Video by Madeline Raineri
MADELINE RAINERI | Reporter
Announcer Bob Carroll has been energizing crowds at the Wentzville ice arena for decades with his signature catchphrase: “It’s go time, baby!”
He’s uttered those words before every Lindenwood University men’s ice hockey home game and, until this season, every women’s home game since the beginning of both programs.
Carroll, 71, is easy to spot at the rink even when he isn’t in the announcer’s booth. He’s usually dressed in a colored blazer with matching tie and handkerchief. Between periods, he often nurses a coffee from the rink’s snack bar and mingles with the fans.
Although Carroll has become an integral part of Lindenwood’s hockey teams, he never played the game himself, aside from the occasional street hockey match as a child. He never studied broadcast either.
He said he got his start while his son played youth hockey. Someone suggested he announce the goals, and Carroll took the challenge head on, saying “Sure, bring it out, I’ll make a fool of myself.”
Before Carroll knew it, he said various hockey clubs across St. Louis were asking him to announce their games, and that was nearly 26 years ago.
Carroll’s son went on to play roller hockey at Lindenwood, and Carroll brought his announcing prowess to the roller rink. At the end of his son’s first season, the roller hockey team won the national championship, and the school offered Carroll a championship ring.
“It really set the hook,” he said.
Lindenwood began its men’s ice hockey program during the 2003-2004 season, and the women’s program followed the year after. Carroll was a constant on the mic for both teams until this season, when his wife became ill, and he decided to announce only the men’s games.
The team does what it can to keep Carroll in the announcer’s booth, including putting him up in a hotel each home game weekend so he doesn’t have to drive back and forth between the rink and his home in Jefferson County.
One of Carroll’s most vivid memories is of women’s player Mandy Dion, who stood 6-foot-2 on the ice and hailed from Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. During the first season, Carroll said she played bashfully, as if she was ashamed of her height, so Carroll spoke with the coach, then the player, to get her approval to give her a nickname.
Carroll said the first night he called her up as the “Medicine Hat Mauler,” she skated up to the blue line with a menacing grin, and he said the look in the other team’s eyes was unforgettable.
“After the game she came up to me and said, ‘Mr. Carroll, say that every time!’” Carroll said.
From there on out, he said he watched her entire attitude change on the ice as she became one of the most physical players on the team and had a record season of 42 goals.
Another fond memory of Carroll’s was calling the game when the women’s team won its first national championship at the Wentzville Ice Arena in 2006. Carroll said the Canadian players had placed a toonie, a $2 coin, in the ice down at the lion’s head at the beginning of the season.
Whenever he calls the name of someone from Finland or Sweden, he says their name and then says ‘my man from Fin-land,’ or ‘my man from Swe-den,’ accentuating the last part of the word
“They said, ‘We’re not taking it out until we win the national championship,’ and that night they got the blowtorch out and skated the coin around,” he said.
Carroll’s impact has even reached fans like Alexis Thurston, a student at Lindenwood who grew up in the Wentzville area and has watched Lindenwood’s games since she was a kid. She said she loves the creativity Carroll brings to the game, especially when he calls the starting lineup.
“Whenever he calls the name of someone from Finland or Sweden, he says their name and then says ‘my man from Fin-land,’ or ‘my man from Swe-den,’ accentuating the last part of the word,” Thurston said.
Carroll’s creativity doesn’t just end there. Once, Lindenwood was facing an Illinois team, and the school’s student publication wrote an article calling Lindenwood “a bunch of clowns.”
After Lindenwood won, Carroll recited a poem from the announcer’s booth for the other team that had a memorable last line.
“‘And as you pass through cities and towns, remember that you got beat by a bunch of clowns,’ and the coach’s face got beet-red with anger afterward,” Carroll said.
Lindenwood communications major Patrick Kelly, who assists in broadcasting the hockey games for Lindenwood’s radio and TV stations, said Carroll’s example encourages him to be more than an announcer.
“He inspires me to be a better person,” Kelly said. “He treats everybody great. I remember one of the first times I went to Lindenwood, he immediately came up, introduced himself and talked to me and made sure I felt comfortable.”
Carroll’s influence also affects the players. Sophomore forward Jordan Klimovsky said the music Carroll plays helps to rev the team up for the competition.
“We give him suggestions, and his comments get us going and in a good mood before the puck drops,” he said.
Carroll shrugs off all the compliments about his impact on Lindenwood’s hockey program, and said his “go time” won’t be anytime soon.
He said he plans to keep announcing games “until they cart me out of here.”