How to write a sports story and cover a hockey game: CP Game Over

Several years ago, my colleague CBCSports. ca's Malcolm Kelly, did a guest lecture in my University of Toronto/Centennial College journalism Intro to News Reporting class. He taught the students how to cover a hockey game, with tips that could come in especially handy for those students who don't like sports, or have only a rudimentary understanding of the game, or even pray that they would never be called on to actually cover sports.

Kelly told them they'd better learn the survival method of covering a hockey game, since you never know when the editor will come into an empty newsroom to find you the only reporter there,  and send you out to cover a game.

The Canadian Press stylebook has a good section on the fine points of covering various sports, but Malcolm Kelly gave my students a great little formula that they could use to file what's known as a CP Game Over. It's the first brief 150 word account of the result of a hockey game, and is expected to be filed back to the newsroom by a reporter within about five minutes of the closing buzzer. Same is true for baseball, as well as other sports. Longer stories called writethroughs get written after the reporter has had time to go to the dressing room and get quotes.

Malcolm Kelly's tips:
1. Ask someone smarter then you are for help, if you don't understand something.
2. Get the game sheet from an official.
3. Look on CBCSports.Ca's excellent website for standings, scoreboard, game reports, and other statistics to help you with context and spelling.
4. Don't try to be fancy or nuanced, if you don't have a clue: just tell what you saw, and follow a simple formula.

Today, thanks to Malcolm's great teaching, and his formula, I wrote this CP Game Over after my son's hockey championship! Go Richmond Hill Stars! Thank you Malcolm!

(Toronto-Jan 23.2010) Brendan Lang scored an unassisted goal at 9:17 of the second period Sunday morning, to lead the Richmond Hill Stars Atom Select team to a 5-1 victory against the East York Bulldogs Atom Select team for the championship in their division at the GTHL's  Select Winter Classic tournament held at Amesbury Arena. 

Lang, who was also named most valuable player of the game for Richmond Hill (3-1), had a total of three goals. East York's lone goal to ruin Richmond Hill goalie John D'Couto's shutout was scored by John Buchan, at 1:28 of the third period, assisted by Quinn Reetham-Clayton and David Dunlop. 

The Atom Select players were among nearly 60 teams from the Greater Toronto Area and southern Ontario who were competing iortsn this annual tournament, held Jan. 19 to 23 at arenas scattered across the York -Weston area of Toronto. 

It was a surprising victory for Richmond Hill, since it was the team's first time playing in a tournament. In fact, the team didn't exist until mid-November, when coach Ralph Di Roma agreed to scout the top 10 year-old hockey players from both house and local league and organize a squad. 

Other Richmond Hill goal scorers Sunday included Evan Friedlan, and Evan Nitchov. 

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