Dedication, deadlines shape Brad Schlossman's coverage of 500-straight UND hockey games for the Grand Forks Herald
Herald beat writer started his streak of consecutive UND hockey games Nov. 6, 2009, in Houghton, Mich.
On Thursday morning, Grand Forks Herald hockey writer Brad Schlossman boarded the UND hockey charter flight to Hartford, Conn.
That’s not unusual for a sports writer who spends hundreds of hours on the road each season.
The only difference in this trip was the destination; his landing in Connecticut for this weekend’s series against Quinnipiac marked the 21st state in which Schlossman will have covered a UND hockey game for the Herald.
On Saturday night, he’ll wrap up covering UND’s series at Quinnipiac before preparing for next week’s trip to Nashville, where the Fighting Hawks will meet Penn State in a highly anticipated destination game for the program.
Life on the road certainly isn’t unusual for a sports writer.
What is unusual -- remarkable, actually -- is the number of consecutive UND hockey games Schlossman has covered in his tenure as the UND hockey beat writer.
Last Friday against Bemidji State, Schlossman logged his 500th consecutive UND hockey game. It would be hard to find any beat writer -- pro, college or high school -- that has been more dedicated to his or her craft than Schlossman.
Here’s what coverage of 500 straight UND hockey games entails:
Unforgiving deadlines. At the Herald, there aren't many things harder than hitting an 11:30 p.m. deadline when a game starts in the Mountain Time Zone or later. Perhaps the only prayer offered by Herald sport writers on game night centers on the functionality of one’s laptop computer. Schlossman also is 500-for-500 in meeting those deadlines.
Travel. Lots of it. In 2010, Schlossman covered two October UND games in Alaska. The next weekend, he was in Bemidji for hockey. The weekend after that? Two games at Maine. The distance between Anchorage and Orono is 4,873 miles.
Not-so-healthy eating habits. In my 40-plus years of covering sports -- many of those years spent on the road -- I’ve probably consumed a lethal dose of late-night pizza, hot dogs, chips and soda. Schlossman, however, has escaped that trap and in recent years is at the top of the charts when it comes to healthy eating. The downside of the diet change is that Deek’s Pizza and Skyline Chili lost a valued customer.
A dogged work ethic. Covering 500 straight hockey games takes more than just showing up, watching the game and filing a story. It also takes hundreds of hours of behind-the-scenes work -- developing sources, earning trust from those sources and cultivating interesting features that do not happen by simply watching the game.
Finally: Commitment. It takes a committed journalist to accomplish what Schlossman has achieved since taking over the UND hockey beat. Covering 500 straight games -- mostly on the weekends -- means that the beat writer is giving up a wealth of personal and family time.
In my run of covering UND football, the Herald covered all but two games -- home and away -- from the mid-1990s through the time when Tom Miller, who is building his own impressive streak covering the Fighting Hawks, took over the coverage. And I suspect a lot more UND football games before the mid-1990s were covered by Herald beat writers.
And the Herald has covered hundreds of UND men’s and basketball games -- home and away -- as well. However, I still can’t understand why the Herald didn’t send me to Hawaii one year to cover a December UND basketball game.
The point, however, is this: The Herald has been committed to covering UND sports for decades. That hasn’t changed.
And it’s even better when the publication has a beat writer like Schlossman who managed to grind through an incredible run of hockey coverage, now a 502-game streak that started Nov. 6, 2009, in Houghton, Mich. Game No. 502 came Friday night when Quinnipiac beat the Hawks 5-2 in Hamden, Conn.
By the way, Schlossman, undoubtedly the best college hockey writer in the country, already is calculating when he’ll hit 1,000-straight UND hockey games.