The St. Cloud State University Men’s Hockey team is competing in the 2021 NCAA Division I Frozen Four, and capturing it all is six student journalists from St. Cloud State University.
St. Cloud State students are covering the Frozen Four between KVSC, the student radio station, and Husky Productions, the sports reporting arm of the student TV station UTVS.
Sam Goetzinger, Nik Speliopoulos, Rachel Herzog and Joey Erickson have been covering the team all season for Husky Productions, while Drew Steele and Blake Theisen have been traveling to cover the team — often broadcasting live from the arena.
“It’s been a blast covering the team this season,” Steele said. “The team’s journey has been nothing but up to this point. I’ve been waiting for three years to get my shot at an on-air spot for KVSC, and I finally got that this season.”
Getting to Pittsburgh
He and Theisen booked their tickets to Pittsburgh as they left the arena in Albany. Steele has been a Men’s Hockey fan since he was a kid going to games with his parents. He’s also been interested in broadcasting since his younger years when he served as the Minnesota reporter for FOX Sports’ “Kid Pitch” show.
“As a fan I would be excited, but to get to call the games in the NHL arena and hopefully see my childhood favorite team win a title will be insane,” he said.
Speliopoulos has been the ice side reporter all year for Husky Productions.
“Being in an empty arena was a unique feeling,” he said. “I missed the energy and the passion that Huskies fans bring to every game. At the end of the day, I was glad that we still had games to cover even though they were reduced in number. I tried to make the most of what we were given.”
Speliopoulos has been covering Men’s Hockey since 2017 and was there when the team competed in the NCAA tournament in Sioux Falls in 2018 and Fargo in 2019.
“Now the Huskies are at the Frozen Four, and to cover this team is a privilege,” he said. “For broadcasters, this is what we live for. Not only do we want to see our team win a championship, but also providing coverage deep in the playoffs is very special.”
The Husky Productions crew chose to make the 13 hour drive with Goetzinger and Erickson looking forward to singing the whole way.
Early connections to broadcasting
Goetzinger, who also does reporting for KVSC and the University Chronicle, has also been interested in broadcasting since he was a child and his dad worked in the radio industry and Goetzinger hosted a Polka show at the age of 9 on Sundays in Owatonna. He continued broadcasting throughout his childhood and started calling high school sports broadcasts as a teenager.
“I am a big Husky Hockey fan,” he said. “Over the past couple of years, I have been able to develop some great relationships with both players and staff on the men’s and women’s programs. It is a very fun experience to be able to cover not just the athletes doing what they love, but to be able to call them friends makes it so much better.”
A team effort
Covering the Frozen Four is truly a team effort, and all the student reporters need to balance their classwork and job responsibilities. And it takes a lot of communication, Speliopoulos said.
“Since the week leading up to the Frozen Faceoff in Grand Forks, I have been part of countless Zoom meetings, filming and editing sessions, and answering many phone calls,” he said. “It doesn’t just magically come together. The communication level within this group is phenomenal.”
Behind the scenes, St. Cloud State staff members Derrick Silvestri and Brian Stanley work with students to help them hone their skills, so that they can have the professional-level skills needed to put together a quality production that draws viewership from Fox9+ and formerly Fox Sports North, he said.
“No matter what happens, I am going to try my absolute hardest to soak in every moment and cherish these memories that will last a lifetime,” Speliopoulos said.
COVID-19 has required both the players and the journalists to adapt to continue providing high quality content, Goetzinger said.
All three student media organizations have done a stand-up job rolling with the punches as they covered the team all year, Goetzinger said.
“Being able to go to an event like this at the national scale is a cherry on top of everything the SCSU Mass Communications Department has to offer,” he said. “I can safely say that all of us who cover sports here in our student organizations want to do it professionally at the highest level possible after we graduate from the university and this experience allows us to get a good taste of what it will be like in the future.”