Senior Column | Life’s all about power plays

The Iowa Heartlanders were my power play at The Daily Iowan.


Sports Reporter Isaac Goffin.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

When I started at The Daily Iowan in August 2019, the three Hawkeye sports I wanted to cover were football, men’s basketball, and baseball.

Sure, I gained memorable experiences working on all three of those beats.

I stayed in the Kinnick Stadium press box for an eternity in September as three lightning delays led to the Nevada-Iowa football game ending at 1:39 a.m. I witnessed Luka Garza’s final contest at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, but less than 600 people attended it because of COVID-19 policies. I’ll never forget Iowa baseball’s 30-16 drubbing over Indiana in May. That was the most unbelievable sporting event I’ve attended.

But as I leave the Adler Journalism Building, it’s the Iowa Heartlanders beat that sticks out the most.

I never thought I would cover hockey, let alone the ECHL. If you would have asked me what the ECHL was at my first DI orientation, I don’t think I could have told you.

Yet, I felt inclined to take the Heartlanders beat before the franchise’s inaugural season in 2021. After the pandemic shook up the sports and media landscape, I knew it was time to take a risk if I wanted to move to a better place. As it turns out, I went on a power play without realizing it. I now live by the saying “Life’s all about power plays,” which means taking on advantageous situations.

Following the Heartlanders and the ECHL for work is difficult. As a minor league club, the Heartlanders are always involved in transactions.

You never know who will be there each day, as a skater could be cut or signed at a moment’s notice, or they could be sent up to the AHL.

In fact, I make careful note of whether a player is on an NHL, AHL, or ECHL deal, forcing me to track the entire Minnesota Wild system. Also, trades among other ECHL franchises occur, adding to my stress.

There’s a reason why the ECHL is nicknamed the “Ever Changing Hockey League,” but thanks to Heartlanders Director of Communications and broadcaster David Fine and the daily 4:08 p.m. league transaction email I receive, I know what’s going on.

Though the regular season lasts from October to April, it’s a 365-day job for me — considering all the offseason moves and coaching changes I covered.

I’ve conducted my fair share of interviews after losses. It’s not fun looking at the pain on head coach Derek Damon’s face as he reports on why his team fell.

So, how are the Heartlanders a power play for me? It’s because of the fans and the excitement of covering a new franchise.

Whether I post a transaction update, quotes, or whatever to the Facebook fan group, I know I can count on the 2,000 people in the group to read it. Facebook can be a scary platform, but I enjoy seeing my impression count rise, and I love reading comments I probably shouldn’t look at.

As the sole full-time Heartlanders reporter, I feel it’s my responsibility to let fans know what’s happening no matter what. I’m honored you’ve put your trust in someone who started the beat when he was 20. You should have seen me laugh in the Hilton Coliseum when I found out my Yuki Miura story was our top tweet of the week by a landslide despite it competing with our Big Ten Football Championship Game coverage.

To the fans, front office, hockey operations staff, and players, it’s bittersweet to know I won’t be at Xtream Arena after Dec. 17.

Yet, I’m embracing my move to Birmingham, Alabama. Though I’m not starting a hockey-related job, I know because of the Heartlanders’ fans, I can connect with my new audience.

I’ve always wanted to start a new life in the South. I know I’m commencing another successful power play after scoring on one in Xtream Arena. That’s why part of my heart will always be in the Heartland.