Nitpicking At My Former Texas Hockey Beat

Posted in Hockey, Sports Journalism at 1:56 am by

The Texas Stars got off to a remarkable start in the Calder Cup final, winning two games on the road against defending champion Hershey for a 2-0 series lead.

Unfortunately, they’ve now done something equally remarkable by dropping three straight home games (even at the highest level of the minors, teams cannot afford to play a 2-2-1-1-1 series).

The Austin American-Statesman‘s Avery Holton writes:

Hershey holds a 3-2 series lead and is a win away from becoming just the third team in league history to rebound from an 0-2 deficit in the title round….

And Texas knows a thing or two about coming up big on the road. They’ve closed out each of three postseason series away from home, including a 4-2 victory at Hamilton in Game 7 of the conference finals.

They now have to go a step further and win two on the road to claim the first professional hockey title of any kind in the history of the Austin area. The now-defunct Austin Ice Bats never reached the summit of the Western Professional Hockey League or the East Coast Hockey League, but the Central Texas Stampede did nab the WPHL crown for Belton in 2000.

Now, my first reaction when I read that, is it’s tenuous for Austin’s newspaper to even bring up the Stampede. I’m sure the Williamson County-based Stars do draw fans from the Belton/Killeen/Temple area (some of whom I’m certain I know personally), but hey, let the Temple Daily Telegram worry about that.

Then I realized that the sentence had a bigger problem: the Shreveport Mudbugs beat the Stampede for the 2000 WPHL crown. The Stampede merely won the Governor’s Cup for best regular season record – as did the Ice Bats in 2003.

And what’s up with the reference to the East Coast Hockey League? It’s certainly true the Ice Bats never reached the ECHL summit, since they were never a member of that circuit (presumably he meant the Central Hockey League, which still has five teams in Texas).

Now, I know mistakes get made on deadline all the time, especially with an OT game. I’ve made them myself (and not just writing about hockey). It’s just that they get printed that much more when it’s an oft-neglected beat. If I accidentally confused Kris Brown with Phil Dawson in an article about Texas football, there’d be half a dozen editors (maybe even Texas Exes) there to bail me out. But with hockey, the fact that no one knows can sometimes feel like no one cares.

And at this point in sports media, it’s basically a self-fulfilling prophecy. Playoff final sell-outs and the sudden appearance of Cedric Golden aside, there still aren’t enough Austin hockey fans reading the newspaper to justify a full-time beat writer (and yes, I certainly wish such a job existed so I could have said job), but now there never will be, ’cause they’ll stick to blogs and message boards and Twitter.

3 Responses to “Nitpicking At My Former Texas Hockey Beat”

  1. Avery Holton says:

    Ouch, Jason. Kidding aside, you nailed the mistake and I’m working to get it amended online. Thanks for picking up on it.

    Man, I like to think we did a nice job with the hockey beat this year. The Austin market has some great sports. While the economics of the industry don’t always allow for equal coverage, the freelancers in Austin do a great job, in my opinion. That said, interactive coverage like you alluded to is a must for the industry. I for one am glad to have resources such as the ones you and other provide online. They keep the industry in check and help get errors fixed (or at least noted).

    Thanks again, and hope you’re doing well.


  2. Jason Cohen says:

    Well don’t it figure: Greg Rajan in Corpus Christi notes that my memory’s off as well – New Mexico was the 2000 finalist which lost to Shreveport. They actually beat the Bats to get there. I believe the Stampede played in the final of the ’98-’99 season.

    Nothing personal Avery, not even towards the Statesman – just seems like a battle for hockey at all levels really, but given the economics of the industry and the changes in technology, the battle’s almost over. And yeah, it’s nice to see the Stars get more coverage (and while Bats loyalists never felt this way, of course a higher level team *deserves* more coverage).

  3. Avery Holton says:

    No way did I take it personally, man. I always appreciate honest corrections, even the brutal ones.

    Man, you said it, though. Minor league hockey, unfortunately for its great fans, can be tough to cover because of limited access to information. Hell, a lot of great stats never even get recorded at some lower levels.

    That said, media following hockey seems to be ramping up coverage … Hopefully that will lead to more extensive (and correct) information.

    Man, I knew a while back that you’d been working on a book, but I had no idea you got it out there. Many belated congrats on that. I’m putting it on my reading list, right behind another Vonnegut book.

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