In my ten years covering professional sports in the Phoenix area I had never shot NHL hockey before and was finally ready to give it a shot. As with everyone who has ever watched hockey on TV I went to the game in hopes of seeing big hits and some fights. Continue reading to see if I got what I wanted.

One of the big reasons I wanted to shoot a game was to set up a few overhead remotes. So i packed up the car with all the extra stuff I would need to do remotes. Magic arms, pocket wizards, camera plugs, gaff tape, safety cables (thanks Rick) and extra bodies for the remotes. 

In order to do remotes I needed to be to the arena 2 hours prior to the game. I left my house over three hours before the game for the 30 minute drive to the arena. As it turned out I should have left about three hours and 15 minutes early as I sat in traffic forever and missed the 2 hour prior window by 15 minutes. GRRR

For the game I spent the first period shooting from the concourse level which gave me a decent view of the ice. For player introductions and national anthem I tried working the spot light and dark arena for a few shots.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/320th

With my long lens body I shot the Minnesota Wild starters as they stood during the anthem.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 4000iso, f2.8, 1/160th

Then the lights came on and it was game time.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/3200th

One of the first things I noticed about shooting hockey that I liked was the reactions of the fans in the front row when players slammed into the glass inches away from them.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

In the below photo Phoenix Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov dives to block a shot on goal by Minnesota Wild center (51) James Sheppard in the first period.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

A few minutes later Minnesota Wild center (96) Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Phoenix Coyotes defenseman (3) Keith Yandle traded a few punches.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Nikon D3, 400mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Then other players from both teams started to get into it and things looked to be turning Jerry Springer right before my eyes. Till the referees came in and broke things up.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

As the game continued it seemed to be a pretty rough and physical game (I think). Below Phoenix Coyotes left wing (19) Shane Doan falls while going for the puck.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom took a hockey stick to his helmet, In the photo it sure looks like the stick made it inside his helmet but who knows.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

Another thing I noticed about shooting hockey is its really easy to get pictures of players colliding and falling all over the place. 

Phoenix Coyotes defenseman (3) Keith Yandle falls to the ice while battling Minnesota Wild linesman (18) Colton Gillies for the puck.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2000iso, f4.5, 1/1000th

Phoenix Coyotes defenseman (55) Ed Jovanovski fall to the ice while battling Minnesota Wild center (51) James Sheppard.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2000iso, f4.5, 1/1000th

For the second period I went down to shoot from ice level. The one problem with the arena here is there are no photo holes cut into the glass so its very tough to get good shots unless you have the camera pressed up against the glass and aimed straight ahead. Any other angle other than straight through and images aren’t sharp.

Phoenix Coyotes left wing (13) Daniel Carcillo takes a shot on goal in the second period.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th

I was lucky enough to have a pretty big hit happen in front of my spot as Minnesota Wild defenseman (3) Marek Zidlicky was checked into the boards by Phoenix Coyotes left wing (17) Todd Fedoruk.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1250th

As players would come from the other side of the ice towards my direction I noticed nice reflections as the players approached. I was hoping for a giant hit or something cool where I could really take advantage of the reflection, unfortunately all I was able to get was Phoenix Coyotes center (28) Steven Reinprecht battling a Minnesota defender for the puck.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th

After being down on ice level for a few minutes I found out the worst thing about shooting through glass as a player slid to a stop right in front of me and covered the glass with ice. For the rest of the period I had to find a different spot to shoot from. Heres what I’m talking about.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, 2500iso, f2.8, 1/1000th

It was a scoreless game until Phoenix Coyotes defenseman (4) Zbynek Michalek scored a goal (that I missed). At least I got a few shots of the celebration.

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th

Nikon D3, 80-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th

It was pretty cool seeing one of the greatest hockey players ever Wayne Gretzky, the Phoenix Coyotes head coach, hanging out on the bench with his players.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2000iso, f4, 1/800th

After transmitting some photos in the media room I headed back up to the concourse level for the third period.

A few minutes after the period started Phoenix Coyotes right wing (18) Enver Lisin scored a goal.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2000iso, f4, 1/1000th

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2000iso, f4, 1/1000th

The capacity crowd went wild!

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2000iso, f4, 1/200th

In the closing minutes of the game I got my favorite shot of the game as Phoenix Coyotes defenseman (55) Ed Jovanovski collided with Minnesota Wild left wing (67) Benoit Pouliot.

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2000iso, f4, 1/1000th

Nikon D3, 400mm, 2000iso, f4, 1/1000th

The game ended with the Coyotes taking the win as the players celebrates with each other.


Nikon D3, 400mm, 2000iso, f4, 1/1000th

I celebrated as well since the game was over and I could get the hell outta there.

Will I shoot hockey again? Yes when they cut photo holes in the glass and I can get there early enough to set up some remotes.

Otherwise NO!



Posted in Hockey, NHL, Sports   | 7 Comments

7 responses to “Hockey in Phoenix….Big Hits, Small Crowds”

  1. Scott says:

    Good set. I’m really surprised that there are no photo holes at Jobing.com arena. I thought that was pretty standard stuff. If you decide to shoot again, try it from the “suicide box” between the benches. You’re parked on the red line and have great access/angles for players/coaches/face-offs, etc.

  2. Brett Socia says:

    Nice work for shooting your first NHL game. As for the holes in the glass for shooting. It is my understanding that most rinks have them, and that there are only a few that don’t. I guess no one told them that when they put the glass up in Phoenix.

  3. Caleb Williams says:

    Mark, just come up to Minnesota and see the Wild play on home. Then you’ll see an actual capacity crowd.

  4. Joshua says:

    Interesting that they didn’t have holes in the glass. Most arenas in the league have holes. Even the non-professional rink here in sunny Jacksonville, FL has holes in the glass! Phoenix needs to get on that fast!

  5. Alex Surrey says:

    Mark I cover the LA Kings for a small website. But in LA we have the same problem low capacity crowds. Last season was my first season I was 16, and I didn’t what time to be there and all that jazz and I would get stuck with the end glass past video guys, and shooting through the glass at first it sucked but learned to deal with it. This season I am on my game, getting early to get a hole, but in LA they weren’t thinking when in the 108 corner they have stars that go down to pit right under the hole so you got to have one leg on first step and and one on ground and you have to hunch over just to shoot, it is quite a workout. Anyways some nice shots in there, considering first NHL game and like no crowd, I am a Toronto boy and used to seeing a lot of fans who care about the game , but LA is a different story in Hockey world.



  6. Pete Tiley says:

    Spooky, check this out. Covered my first Ice Hockey last week too. Never again if I can help it.


  7. Lolita says:

    Can you please tell me what kind of light were used for these photos? I see you used pocket wizards- but curious about the light numbers/ kinds.
    Thank you;-)

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