The Stockton Thunder, a two-time recipient of the ECHL “Award of Excellence,” announced today that play-by-play announcer Mike Benton has accepted an offer to become the new television and radio play-by-play announcer and director of media relations for the Alaska Aces of the ECHL.
“It was truly a pleasure working with Mike,” said Thunder owner and chairman Brad Rowbotham. “His dream has always been to continue development of his skill set which includes numerous broadcast roles. I wish him well with this new opportunity.”
“While I’m sad to see Mike leave the Thunder organization, I am also excited about what this opportunity represents,” said Thunder president Brian Sandy. “The ECHL is a developmental league, both on and off the ice, and Mike is taking the next step in his career. In Anchorage, he’ll have the opportunity to expand his skill set to a comprehensive television role. We are proud of Mike for his accomplishments and wish him nothing but the best.”
Benton, 32, who had served the organization since its inception, called 648 regular season and playoff games for the Thunder, spanning its first ECHL game at Fresno in 2005 to its first run to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2013.
He was selected by the ECHL to call the league’s All-Star Game radio broadcasts in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and earned the ECHL Media Relations Award of Excellence in 2009 as determined in voting by members of the media, league media relations directors and broadcasters.
“I want to thank Brad Rowbotham, Brian Sandy, Dan Chapman, Michael Reinsdorf, and the entire Thunder community for eight terrific seasons,” said Benton. “Extremely mixed emotions are at the forefront of this new opportunistic season of life because this area and each game night at Stockton Arena will always have a special place in my heart. It was a pleasure to help start a wonderful experience called ‘Thunder hockey’ back in 2005. Calling team milestones, meeting my wife, getting married, and making so many valued friends are a few of many reasons why my experience here will always be looked back on with a fond memory.”
Beyond the broadcast booth and his media relations duties, Benton served in numerous capacities including online video content, corporate sales, website management, social media and ticket sales during his time with the Thunder, who as an organization earned the ECHL “Award of Excellence” in 2007 and 2009.
His work also included color commentary and rinkside reporting roles at the Vancouver Canucks YoungStars Tournaments in 2010 and 2011 and contributing roles with the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks websites.
Benton was additionally active in the Central Valley sports broadcasting community as the primary radio play-by-play announcer for the Stockton Lightning of the arenafootball2 league and an anchor/host on AM 970 ESPN Radio from 2006-09. He previously provided play-by-play call in minor league baseball for the Dayton Dragons and High Desert Mavericks and in women’s college basketball for the University of California-Riverside from 2004-05.
The Thunder will begin a search for Benton’s replacement immediately. Further broadcast details are expected to be announced in September.
The proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Islanders of the NHL, the Thunder led the ECHL in attendance for four consecutive seasons and drew over 200,000 fans for the eighth consecutive season in 2012-13.
Read more at Stockton Thunder where this story was originally published.