June 20, 2018
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Old Town native Thorne ends play-by-play Frozen Four duties for ESPN

Heather Ainsworth | AP
Heather Ainsworth | AP
Gary Thorne
By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

Old Town native Gary Thorne said he can’t remember how many Frozen Fours he has broadcast on ESPN-TV.

It’s a lot.

But this past April’s Frozen Four, won by Boston College, was his last.

ESPN sports anchor John Buccigross will take over the play-by-play chores for college hockey’s final four next season when the event is held in Buccigross’ hometown of Pittsburgh.

“I’ve been discussing the redoing of the schedule of events I do for them,” said Thorne, who is currently serving as the TV play-by-play man for Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles.

“One of the problems is it’s tough to do the Frozen Four because the Orioles’ home opener is always on the same weekend. And I’m obligated to do the home opener.”

He said the play-by-play will in good hands with Buccigross who, according to a story in US College Hockey Online, asked ESPN to include the Frozen Four play-by-play gig in his new contract.

They concurred.

“When ESPN had the NHL, I worked with John. He did a lot of studio work during the games. He’s a great guy. He loves hockey. He will do well. He’s good and he cares,” Thorne said.

Thorne, the former radio voice of the University of Maine’s hockey team, said he will miss doing the Frozen Fours.

“It was great fun. Having done college hockey all those years, a lot of the coaches are still there. It’s like a homecoming at the Frozen Fours,” Thorne said. “I enjoy seeing old friends and the games are always great.”

Thorne is in Boston this week for Baltimore’s series with the Red Sox and he will be working with first-year color analyst, Winterport native and former University of Maine and major league shortstop Mike Bordick.

“He’s doing a great job,” Thorne said. “He cares, he works hard just like he did as a player. He’s been busting his butt to learn what it takes to do it. He really knows the game. Some guys who play the game don’t really know baseball even at this level.”

The Orioles have been one of the surprise teams, battling the Rays for first place.

“The Orioles aren’t as talented as the other teams in the [American League East]. But if they can keep hanging around, who knows, especially with the second wild card added this season.”

He said it was recently pointed out that, over the past 16 years, the team with the fifth best record in each league usually finishes with between 84-86 wins. The fifth place team would be the second wild card team in each league.

He said the Orioles could reach that total, especially if the injuries continue to mount up for other teams in the division.

The Red Sox have six outfielders on the disabled list including Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford and the Yankees have lost future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera for the season.

“I’ve never seen so many top-flight players go down in one season like this,” Thorne said.

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