Arch Ecker’s 1,000th Broadcast
First, let’s look at the numbers; 446 RoadRunners games (spanning Santa Fe and Topeka), 329 Butte Irish games, 214 Helena Bighorns games, 44 different teams, 36 arenas, eight head coaches, six Helena Ice Pirates games, five radio stations, three different leagues, and the number one. As in one broadcaster. The one and only voice of your Topeka RoadRunners, otherwise known as, Arch Ecker. This Saturday night, Arch plugs in his mic for the thousandth time to bring the game he loves to the people who love it.
“We couldn’t be more proud to have Arch Ecker on the air for us, year in and year out,” said RoadRunners Owner Don Stone. “One thousand broadcasts. An incredible milestone that couldn’t be reached without the passion, dedication, and perseverance that he exemplifies and that our team strives everyday to emulate.”
Arch’s first broadcast came on Nov. 4th, 1996, as the Helena Ice Pirates faced off against the Butte Irish. “My first ever broadcast at any level but this game turned out to be memorable for other reasons,” recalls Ecker. “With under five minutes to play and Butte leading comfortably 4-1, Helena enforcer Chris Shadow was being ejected from the game. As he passed Butte netminder Jon Walker, he took a two-handed whack at the goalies arm and both benches emptied into a free-for-all melee. The referees ultimately ejected everyone and declared the game over. This was my introduction to the world of junior hockey.”
A native of Los Angeles, Arch found himself in Butte, MT, assisting a friend in running a Dominoes Pizza franchise back in 1990. He eventually worked himself into radio, landing a morning show gig on 95.5 KMBR. Between his radio show and his classic rock band Venus Alley, Arch began broadcasting games for the Butte Irish followed by the Helena Bighorns and the Helena Ice Pirates until making the leap to New Mexico in 2006 to join the Santa Fe RoadRunners.
One year later, the RoadRunners moved to Topeka and Arch moved with them. And the RoadRunners first season was one for the books, leading all the way to the Robbie Cup Tournament. Arch remembers Game 5 of that season’s South Division Finals well. “The game was interrupted not once but twice by area power outages,” explained Ecker. “Topeka had trailed 3-1 but had battled back to take a 4-3 lead. Fairbanks tied the game at 4-4 with 3:03 left to play and the game went to sudden death overtime. At 13:07 of the first overtime period, Topeka’s Randy Swank buried a shot from the right point that sent the RoadRunners to their first ever Robertson Cup Tournament. It was an amazing culmination to an amazing journey for the RoadRunners and an electric evening that still ranks as the highlight of my 18-year hockey broadcasting career.”
Head Coach Scott Langer calls Arch Ecker “a great broadcaster and an even better friend. Someone who has been by my side and with this team through thick and thin for the last eight years. I am looking forward to the next thousand broadcasts.”
But even more impressive than his record and personal connections is the great amount of respect he’s earned around the league. “The NAHL congratulates Arch Ecker on his 1,000th game, which is a testament to his longevity in the business and ability to keep fans engaged during the broadcasts,” said NAHL Director of Communications and Marketing Alex Kyrias. “We are fortunate to have someone of his caliber and knowledge working in the NAHL.”
But a man like Arch isn’t satisfied with one milestone if there are others to be conquered. While this Saturday’s game marks his 1,000th broadcast overall, Arch’s 500th broadcast as play-by-play man for the RoadRunners franchise is set to air this postseason. Arch realizes though that none of these accomplishments could have come to pass without the amazing support he’s received over the years.
“I want to give a special thanks to the owners who have employed me,” said Arch. “Each of them along the way gave me the opportunity to live out a hockey fan’s dream. Also thanks to the coaches, their input, support, and friendship are truly valued. To the countless players and their families who have been an absolute pleasure to be associated with. To my parents for allowing me to grow up in skates and letting hockey be my life. Living a hockey life in SoCal presents a special set of challenges but they managed and I’m forever grateful. And lastly, heartfelt gratitude to the fans whose generous flow of support is treasured and held very close. Even fans of opposing teams have offered kind words of praise and support, and I’ve always found those most touching.”
In addition to celebrating Arch’s 1,000th broadcast this Saturday, the RoadRunners will also be giving away special Youth Jerseys to the first 1,000 kids through the doors. And as always, whenever the RoadRunners reach 5,000 or more in attendance, one lucky fan will walk away $5,000 richer thanks to Sharp Honda. For more information to the games this weekend, call 785-286-PUCK or visit the Expocentre Box Office.