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Doing hockey for the first time. Advice?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by forever_town, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    Hopefully, this won't sound as bad as the subject line appears. Hopefully...

    I'm getting ready to cover a high school hockey game for the first time. Of the so-called "big four," hockey is the only sport for which I've never covered a game. I cut my teeth covering basketball even though I was at best a casual fan of the sport. I did my first decent gamers for baseball, and I finally covered American football (the sport I'm most passionate about) this past year.

    However, I've never tried to cover a hockey game. I think I have an okay idea of the terminology. I know about forechecking, minor penalties, major penalties, misconducts and whatnot. I can understand stats such as penalty minutes, shots and saves. I've watched hockey in the past (before the Crapitals traded Peter Bondra away).

    Any advice for a hockey writing newb?
     
  2. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    If you avoid "lingo" you'll be fine... If you can cover soccer, you can cover hockey (for a game at least...)
     
  3. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    Yeah, I didn't mention it in this thread, but I've covered soccer.

    I was a beat writer covering D.C. United back in 1999 (one of their MLS Cup-winning years) and I covered a college men's soccer team this past season after filling in for a conference tournament game the previous year. So yeah, I should have mentioned that I can cover soccer.
     
  4. I didn't know much about the sport when I covered my first high school hockey game. I am a casual fan at best, but knew nothing about strategy. I think the best things to do in these situations is to go with the featurey gamer, as I like to call them. What kind of impact does this game have on standings, postseason berths, etc.? It's getting late in the season, I assume.

    Keep an eye out for any trends. A goalie is getting beat on his weak side. Is that something the team knew going in? As for the goalie, is it something he's been working on with coaches? How is he working on that and has there been improvement. Podunk High is great at killing power plays. Why is that? What is the coach's strategy? You see where I'm going with this.

    If this is a game with playoff implications or first place in the division, then there is your story. If it's between two cellar dwellers, then there is a story too. What happened to these teams over the course of the season? Injuries? Underclassmen? Work this stuff around some important game details and you should be fine. And if you have questions about anything, ask one of the coaches to explain it to you. Just find the most intriguing part of the game and write about that. Same as you would for anything else.

    The first time I covered a cross country meet, I panicked. Never covered one before, but I managed, found a feature, trend, worked in the meet details, etc., and covered the big meets for the rest of the season. I came to enjoy it.
     
  5. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    Don't ever rely on the score. Seriously. Maybe not in high school hockey so much because we routinely get 8-0 games down here, but games can be 1-0. That leaves you with what, three inches?

    Of course, f_t, you'll know this as a former soccer writer. Others might not. But like Prince said, keep watching the game for the strategy and the general patterns. It's essentially soccer on ice.

    Oh, and watch out for the power plays. Stuff always happens when one team is down a man.
     
  6. Mira

    Mira Member

    Don't refer to the puck as a biscuit. We had a stringer do that in a college game last week, and I kept thinking, were they homemade or out of a can? Everything always revolves around food.
     
  7. TwoGloves

    TwoGloves Active Member

    Not trying to be a smart ass here but remember they play periods, not quarters. We had a guy who had never covered hockey refer to the second quarter a couple years ago. Stay away from play by play. Try to find a feature type angle. Good power play by one team? Good penalty killing? Lot of hacking and whacking? One guy stand out? Stuff like that. Hockey is a lot easier to write than most people think. But play by play from a hockey game might be the most boring play by play of any gamer.
     
  8. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Hi. Jim Carr again.

    Denis, I know that some in our audience don't know the finer points of hockey. Could you tell them, for example, what is icing?

    Well, icing happen when the puck come down, bang, you know, before the other guys, nobody there, you know. My arm go comes out, then the game stop then start up.

    I see. What is high-sticking?

    High-sticking happen when the guy take the stick, you know, and he go like that.

    You don't do that. Oh, no. Never, never.

    - Why not? - Against the rules.

    You stupid when you do that, some English pig with no brains...

    Denis, what is slashing?

    Slashing is like that, you know?

    Mm-hm. And there's a penalty for that?

    - Yeah. And for trip also, you know. - Oh?

    Like that. And for hook like this.

    - And for spear, you know, like that. - Mm-hm.

    All bad. You do that, you go to the box, you know. Two minutes by yourself, and you feel shame, you know.

    - Mm-hm. - And then you get free.

    The Chiefs are at home against Hyannisport at the War Memorial at eight.
    Good seats are still available.
     
  9. hockeybeat

    hockeybeat Guest

    Awesome, my man.
     
  10. ondeadline

    ondeadline Active Member

    I've read stuff from hockey writers who feel the need to go into great detail about each goal. If a goal is particularly spectacular or if it's the only goal, that's one thing. But I don't really need to know whether each goal was glove-side high or pad side, etc. Conveying the flow of the game is a lot more interesting, but a better angle is to turn the gamer into a feature on the top star of the game. The best hockey gamers I've read off of games I attended as a fan were the ones that told me something I didn't know about why the game went the way it did or tell me more about the key players.
     
  11. TwoGloves

    TwoGloves Active Member

    Or weird goals that go off some guy's butt or skate or something like that. Not everybody in the building can see whose skate or body it went off. I had one a couple weeks ago where a shot from the left faceoff circle went off a defenseman's body, the puck hit high on the glass behind the net, bounced back out, hit the goalie in the back and went in. For the game-winning goal.
     
  12. huntsie

    huntsie Active Member

    Keep it simple. If one player dominates the scoring (two goals say, or the game winning goal), talk to him and build the story around him.
    Ask him to describe the goal, for starters.
    Then you can spin into how his season is going, how the team is doing. Was it a particularly big win for the team? Would he consider it an upset?
    No need to get bogged down with too much description of the play. If you don't know what you're talking about, it will be obvious to your audience pretty quickly.
    If the goalie gets a shutout (doesn't allow any goals), that's relatively uncommon.
    You could talk to him about the flow of the game. Did he have any particularly difficult saves? When I'm covering a sport I'm relatively unfamiliar with, I ask the experts and let them do the talking.
     
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