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Komets at Las Vegas
Face-off: 10 p.m. Friday
Radio: WOWO, 1190-AM
TV: MyTV, Comcast Ch. 18, Frontier Ch. 9
When he takes the air to call his first Komets game on WOWO at about 9:45 p.m. Friday, Shane Albahrani already knows what will be racing through his mind.
"Wow, this is really going to happen, but it's not going to hit me until I have the microphone on and I hear the intro,'' he said. "Then it's going to hit me. `How did I get here? What am I doing?''
He'll be living his dream as the Komets start the first of three games in Las Vegas.
Albahrani, 39, has been selected by the Komets to fill in on the selected road broadcasts that regular announcer Bob Chase, 87, misses this year. That's intimidating, but Albahrani has been preparing for this since age 9 when he called a 1983 New York Islanders-Edmonton Oilers game off the TV into a hand-held tape recorder.
Though Komets fans may not be aware of Albahrani, he has plenty of experience calling hockey games and watching the Komets. He's attended almost every Komets home game since 1983, he's called almost 600 high school, college and pro games in the Fort Wayne market and he's been the team's video camera operator for 16 seasons. Last year he also called play-by-play on four games on the Komets' Xfinity package and sat in with Chase to provide color commentary on a game in Kalamazoo.
"Bob has been encouraging,'' Albahrani said. "I wanted to do that game last year with him for selfish reasons, to say I did a game with Bob Chase, but I really just wanted to shadow him. Getting to do color was a bonus.''
The production and creative director of Ad Lab Advertising for three years, Albahrani started calling hockey games for real at 17. Mike Stuckey from the Fort Wayne High School Hockey Association needed a new broadcaster for the public access Game of the Week, and Northrop journalism teacher Wendy Kruger suggested Albahrani. He called the games from 1991 to 2000, including those of a North Side defenseman named Gary Graham.
He started working at WFFT in 1996 where he was the promotions director, part-time on-air staff and director of "Happy's Place." He also worked for Major League Baseball, monitoring MLB and minor league games to compile highlight packages.
"I learned a lot from doing that because I listened to 10, 12 games a night from all over the country,'' he said. "That was a good time.''
In 2005 he returned to calling games, this time DeKalb County high school sports on WFGA.
"I hadn't called a game for five years, and Tony Richards, who I had played baseball with, said, 'Hey, I'm starting a new station. Do you want to come up and do play by play?' ''
Albahrani, also a DJ on WFWI from 1994 to 1996, has called games on almost every local station in the market except WOWO. His goal has always been to call a Komets game if Chase ever needed backup.
"I came to the realization that players come and go, but the announcers stay the same,'' Albahrani said. "He's the guy who holds the fans to the team year in and year out, and that's what Bob does. I've actually had opportunities in other markets, but it's like why would I go anywhere else when I already lived in the best minor league hockey market?
"Hockey was always the sport I wanted to do, even though I do basketball and football. It was always really the goal to do Komets games. I think sportscasters when they start out want to do major college or the NFL and I never really had that desire. It was this.''
His only regret will be that his sister Stephanie won't be able to listen in. She introduced him to the Komets in 1983 but died four years ago from a blood disorder.
"She would be happier than I would be,'' he said. "Without her, I probably wouldn't have gone to my first Komets games. This has been a culmination of all those games.''