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Hockey fans fight serious lag to play NHL ’94 on a stadium scoreboard

A strange substitute for the NHL’s postponed Stadium Series

a hand holds a Sega Genesis gamepad with a large stadium video board far in the distance Photo: NoahILM via Twitter
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

What’s the input lag when you’re playing NHL ’94 for the Sega Genesis on a super-sized stadium video board? About half a freaking second, actually. That partially accounts for sports talker Joe Ovies, of WRAL-FM in Raleigh, North Carolina, scoring only one goal in his game on Carter-Finley Stadium’s Daktronics super-screen.

Ovies and broadcast partner Joe Giglio (disclosure: I went to college with both of those yo-yos), faced with the postponement of the Carolina Hurricanes’ 2021 Stadium Series game to next year, staged an outdoor contest last Friday with a couple of listeners joining the fun. Because professional hockey outside, in the South, is always a smart idea.

It was plenty cold enough to keep the sun from melting their playing surface (as had been the case out in Lake Tahoe). But Ovies says he “did melt the AV guy’s brain with the Raspberry Pi,” trying to run the 16-bit sports classic on a Daktronics super-screen.

Ovies and listeners Noah Thomas and Jon Weaver played four games, the first two on a monitor on the field, and then two for laughs on the big screen with the chonky lag. Thomas defeated Weaver to meet Ovies in the final, where Ovies scored six goals with Montreal’s Kirk Muller to rudely dismiss his guest 6-4.

Ovies wasn’t so prolific on the stadium scoreboard. “Trying to time a one-timer with the input lag was … difficult,” he told me. Still a fun time was had by all. Thomas posted about it on Reddit, to several hundred upvotes from fellow Canes fans:

The Carolina Hurricanes had been scheduled to host the 2021 Stadium Series game on Feb. 20. But the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the previous season, and delayed the start of the current one to Jan. 13, so the Hurricanes will host the game next year on N.C. State’s football turf.

This year, NHL ‘94 resurfaced, sort of, as NHL ’94 Rewind, a downloadable premium for NHL 21 pre-orders. It’s basically an NHL ’94 ROM with up-to-date rosters, teams, logos, and uniforms.

Ovies has made classic sports video games something of a cause over the past several years at WRAL. In 2017, he dragged an NES and a Sony Trinitron to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s football media day, and got the head coaches for State, Duke, and North Carolina to break down Tecmo Super Bowl’s rather authentic playbook.

And in 2018, Ovies sat down with Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (and Pitt’s Jeff Capel, who played for Krzyzewski) to play and discuss EA Sports’ short-lived Coach K College Basketball on Sega Genesis.

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