Lange credits Manor boy with 'Make me a milkshake, Malkin' goal call
With a reputation for some of the wildest goal calls in hockey broadcasting, Mike Lange of the Penguins Radio Network is picky about which new phrases he adds to his repertoire.
Not just any utterance enters a rotation of about 40 goal calls, which are highlighted by longtime fan favorites such as “Call Arnold Slick from Turtle Creek,” “Scratch My Back with a Hacksaw” and “He's Smiling Like a Butcher's Dog.”
But for nearly four years, Lange has used a phrase he credits to Trafford Middle School student Dylan Cleland: “Make Me a Milkshake, Malkin.”
Not only is the call popular because of the regularity of Evgeni Malkin's goals — the Penguins center had 50 last season en route to becoming the NHL regular season MVP — but fans can download the saying as a ringtone, and it inspired an Allegheny County ice cream shop to sell a “Malkin Milkshake.”
And it didn't take much for the phrase to join the crème de la crème.
After Dylan interviewed the Hall-of-Fame play-by-play announcer through the Trib Total Media Junior Reporter contest in spring 2009, Lange said he asked the aspiring broadcaster if he had any phrases he could use.
Without hesitation, Dylan blurted the alliterative expression, which Lange said caught him by surprise and made him laugh.
“Sometimes, it just clicks in your head that you can feel that it has the right ingredients,” said Lange, who has been calling Penguins games since 1974. “It just had everything going because it was short enough and had the right emphasis, and, for me, it was just crazy enough to work.”
Dylan and his family still are cow-kicked that Lange uses it. When they watch Malkin score a goal on television, they rush to a radio to check if Lange says it.
“It's unforgettable,” said Dylan, 14, of Manor. “Every time you hear it, you think about the time you met him and told him about it, and of course, there's the enjoyment of seeing Malkin score. It's nice to hear it continuously.”
Dylan and Lange have had a connection for about five years, starting when Dylan portrayed Lange for a third-grade wax museum project at Sunrise Estates Elementary School. Dylan's teacher at the time, Dave Spudy, facilitated Dylan's interview of Lange through email.
Even now, Lange says he periodically emails Dylan to encourage him to do well in school and support his broadcasting interests.
Dylan said he isn't quite sure how he thought of phrase, which he said he created a few months before meeting Lange in person. He said it's possible he had a milkshake before watching a game.
It's taken on a life of its own in the region. Longtime season-ticket holder Joel DeBaldo, who owns Ice Cream World in Indiana Township, took a young customer's suggestion to create a Malkin Milkshake.
The concoction includes vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and black and yellow sprinkles.
“It'll do real well when we start playing again,” DeBaldo said. “We'll have it mainly for playoffs. You don't want to spoil it for people by doing it year-round.”
Likewise, Lange doesn't try out just any phrase. He frequently gets unsolicited suggestions when he's out in public.
The spontaneous sayings go back to his time calling minor-league hockey games in Phoenix and San Diego in the early 1970s. “Great Balls of Fire” and “Look Out, Loretta” were among the first.
“I don't add too many because it just kind of takes away from it, but when I do they're usually pretty special,” Lange said.
“I tell them to write it down. I'll take it under consideration. It's all genuine and it gets them actually involved. It definitely is something that's worthwhile to do, and, certainly, I can't think of all of them.”
Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8671 or firstname.lastname@example.org.