Trial by fire for new Chilliwack Chiefs voice

Kraig Krause is studying and practicing round-the-clock, preparing to be the new radio play-by-play guy for the junior A team.

What Kraig Krause is about to do should scare him.

In less than a month he’ll sit behind a microphone and call his first live Chilliwack Chiefs game, with no prior experience.

Never before has the 20 year old done hockey play by play, which makes this a true trial-by-fire, sink-or-swim adventure.

He should be scared.

But he’s not.

“In a way I am, but I’m also confident in myself,” he said with a grin. “More than anything I’m ecstatic about the opportunity to immerse myself in the team and the game and the whole Chiefs culture.”

The Yale secondary school grad will handle the Chiefs on-line broadcasts, plus the Shaw TV broadcasts produced by VBN Sports. His live in-game reports will air on 89.5 The Drive.

As part of his preparation, he’s watching a documentary on Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, the legendary announcer who calls games for NBC and Versus.

“The biggest thing I’ve picked up watching him work is the vocabulary,” Krause said. “For example, having different words for dump-in. It’s a word that’s used a lot, so being able to say ‘throw it in’ or something else, having a large vocabulary will make the broadcast better.”

Snap quiz, says the sports writer.

How many words can you come up with for ‘shot?’

“Strike… fired… it’s a work in progress,” Krause laughed. “Beamed! That’s pretty much it.”

No one could blame Krause if he tried to imitate Emrick. But he promises he’s going to do the job ‘his way.’

“I don’t want to try to copy someone else and come across as an impersonator,” he noted. “I think I have my own flavour and my own unique way of doing things. It’s going to be Kraig Krause, not Jim Hughson or Don Taylor.”

One resource he can tap into is Rogers Sportsnet baseball broadcaster Jamie Campbell.

Krause met the former Toronto Blue Jays play by play man while working for the Vancouver Canadians baseball team.

“I was in high school at the time, with peach fuzz on my face, telling him I wanted to get into broadcasting,” Krause said. “He told me it’s a tough, tough business. You’re always going to have criticism, ups and downs. But told me that if I have passion for what I do, it won’t seem like a job.”

Krause acknowledges there’ll be bumps in the road and he knows he’ll be criticized, though he’ll try to make things as smooth as possible.

He’s got an excellent mentor to lean on in Chiefs marketing director Barry Douglas. A long-time radio man himself, Douglas can pass along tricks of the trade.

“He’s definitely the sensei,” Krause said. “I can pick up the phone or walk into his office and ask him any question, and he’s so positive. I’ve never seen him in a bad mood. It’s great to have a leader and a boss like that.”

The Chilliwack kid spent the last year in Ontario. York University in Toronto, specifically, where he was studying communications. He’s since transferred to the University of the Fraser Valley, happy to be close to home.

“It’s exciting to be back in the city I was born in and grew up in,” Krause said. “To be back in this building where I have so many great memories, I just want it to start.”

Krause sat in the stands Monday morning watching ice crews put the faceoff circles down for the coming season.

Players will start filtering into town soon for the start of training camp. Krause is in an interesting position where he’ll be in the same age range as the players he covers.

“I want to be really personable and get to know what they do off the ice,” he said. “I’m excited to talk to these guys, find out what they want to accomplish while they’re here and see how their lives are going to change.”

Krause will get his first live call when the preseason starts, and he’s imagined what the final 60 seconds before going live might feel like.

He can’t wait.

“My stomach will be in knots, I won’t lie, but I’m so excited,” he said. “I might even get a tear in my eye. You never know.”

Chilliwack’s preseason slate starts September 5 with a home game versus Surrey.

The team’s ‘1999 Camp’ runs Aug. 30-31 at Prospera Centre with main training camp starting soon after. See chilliwackchiefs.net for more.