Post #1000 - Look How Far Things Have Come

Wednesday, January 28, 2015
One of the first pictures I posted here (still part of the header photo on the website). How many of those guys can you name?
I have to admit I'm pretty surprised how far Highland Park Hockey (HPH) has come since I created it back in the spring of 2011.

I was finishing up my journalism degree at Penn State and being from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, I originally created HPH as a way to keep up with what the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were doing while on a road trip in Western Canada against the Abbotsford Heat (now Adirondack Flames). I had no idea about the journey I was about to begin.

Starting as an independent blogger, I wasn't considered as media despite having gone to college for four years and earning a degree in journalism. I didn't belong to "a legitimate news-gathering organization".

Times are changing in the media world, especially in sports reporting. You don't have to wait until the next day to find out about tonight's game anymore. The advancement of social media allows people to freely pass along information to people located all around the world. Losing the "just a guy with a website" asterisk is a struggle I still continue to endure with some, but things started to change since the 2012-13 season.

I wouldn't be writing this post if not for Joseph Korba, Associate Publisher of Innovative Designs & Publishing (IDP) Newspaper Division. With the Philadelphia Flyers about to move their AHL affiliate to Allentown, Korba brought me on to the staff at The Town & Country Gazette to cover AHL hockey (specifically the Penguins and Phantoms) with the intention to get readers in the Lehigh Valley accustomed to hockey coverage with the incoming AHL Phantoms on their way to Allentown for the 2014-15 season.

Upon receiving my first full-season media credential with AHL Penguins and covering the team down the stretch in the 2012-13 season, I was extremely fortunate to be working alongside two very good and very helpful beat writers in Tom Venesky of the Times Leader and Jonathan Bombulie of the Citizens Voice. Following their lead, I've learned more things about writing & working in the sports media world than I could ever thank them for or post here.

After the playoffs that year, I had one of my first "I made it" moments that summer. I was invited by the Pittsburgh Penguins to cover the team's annual development camp and in talking during the week with Root Sports TV broadcaster Paul Steigerwald was invited to talk on-air during the camp-concluding scrimmage about some of the prospects I had covered in the AHL. It was a surreal moment. While in Pittsburgh that summer,  I met some of the beat writers in Pittsburgh as well as local bloggers and the Penguins' communications staff. Little did I know then that leaving that camp I had landed another writing gig.

I'm sure those who have read my work here over the years have noticed the expansion of more league-wide AHL coverage over at Hockey's Future. I can't thank Ian Altenbaugh enough for pointing out to me that HF was looking for an AHL writer when I met him at Penguins Development Camp in that summer of 2013.

Last season was a bit of a struggle not having the media access with the AHL Penguins that I was used to, but it was honestly the biggest blessing in disguise I've encountered. It allowed me to create several lasting relationships with other teams around the AHL and has helped me expand my knowledge of hockey prospects around the world.

That all culminated into last weekend's 2015 AHL All-Star Classic in Uitca, NY - another one of those moments where I thought to myself, I have come a long way in trying to break into the ever so challenging sports media world.

I've continued to keep tabs on the AHL Penguins and Pittsburgh's top prospects since 2011, but entering this season I have taken on a new role covering the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for a weekly paper in the Lehigh Valley, The Home News - another paper overseen by Korba & IDP.

I continue to cover AHL hockey in a variety of places with the hopes that I will one day be able to afford to do this full-time as a career. After all, that's what I went to school for four years for, right?

I just want to thank everyone who reads and shares my work with others. There were way too many people to mention in this article and I didn't leave anyone out with the intentions of offending them. If you've helped me along the way, you know who you are because I have reached out to you and personally thanked you.

Here's to another 1,000 AHL-related stories at Highland Park Hockey.


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