "highlights" on YouTube). Preparation started the same way for me – making a roster sheet for each team with names, numbers, stats and (if necessary) pronunciation guides. I'd say the two biggest differences for me in my prep work are the size of the rosters and the starting point. When I worked my first NHL game for FOX Sports Florida (Florida Panthers vs Pittsburgh Penguins, ironically), I had been a Panthers fan since the dawn of the franchise. That gave me a much deeper background and understanding of the history and context for every little thing a bit better than coming into a new league that I wasn't quite as familiar with (it's hard to compare anything to that, when I grew up having Florida Panthers season tickets).
What are some major similarities or differences that you've found in calling virtual and traditional hockey? Are there any unique challenges that come with calling an esports match?
The speed is very different, and the way the speed is different is very different. I've found that, with esports, much like the game clock, the game itself is played at a much quicker rate... almost like it's on 1.5x or 2x speed. Passes are thrown quicker, dekes and moves are performed quicker, and when one moment wraps up, the next moment arrives quicker (you don't see many non-OT situations in traditional hockey games where an odd-man rush has 3 passes, a shot, a huge save, and then immediately another odd-man rush the other way, two passes, a save, a rebound AND a goal in a matter of seconds). The biggest challenge, for me, is player identification. In traditional hockey, in addition to having a giant number on a player's back, things like stick choice, skating style, or certain equipment quirks are much more apparent from player to player. While certain things like a player not wearing a helmet or having super-bright skates do vary, they’re less clear watching a stream than being in an arena or at a rink. Also, when there are 12 player icon colors being used, the difference between brown, orange and yellow (center, left defenseman, right defenseman for the non-hosting team) can be tough to see.
What were your expectations coming into your first cast (production, gameplay, co-casters, FUN)? I hope the fact that you returned to call more games for NHLGamer means we reached or even surpassed those expectations.
My expectations were definitely met and then some. The graphics package, having an actual Producer/Director in voice chat with me during and between games and the amount of prep work put in for each broadcast by the NHLGamer team is incredible. I did have a blast, too, and while I knew it would be fun, it was definitely more fun than I expected.
Are there any specific team(s) that you're looking forward to watching / calling in the future?
I’m excited to get to see a good range of teams and styles. I like seeing variety in the teams that I see to see how many different approaches can be taken. Seeing different play types and strategies that teams develop based on their own unique build, strengths and weaknesses makes things especially interesting. I’m also a bit of a logo and uniform nut, so it’s great to see the variety in designs that teams create.
After your experience calling action for the best North American and European teams, what do you think the future possibilities are for NHL 6v6 esports?
I think it could really continue to grow. The prize pool being offered for the ECL Elite League is remarkable, and there’s no reason that NHL esports couldn’t get even bigger around the world.
Besides your introduction (ripped from your own website), what are some other cool things we should know about you? (Ex. Word on the street is you're a wrestling fan)
It is true that I’m a wrestling fan. I stopped watching for a number of years (basically high school and college), but I got back into it in early 2011 and haven’t looked back. For those curious, favorite wrestlers by era would be Bret Hart, Steve Austin, Jeff Hardy, and CM Punk (I’m counting him as the “current” era…his “pipebomb” promo is what got me back into wrestling for good). In addition to house shows, independent wrestling cards, a CMLL show in Mexico City, and WWE Raw and SmackDown episodes, I’ve attended two Royal Rumble PPVs (2006 and 2019) and went to WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans. I originally had tickets to AEW’s Double or Nothing in 2019, as well, but ended up not being able to go (still holding out some hope the 2020 edition might happen at some point here in Las Vegas). Hockey-wise, I’ve also attended two NHL Winter Classics (2010 in Boston and 2011 in Pittsburgh), three NHL Drafts (2001, 2014, 2015) and two NHL Scouting Combines (2014, 2015). I also scaled “The Torne” at the United States Military Academy alongside the 2014-15 Florida Panthers players during their preseason trip there. I was also hosting the pre- and post-game shows for the Panthers’ game that season against Washington when they set the NHL record for longest shootout, and the game against Toronto where both Panthers goalies got hurt, leading to the better understanding and implementation of the “Emergency Goalie” rule. That also led to me being able to say that I’ve made a glove save against Bill Lindsay on a shootout attempt AND that I stopped Hockey Hall of Famer Denis Potvin on a breakaway… a breakaway where he barreled into me, too.
Thank you very much Drew and welcome to the NHL Esports community!
Follow Drew in action together with Nick "F5Penguin" DiMeo tonight as the NACL Semifinals kick off! We're broadcasting games 1-3 between 6th Sense and BBB, starting 8:00 PM EST/2 AM CEST at www.twitch.tv/NHLGamer.