Seldom do hockey people stop being hockey people.
Somehow, the sport finds ways to keep its claws dug in.
Noah Grant knows that all too well.
A former high school and junior college hockey player in Bottineau, N.D., Grant earned a bachelor’s degree last year from Minot State and soon began taking graduate-level courses at St. Cloud State. When not in the classroom, he spends part of his time as a men’s and women’s hockey color analyst with SCSU’s student-run radio station, KVSC.
Grant, who also writes for SCSU’s University Chronicle student newspaper, was hardly a fish out of water when he began his on-air duties with KVSC. While at Minot State, he helped cover several North Dakota high school and North American Hockey League games for the regional BEK Sports Network.
“It was a pretty easy transition where I was able to come in and demonstrate my skill set that I had learned,” Grant said of his early days at KVSC. “Having that prior experience and then being a player, that’s exactly what you want a color guy for.
“I had sent an email over to a guy named Brian Stanley, who runs the TV group Husky Productions. He passed my information along to Jim Gray, who runs the radio station KVSC, and from there it started into a discussion of, ‘Hey, there’s an opportunity here if you’re willing to work for it,’ and I kind of put my nose to the grindstone and did what I could.”
The fact that KVSC covers its school’s hockey games makes the station something of a rarity in NCHC circles. Miami and Omaha have student-run radio stations that broadcast home games — in addition, UNO sports information director and former Mavericks play-by-play commentator Dave Ahlers got his start in student radio — but most of the conference’s member schools don’t provide such on-air talent opportunities.
KVSC is a standard-bearer, and working there was too good of a chance for a puckhead like Grant to pass up.
“The radio station has been here since 1967, and actually Herb Brooks was the first one that kind of implemented getting student-run radio at hockey games in the year that he was here (SCSU’s 1986-87 season), so he was instrumental in getting us up and running,” Grant said.
“It’s kind of funny because most of the schools, from what I understand, that do have student-run productions of some sort are smaller schools. I think about, unfortunately, growing up as a (Minnesota Golden) Gophers fan listening to the radio version of the guys at Holy Cross. I was at that (first-round NCAA tournament) game in 2006 (in Grand Forks, N.D.), and they had a student-run broadcast for that.
Grant is unique at KVSC in that not only does he have a hockey-playing background, but he also is aiming to earn a different type of degree from most of his peers. He plans to earn a master’s in speech language pathology. In the meantime, though, he feels honored to work at a station with a long history of producing high-level on-air talent.
“I would say 95 percent of the people that do either TV or radio here are mass communications majors, and they’re really good at what they do,” Grant said. “That’s where I don’t intend to be a person that does step on any people trying to pursue play-by-play and that sort of thing, because that’s not what I bring to the table.
“Our radio station has had some really cool people like (ESPN’s) Clay Matvick, (Fox Sports North’s) Dick Bremer, (NBC Sports Philadelphia’s) Katie Emmer, some people that have gone on and done really amazing things from here. It’s just fun to carry on that tradition.”
Kawaguchi, Brink earn NCHC monthly honors again
North Dakota junior forward Jordan Kawaguchi and Denver freshman forward Bobby Brink were named this week as the NCHC’s player and rookie of the month of January, respectively, and both for the second time this season.
Kawaguchi averaged 1.56 points per game last month, carrying on form in a season in which he has become a Hobey Baker candidate. Eight of his points in January came when UND was on the power play, best in the country. For the season, he leads the NCHC with 41 points on 15 goals and 26 assists.
Brink had six assists and nine points last month for Denver. The Philadelphia Flyers prospect earned a point in seven of DU’s eight games in January, and five of those points came when the Pioneers were playing on the power play.
UND’s Thome keeps gaining momentum
In earning his first back-to-back weekend starts, North Dakota junior goaltender Peter Thome repaid coaches’ faith last week by leading the Fighting Hawks to two home wins over Colorado College.
Thome pitched a 25-save shutout Friday in UND’s 1-0 win over the Tigers and helped kill all three of CC’s power plays. The series opener saw Thome, a Columbus Blue Jackets prospect, earn his first shutout of the season and second for his collegiate career.
He then made 14 saves Saturday when UND rolled to an 8-1 win. CC went 0 for 5 on the power play that night, and Thome finished the weekend with seven saves made while UND was killing penalties.
Thome is now 4-0-1 on the season with a .928 save percentage in six games.