"What's your favorite sport to shoot?'' I have gotten asked that question a lot over the years of photographing sports and I've come to realize the answer is... Hockey.
I've pretty much photographed every sport out there and always come back to ice hockey when I think of that question. I've shot hundreds of games from pee wee hockey, high school, college and the NHL. I've even had the opportunity to photograph the Stanley Cup. It was always a dream of mine to shoot the Stanley Cup and being able to shoot all three games in Boston was an amazing experience! I even had a two page spread published in Sports Illustrated's Burins commemorative issue.
Anyway, I've always wanted to own a net cam for hockey and this past year, through a friend of mine (thanks Courtney), I got my hands on one. We actually ordered two, one for me and one for him. It's a custom made box, approved for use in the NHL.
It took awhile for the net cams to get here and as you can imagine I was super excited when they came in the mail. I had been waiting years for that moment. As luck would have it, the day the net cam's arrived, the University of Vermont men's hockey team was hosting Boston at "The Gut."
Since we had never set up a net cam, we headed to the rink about two hours before the game started to figure it out.
Here is Courtney setting up the cam in Vermont's goal.
We tethered the camera to my laptop to make sure that we had the right framing and focus.
Here it is set up in the goal when we were done.
For the camera I used a Nikon d300 and the 10.5mm lens with a pcoketwizard receiver. We taped everything down inside the box including the wires, the pocketwizard and the focus. After getting everything all set up, we took the net cams out of the goal for warm ups (can you say target practice if we left them in) and waited for the players to leave the ice. While the zambone's were doing their thing we went out on the ice and set up the net cams (one in each goal). I was controlling the camera in the Boston goal while Courtney had the one in Vermont's goal
I was pretty sure I had everything nailed down for installation but being the first attempt at a net camera, I was nervous for the start of the game. Once the game started I was focused on getting the action and excited to see what the net cam captured.
There was no shortage of action in the game. Plenty of goals and saves and I ended up getting a lot of nice photos from the net cam.
Here is the same play as above from my point of view.
Here is a diving play by Faust
And from my point of view
Here's where things get interesting. Boston was beating up on Vermont, scoring three goals in the first period alone. Along comes the second period and Boston once again seems to being scoring goals at will. About half way through the second period with BU's forth goal Vermont called a time out and replaced starting goalie Brody Hoffman with freshman back up Billy Faust.
With about three minutes on the clock, BU's Wesley Myron's wrister snuck past Faust on his right side and smashed into the net cam. I heard the sound of the puck hitting the lexan cover and hoped for the best. As I watched the referee pick up the pieces from inside the goal, I was hoping that the camera fared better than the cover.
Here is the moment of impact with the pieces of the front plate shattering. If you look closely you can see the puck on the left side of the goal behind one of the pieces.
BU players checking out Mr. Myron's handy work as the ref picks up the pieces of the shattered net cam cover.
Here's what's left of the cover that was recovered after the period.
It was along three minutes remaining the second period as I waited to retrieve the net cam. I couldn't see the front of the camera and I was worried about the possible damage and that the camera was exposed. BU scored again with 40 seconds left in the period luckily missing the camera this time.
The last goal of the second period with no protective cover on the net cam
Billy Faust retrieves the puck out of the goal
After the period was over, I went out to the net to survey the damage. Fortunately, the camera and lens made practically unscathed. The 10.5mm lens had a chip out of the lens hood but other than that everything was ok. I got lucky, the front cover is easy to replace.
I took the net cam out of the goal and got to work on meeting my deadline for the Burlington Free Press. I sent some of the net cam photos into the Free Press for my assignment and was pleasantly surprised that the photo at the beginning of the post was published.
We talked to the person that made the net cam's for us and he said that he has been shooting for the NHL for over fifteen years and has only had that happen once before... go figure! I guess I got that out of the way! Now for some more hockey.
Thanks to the ice crew at Gutterson for the help and to UVM for letting us put the net cams in.
Here is the full gallery from the game..
Boston vs. Vermont 11/16/12