AUS Hockey’s Headshot Problem

An article analyzing and revealing the high percentage of hits to the head in university hockey. Referenced by CBC in a follow-up story.

Published at

January 2012


After attending an AUS hockey game for fun, I saw an opportunity to take some initiative in finding a story that hadn’t been talked about enough: that a lot of AUS games featured bad hits to players’ heads. In 2012 the discourse around brain injuries to hockey players was just coming to light and UNews had already published a profile of a player on Dalhousie’s team who was out of class for an entire season with a head injury. Despite that, the game I went to featured another bad hit to a player’s head.

I had followed AUS sports for a long time in my capacity as sports editor at The Dalhousie Gazette. I was able to quickly find sources in the AUS community and acquire video that hadn’t been public before. I collected data from past game reports to find trends in types of penalties called in AUS hockey and was able to discuss that with athletics directors to get commentary on how concussions were affecting students and how AUS discipline standards were evolving.

I learned a lot doing this story about how to coordinate coverage with other writers. We used story meetings to discuss topics where UNews could gain audience traction over several stories and used analytics to gauge how our stories were being received in the wider community. The AUS headshot story, as well as UNews’ concussion coverage, was picked up by CBC Halifax for a story shortly after we published it.

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