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Blogger Keeps Fans in the Know About Texas Stars

Monday, 06.16.2014 / 10:40 AM / Inside Edge
By Mark Stepneski
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Blogger Keeps Fans in the Know About Texas Stars
The Texas Stars began play in October 2009, and Stephen Meserve\u2019s comprehensive coverage of the team wasn\u2019t far behind.

The Texas Stars began play in October 2009, and Stephen Meserve’s comprehensive coverage of the team wasn’t far behind.

Meserve is the guy behind 100 Degree Hockey, the go-to site for Texas Stars and information. It’s a labor of love born out of a passion for hockey and the belief the team wasn’t getting enough news coverage when it first arrived on the scene in Central Texas.

“I grew up in Dallas and I was really passionate about the team,” Meserve said. “I saw that Defending Big D [blog covering the Dallas Stars] had started around that time and thought maybe I could give this a shot.”

Meserve, a season ticket holder, sent an email to then Texas Stars director of media relations Josh Fisher, who put him on the list for press releases and 100 Degree Hockey got going. It’s been rolling ever since. Meserve provides game previews, game recaps, analysis, news updates and feature articles. He has historical information on the site as well, including the whereabouts of every player who has suited up for the franchise. All this with a full-time job as a product marketing manager for an Austin company.

“I think the impressive part of it is not how comprehensive he is, but the fact that he does it all on his own,” said Owen Newkirk, Texas’ current director of media relations and broadcasting. “He’s not contracted out by a major media publication, he’s not getting paid to do this like a normal beat writer would be. He is literally showing his passion for the sport in general, for the sport in Texas and specifically for the Texas Stars. He gives us the blanket coverage we wouldn’t have if it weren’t for him. His dedication is admirable, and it is just fantastic what he does for us.”

Meserve’s coverage goes beyond sitting in front of a computer, regurgitating press releases or firing off opinions. He goes to where the news is, heading out to the rink to conduct interviews at a morning skate, practice or team media day. He has a season ticket and will watch games from either his seat or the press box, and will head to the locker room for postgame comments from players and coaches.

“It makes it feel like I am putting more into it and am connected to it,” Meserve said. “It would be easy to look at whatever is put up on YouTube and say I am covering the team when I am not actually there asking questions. I have the ability to ask questions fans are wanting to know about and drive the conversation. I am able to do feature articles as well, which is nice. I do take a lot of pride in being there and being present to have the conversations and be a consistent contributor.”

Newkirk joked that even when Meserve isn’t at a morning skate or practice, he still finds a way to be there in a way.

“He’s everywhere. If he’s not there by himself he’s got spies everywhere. And I say that in the most endearing way possible,” Newkirk said. “He’s made enough connections over the five years that if he can’t go to a practice or a morning skate, he knows people that will report for him. You’ll see an article on his blog and say, ‘I didn’t see him today. How did he know that?’ I think he has taken a dive headfirst into this and really embraced it.”

There also is an occasional trip to Dallas or Frisco to catch up with players who have made the jump from the Texas Stars to the Dallas Stars.

“It was a real rewarding experience to go into the locker room in Dallas and have guys like Brenden Dillon and Colton Sceviour recognize me, say hi and ask me how things are going in Austin,” Meserve said. “I think that minor league experience, where you get that more intimate exposure to a player – that’s true for the fans as well – it’s a very different experience, and it’s been rewarding to be able to go up there to cover a playoff game, the preseason and training camp, all sorts of things.”

Meserve has had feature articles published on the American Hockey League’s official site and the official site of the Dallas Stars. All of the work he puts into the blog takes a lot of time. Meserve couldn’t’ say exactly how many hours he puts in every week maintaining the blog, but it’s somewhere between 20 and 30 hours per week. That doesn’t include the time he puts in keeping up with stuff related to the team.

His employer is on board with Meserve’s efforts. As long as he is getting everything done at the day job, there’s no problem if he heads to the rink now and then.

All the time and effort has paid off, not so much financially. He has some Google ads on the site to help cover costs, but the payoff has come in the increased popularity of 100 Degree Hockey among both fans and the team as well.

“The traffic obviously really picked up with the Calder Cup run that first year (2009-10) and it has continued going up from there,” Meserve said. “[The Stars] have been really supportive. Josh Fisher didn’t have to give me the time of day. I am not a journalist by trade. I am a mechanical engineer, which is what I went to school for at [UT-Austin]. … I know a lot of people with the team read the blog. Michael Delay, the VP, really loves it and supports it. I know when coach [Glen] Gulutzan was here he read it. Lots of players, wives and girlfriends read it. Sometimes I get positive or negative feedback about that.”

But in the team’s eyes, the coverage Meserve provides is a big positive.

“In Central Texas football is huge, University of Texas football particularly takes the cake. Anything that happens there gets the mainstream attention,” Newkirk said. “So, to have somebody that is not only dedicated to coverage but specifically to us, gives us the kind of coverage that otherwise we probably wouldn’t see very much.”

The coverage of the team has grown over the past couple seasons. Sean Shapiro now provides stories for the Austin American-Statesman and has his own blog, Wrong Side of the Red Line. Between Meserve and Shapiro, the Stars are well covered.

But it was Meserve who set the standard with a lot of dedication and hard work. While the support of the team, fans and his employer has been key, there is another very important backer of his efforts.

“My wife really does support it,” said Meserve, whose wife attends games with him when he is not in the press box. “She sees that it makes me very happy to be able to cover the team on a daily basis and she loves seeing me happy, so she absolutely supports it.”

And the site’s growing popularity over the years is proof that a lot of people are happy with the Texas Stars coverage Meserve provides with 100 Degree Hockey.

Calder Cup Finals resume

After a four day break, the Calder Cup Finals resume Monday in St. John’s Newfoundland. Texas leads St. John’s 2-1 and the two teams will play back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday in St. John’s. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, will be played in Cedar Park.

Game 4 on Fox Sports Southwest Plus

Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals between the Texas Stars and St. John’s IceCaps, which is Monday at 5 p.m. CDT, will be carried live on Fox Sports Southwest Plus. Here is the channel lineup for the various carriers in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Time Warner – 906
Charter – 300 (SD), 776 (HD) - Denton (314)
DirecTV – 676-1 (SD & HD)
Dish – 444 (SD), 9514 (HD)
U-verse – 754 (SD), 1754 (HD)
FiOS – 77 (SD), 577 (HD)

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NSH 63 41 15 7 191 151 89
2 ANA 64 40 17 7 189 177 87
3 STL 62 40 18 4 192 153 84
4 CHI 63 37 21 5 183 150 79
5 WPG 64 32 20 12 179 172 76
6 VAN 61 35 23 3 174 162 73
7 MIN 62 33 22 7 176 161 73
8 CGY 62 33 25 4 175 160 70
9 LAK 62 29 21 12 166 162 70
10 SJS 63 30 25 8 175 181 68
11 COL 63 27 25 11 167 182 65
12 DAL 63 27 26 10 196 210 64
13 ARI 63 20 36 7 138 214 47
14 EDM 63 18 35 10 143 208 46

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 63 23 37 -3 60
T. Seguin 55 29 30 0 59
J. Spezza 63 15 37 -5 52
E. Cole 57 18 15 4 33
T. Daley 60 16 17 -10 33
J. Klingberg 49 10 23 1 33
C. Eakin 60 14 14 -2 28
A. Hemsky 57 9 17 -9 26
A. Goligoski 63 2 24 1 26
A. Roussel 61 12 11 -11 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Lehtonen 25 13 10 .905 2.97
J. Enroth 13 25 2 .900 3.30
 
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