Off the Ice: Gary Thorne to do play-by-play for the PBA Tour on ESPN

If you didn’t hear the news today, Gary Thorne, current voice of Baltimore Orioles baseball on MASN and voice of the NHL on ESPN/ABC from 1992-2004, has been tapped to be  the play-by-play voice for the three remaining PBA Tour majors (Alka-Seltzer Plus Liquid Gels United States Bowling Congress Masters at Strike Zone Bowling Center at Sunset Station in Las Vegas [January 29], the 69th U.S. Open at Brunswick Zone Carolier in North Brunswick, NJ [February 26], and the PBA Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes at Sunset Station in Las Vegas [April 16]) and the Chris Paul PBA Celebrity Invitational at Lucky Strike Lanes L.A. Live (to be aired on Super Bowl Sunday). Thorne replaces Rob Stone, who accepted the new studio host role at FOX Soccer.

This is gonna an interesting challenge for the veteran ESPN sportscaster. Sometimes he’s known for baseball, Major League or Little League, and sometimes he’s known for football; but for me, he was known as the voice of NHL hockey in the United States before the lockout. I mean, you could hear him call the NCAA’s Frozen Four, or doing the World Juniors last year on NHL Network, but for now, the only time you can hear him call an NHL game is if you play EA Sports’ NHL 12.

During that time, Thorne, teamed alongside with former Flyer Bill Clement, provided the calls to some of the most memorable moments in NHL history.  The Montréal Canadiens’ 24th Stanley Cup Championship in 1993, Gretzky’s 802nd goal, the New York Rangers’ first Stanley Cup title in 54 years, the Detroit Red Wings’ first Stanley Cup title in 42 years, the Red Wings repeating for Vladimir Konstantinov, Brett Hull’s controversial Stanley Cup-clinching goal in 1999, Canada vs. the United States for Olympic Gold in 2002, and Martin St. Louis forcing a Game 7 in 2004 after a blown call would’ve given the Calgary Flames their first Stanley Cup in 15 years. But my favorite moment that I can remember happened on June 7, 2003. Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final saw the Cinderella run of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim about to strike Midnight at the hands of the New Jersey Devils. Needing to win to force a Game 7 back at The Meadowlands, the Ducks won 5-2, propelled by the never-say-die spirit of their captain, Paul Kariya. With the Ducks leading 3-1 in the second period, Kariya was leveled hard by Devils captain Scott Stevens in a hit similar to the one that knocked out Eric Lindros during the 2000 Stanley Cup playoffs. He was lying motionless for a few minutes, but then was escorted to the locker room.  Minutes later, in a moment even Hollywood wouldn’t dare to write, he returned to the bench. 10 minutes and 59 seconds after the hit, Kariya scored to make it 4-1 Ducks. What made the moment even more memorable, was Gary Thorne’s call of “Off the floor! On the board! Paul Kariya!”

Granted, no one can be as good calling bowling like the legendary Chris Schenkel, but at least he can try…

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