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Lightning hockey coverage dominating local newspapers

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The exhilarating Tampa Bay Lightning win over the Chicago Blackhawks is dominating local newspapers. Even as lunchtime approached Wednesday morning, both the Tampa Bay Times and the Tampa Tribune’s websites showed headlines of Tuesday night’s triumph front and center.

The Times is leading the coverage with not one, but four headlines pertaining to the Lightning’s Game 3 win. The Bolts, largely dominated in the first two periods, managed to eek out a win, thanks in part to super goalie Ben Bishop, 3-2 in an up-to-the-last-second nail-biter in Chicago.

The Times main header on its website scrolls through four headlines — Road Thrill: Bolts take 2-1 lead over Chicago in Stanley Cup Final, Lightning effort shows it has as much guts as skill, Thousands gather to watch Game 3 in Tampa’s Curtis Hixon Park and, my favorite, Aww, looks like the city of broad shoulders needs one to cry on.

The first is a typical, here’s what happened, sort of story reporting on Bishop’s mammoth performance saving 36 goals.

The second is a piece by Times sports columnist Tom Jones in which he accurately describes the performance by Bishop and the Lightning as a weird back and forth of “they’re doing good, now they’re not, now they are again.”

He even makes reference to Bishop’s on-again/off-again, but still awesome performance and the previous game’s weird disappearing act in which Bishop left the ice mysteriously twice in the third period. Jones drew on speculation that Bishop had either been injured or just needed to be close to the john.

Then of course there’s the piece on the Curtis Hixon watch party. Thousands gathered at the waterfront park in downtown Tampa instead of the space outside of Amalie Arena to watch the first away game of the Stanley Cup final.

But the highlight of the Times’ coverage of Game 3 wasn’t some writer’s thoughts on whether Ben Bishop had to go number two or blow-by-blow coverage of the game, it was the probably best photo ever showing the sheer horror on Blackhawks fans’ faces as their team fell behind in the series.

The Associated Press photo shows two Latinas decked out in the token black and red Chicago gear wearing, “I’m going to kick your a**” grimaces. They’re joined by a guy who looks angry and bouncer-like crossing his arms and pouting.

While the photo tells the whole story, Times writer Zachary Sampson points out Chicago fans are hung up by an almost goal in the first period in which Marian Hossa missed a pretty much empty net.

That echoes coverage over at the Tampa Tribune, where they led with what national media are saying about the game.

Among those headlines are Chicago-based references to Hossa’s missed shot, a couple of Victor Hedman being awesome headlines, Ben Bishop’s mysterious disappearing and subsequent Game 3 performance and Chicago’s must-win Game 4 prospects.

TV media outlets have already buried Lightning coverage. Both News Channel 8 and Fox 13 have prominent alternative headlines. News Channel 8 shows coverage of an emergency evacuation of an Allegiant Air plane while Fox shows a story about a trooper who rescued a driver from a flaming car.

Bay News 9 and WTSP are still leading their websites with Lightning coverage. WTSP highlights Bishop’s winning performance despite an injury while Bay News 9 calls Game 3 a “thriller.”

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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