5 People Who Influenced My Love for Hockey

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Hockey isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay because football isn’t for everyone, either.

For those unfamiliar with me, I grew up as a football fan first, with basketball and hockey in a virtual tie for second place. Hockey is exciting to watch as it’s an intense, fast-paced sport where players hit opponents, pass pucks, and shoot pucks into nets. Most hockey players are friendly as well.

We all start somewhere, including myself. I wouldn’t have become a hockey fan if it wasn’t for some, if not most, people in my life. I have a laundry list of names to name, but I won’t name them all to avoid tiring all of you. I’ve shortened my list to my top five after talking (and thinking) about this topic.

Without further ado, here’s my list of five people who influenced my love for hockey.

5. Brian Sweet
Have you ever received an email that changed your life? I have.

Despite several attempts from my friends since April 2021, I didn’t talk to Brian Sweet until October 2023. I knew he was a journalist who wrote for Nolan Writin, The Smoking Cuban, and later Blackout Dallas. But he had no idea who I was until he came across my “Jamie Benn Isn’t Captain Material” article and wrote a counter-article in June 2023. I decided to email him myself. I thought to myself, “Why not? If he responds, he responds. If he doesn’t respond, he doesn’t respond.” Thankfully, he responded, and we buried the hatchet on our differences with Benn.

Now, back to Brian’s positive influence on me. Brian has influenced my love for hockey, especially Dallas Stars hockey.

I was looking for a new NHL team to cover after the St. Louis Blues’ 2022-23 regular season ended. I left due to legal issues (please conduct your own research before spewing hate toward me or anyone else). I remembered when a friend told me about all the Texans he knew, including Brian, before I underwent surgery in September 2021. I got so annoyed, as I was concerned about cancer cells, and I wanted to order pizza and chicken wings for dinner. I yelled at him to stop, and I didn’t want to hear about the Dallas Stars and that I wasn’t going to Texas. I later apologized to him.

I was re-introduced to the Dallas Stars by a friend in April 2023, and I wrote a Stars column in 36 hours. I usually write a column in four hours but struggled to learn about the Stars. The Stars are a fun team to watch, which honestly distracted me and contributed to my writer’s block.

No one wanted to hear Jamie Benn wasn’t captain material, but I said what I said. I still stand by what I said, as he isn’t the same, but I do like and respect him as the current Stars captain. I’m against hockey fights, but there needs to be some action in hockey games, and Benn can get physical in a hockey game.

I did myself, and a lot of people, a favor by emailing Brian. All of you are welcome.

4. Caitlin Loggins
Have you received a message that changed your mind? I have.

I briefly lived in South County (South St. Louis, for those who don’t know) before moving to Downtown St. Louis in the Spring of 2021. I worked at Emphatic and St. Louis Game Time.

I wrote an article titled “Five Things You Didn’t Know About Colton Parayko” early in my tenure at Game Time. I received a message from a St. Louis Blues fan named Caitlin Loggins, a freelance writer, author, and photographer, who asked me if I wanted to be friends. I said “Yes,” and we quickly became friends.

I don’t get along with many girls, but Caitlin is like my little sister, as I’m an only child. We turn to each other for advice on work issues, guy problems, and everything in between. We exchange gifts and cards every year. We’re both tomboys who like sports, despite her leaning towards guys’ clothes and me often playing dress up in girls’ clothes.

Although we no longer work together, we’ve remained the best of friends, and there were no hard feelings when I moved on to the Dallas Stars. Caitlin’s favorite Blues player is Colton Parayko, and even though I put the St. Louis Blues in the rearview mirror, Jordan Binnington is still one of my favorite NHL players. I kept my Blues teddy bear, Jordan, and brought him to most of my court hearings for comfort.

3. Ashley Jones
Have you gotten more than you expected? I have.

I was a nervous wreck during the pandemic. I was still dealing with the effects after a bible was thrown at my head in the Summer of 2020. But I met Ashley Jones, a St. Louis Blues fan who helped me cope with my symptoms, during my first appearance on The BlueNote Fan Report podcast in the Spring of 2021. Ashley was in the live chat, sent me a friend request on Facebook, and followed me on Twitter. Ashley and I have been best friends since then.

Ashley is a fan and not a journalist, but her fan-centered perspective and takes are excellent. She could’ve been a journalist if she wanted to become one. We’ve watched Blues games, talked about the Blues and NHL in general, and even hosted Ladies’ Night on The BlueNote Fan Report. Like Caitlin, I got along with Ashley even though I didn’t get along with many girls.

Ashley is like my big sister. We don’t agree on everything, but no two people are the same. But I know she can listen to me vent and the other way around, whether it’s about a bad call or a horrible manager. She was one of the people I discussed the possibility of covering (and converting to) the Dallas Stars in the Spring of 2023. She supports me, just not when the Blues and Stars play each other.

2. Daniel Dullum
Have you learned to expand your horizons? I have.

When I was an editor and reporter for Sports Radio Service in San Francisco, I met the staff, including Daniel Dullum, an analyst and host with decades of experience in journalism. Daniel sent me a Facebook friend request in 2018 because he was living and working in the Phoenix area but working remotely for SRS. Daniel, however, traveled to Northern California every summer to visit his sisters and staffers, so he met my father, who’s the same age as him, and I for brunch at IHOP in the Summer of 2018.

Daniel is a friend, family friend, and former co-worker. I’ve traveled to Phoenix to visit him on several occasions, like when I was in Las Vegas to cover San Jose State men’s basketball appearances in the Mountain West men’s basketball tournaments. I had the chance to watch the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Coyotes, and Arizona Diamondbacks in person. The Coyotes weren’t a good team then, but they’re a team to watch right now, especially if you’re looking to hop on a bandwagon now.

Daniel has been quick to disperse advice to me, from my reporting to my sobriety. I’m thankful for all he has done for me and my father. He doesn’t live in Phoenix anymore, but I’d recommend visiting the Valley of the Sun if you haven’t already. Please go on the Scenic Nature Cruise on Canyon Lake. You won’t regret it at all.

1. Nicholas Mastropierro
Have you looked at your past and learned you were wrong? I have.

I met Nicholas Mastropierro when I was 18 through a mutual friend, so we go way back. I call him by his nickname, Nicky. Nicky is a huge sports fan, including the NHL, and a sports gear collector. Nicholas is a native New Yorker (and my favorite NY’er, in case you didn’t know).

Nicky’s favorite NHL teams are the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars. Nicky was the first Stars fan I’ve met, so it’s safe to call him the OG Stars fan in my book. I later asked him for advice about what should be my first Stars jersey, which Stars player I should root for, where to eat on my first trip to Dallas, etc.

Nicky is my close friend. He has been my right-hand man for over a decade now. I’ve given him career advice, and he has educated me about hockey. Also, he has encouraged me to read all of the Dallas Stars articles, so if I hadn’t listened, I wouldn’t have been where I am today.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
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Ana Kieu

Ana Kieu is a journalist by trade. Her love for sports shows in her writing, editing, and podcasting work. She writes about the NHL for Inside The Rink.

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