Skates cut quickly across the ice as several players sprint towards the flying puck. There is a loud thud as one player is checked into the glass and another player slaps his stick against the puck, sending it towards his teammate. The audience anxiously awaits the first goal.
This scene played out repeatedly for Joe Yerdon when he was a young child, as he watched the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) men's hockey team fly up and down the ice. It's also what sealed his fate as a lifelong hockey enthusiast.
"It was nuts," said Yerdon. "When you are 6 years old, it totally blows you away."
Yerdon has been following hockey ever since. The game has been in his life since he was a little kid and Yerdon is fortunate to now have a career that is solely focused on his passion: covering the NHL as a writer.
Yerdon is a full-time writer for the NBC sports website Pro Hockey Talk, where he has been covering the NHL since March 2010. Yerdon typically handles the "day side of operations," meaning he writes about what goes on in the NHL during the day and reports on things such as trades and player injuries in real time.
Writing on a daily basis is the primary focus of Yerdon's job. However, he has had many exciting opportunities to interview players and cover games. He said the highlight of his career thus far was going to the 2011 Stanley Cup finals in Boston.
"It was amazing being able to witness such a huge event like that," he said.
Yerdon has been given the privilege of having a career that allows him to live and breathe the fast-paced game of hockey, including meeting the best players and attending the biggest games.
But the road to success was steep, difficult and often unclear.
In college, Yerdon dreamed of one day being a lead play-by-play man in the broadcast booth. While he didn't know if this would happen, he knew for certain he wanted to be involved in sports.
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism, Yerdon worked in radio for six years at Clear Channel Radio. "I put on a lot of hats," he said. He produced several different shows focused on either sports or news, and produced a morning talk show for about three years.
Yerdon dealt a lot more with news stories than he did sports. He even produced a political talk show.
"It was its own kind of mind show since it dealt greatly with people and their opinions. It was always interesting," he said.
His experience in radio was enjoyable, but Yerdon came to realize it wasn't going to pay the bills, and he needed a Plan B. "With its own kind of labor of love, radio doesn't pay out real well, especially with producers. You do it for the love, you don't do it for the money. But at some point, money wins," he said.
Making a move from being a radio producer to a sports writer was a smooth process for Yerdon. Although he majored in broadcast journalism where his classes were not writing intensive, the writing he did churn out often received a lot of praise. "People would always like when I wrote something, so I thought I might as well stick with it," he said.
After his time at Clear Channel Radio, he did just that by starting his own personal hockey blog as a way to carve a path into the sports world.
"With the way the Internet has expanded for sports fans and writers, the ability to expose what you are doing is always there and available. For me it's great because I was able to get back into writing," said Yerdon.
His blog consisted of professional and college hockey. He discussed any breaking news that was being discussed and felt he was free to say as he pleased and could be more creative with photos and artwork.
While Yerdon was working on blogging and his own website, he was approached by a full-time writer from Pro Hockey Talk. He was asked about working part-time for the site because NBC liked what he was writing and the opinions he had to offer. They thought he would be a great addition to the site and offer a new perspective.
Yerdon jumped at the opportunity and after a couple months, a full-time writing position opened up and Yerdon immediately applied. NBC hired him and the rest is history.
While his career has truly begun to blossom, it took a lot of hard work and Yerdon is still trying to prove himself worthy on a near daily basis.
"I'm still getting comfortable in my own shoes with what I'm doing. I get to be on radio shows where I'm the guest, I'm no longer the one calling people, and I'm the guy who goes to the Winter Classic, the Stanley Cup and the All-Star game. A lot of it is just figuring out a way to be comfortable, but once I'm in the midst of it it's great. It blows me away that I get to do this," said Yerdon.
For anyone who is considering going into sports writing, Yerdon has a piece of advice worth considering. "Never get discouraged. If it's writing you want to do, keep at it and keep an open mind to learn and prove what you're doing. There's no such thing as a bad experience."