Greenville Road Warriors

Road Warriors skater

Road Warriors skater

Photographing this hockey season so far has taken me to a number of different places, but namely Dubuque and Cincinnati.  On December 29th of 2012, the travel was to Greenville, South Carolina to photograph the Greenville Road Warriors … which happens to be over a thousand miles away; You call it crazy, I call it dedication to my craft.  To each their own :)

Greenville Road Warriors' Bretton Stamler races in the zone after the puck.

Greenville Road Warriors’ Bretton Stamler races in the zone after the puck.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the Warriors staff members, given a schedule of the night’s festivities (down to a per-tv-timeout basis) and talked about that briefly.  Next up was a tour of the arena, shown where I’m allowed to photograph from, and all of my questions were answered.  After that we had some time to kill before the game started, so I went over a plan in my head of where I wanted to shoot and during which periods.  It is essential to make a plan like this ahead of time.  You don’t want to be on your way back from the game and think “Aw crap I completely forgot to shoot from the Zamboni entrance during the 3rd!”.  It’s happened to me, so don’t let it happen to you.  It’s also helpful to maybe have a list of what you want to try to shoot from each spot.

Watching the drills during pre-game warmups.

Watching the drills during pre-game warmups.

Photographed from the player entrance (to the ice) for warm-ups, and that was pretty sweet.  Seeing the players come out of the locker room, standing there, ready to take the ice, getting psyched up to play was awesome.  I love photographing that!  I always try to shoot warm-ups if I’m able to, and the reason is because it’s not quite as fast-moving as the game is, and you can get good close-ups that look like they’re taken in game situations.

Ready to take the ice for warmups.

Ready to take the ice for warmups.

For the first period, I shot from the Zamboni entrance.  I dislike shooting through the plexi-glass, but there was no other option here.  Most places I’ve shot at do not have photographer windows in the glass… just something to deal with.  Apparently the players like to see if they can shoot pucks through the little holes, and end up shattering the glass.  Fun for them, I’m sure… just not for us photographers.  Shooting through the glass makes the auto-focus freak out, and slow down… which is a very bad thing when photographing professional hockey players, skating right at you at top-speed.  Was still able to get some good photos though, so now we’re on to the second period.

Road Warriors goaltender Scott Stajcer.

Road Warriors goaltender Scott Stajcer.

The second period was the crown-jewel of why I wanted to photograph in Greenville.  When I had contacted their front office back in September prior to the season starting, I had questions on where I was all allowed to photograph from, and they allowed me access to photograph from the rafters.  Getting up there was a little sketchy, but once up there, it was completely amazing.  A good deal above the scoreboard, and looking straight down on hockey is a view that not many people see, outside of a video game.  From this vantage point I really wanted two different kinds of photos… the goalies making saves, and faceoffs.  They took a while to get… sometimes you have to be patient in order to get the photos you’re looking for.  Read that again, and burn it into your brain.  Sometimes you have to be patient in order to get the photos you’re looking for.

Scott Stajcer makes the save.

Scott Stajcer makes the save.

Me shooting from the rafters.

Me shooting from the rafters.

Jeremy Gouchie and Casey Pierro-Zabotel battle for a faceoff.

Jeremy Gouchie (white) and Casey Pierro-Zabotel battle for a faceoff.

Photographed the third period from the first row of the second deck, just off-center from the red-line… which was what I like to call “standard“.  I call it that because that’s a view that any spectator can get, at any time.  I don’t necessarily like to shoot from spots like this, but I did for two reasons:  1.  It seemed like a good way to get shots that the organization can use.  And 2:  I was able to shoot above the glass, and not through the safety netting that protects the fans behind the net.  Got some good images from here as well, and then the game was done.  The Road Warriors fell to the Gwinnett Gladiators 6-2… but it was a great experience, and everyone on the Road Warriors staff was incredibly kind, respectful, and accommodating – including arena security, who technically don’t work for the team, just the arena (The Bi-Lo Center, in this case).

Me, shooting during the 3rd.

Me, shooting during the 3rd period.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and definitely worth the highway miles.  Less than a week after returning home from Greenville, it was off to Milwaukee.  Expect another post on that coming soon.

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