The Herald lost 75 years of experience today with the retirements of columnist Ryan Bakken and photographer John Stennes. You’ve surely seen their work throughout the years in regards to covering UND hockey.
Bakken was the sports editor before moving to news columnist, so a lot of his UND hockey work was before my time. I do remember hearing a story about Bakken and Virg Foss running up the down escalator at the 1987 Frozen Four in Detroit.
Bakken also was sent to Milwaukee to cover the 2006 Frozen Four via blog. It was the first time the Herald did something like that and I thought it was great stuff. If you want to re-read it, the blog still lives here.
I’ve worked more closely with Stennes over the years. We’ve been on a few road trips together, too.
John traveled to one regular-season hockey series in my time to shoot, and the Herald picked a pretty good one. UND swept Minnesota in Minneapolis for the first time in nearly 20 years. That series had it all, including a dominant performance from Ryan Duncan, Jonathan Toews and T.J. Oshie.
In fact, Stennes captured this photo that I still see posted today (sorry about the color being a little off, John). Robbie Bina, who scored a goal from about 170 feet that weekend, also is in the picture.
Erik Fabian, who had Minnesota’s number throughout his career, also scored a pair of goals that weekend. And being a former teammate of Matt Greene, he knew how to get facetime.
The one thing John and I will always remember from that series was walking from our hotel to Mariucci Arena between buildings on campus with the most incredible wind gust flying through the buildings as we walked backwards.
John and I also covered one regional together. We went to Green Bay in 2011. The trip ended up being one of the nicest ever. We went on the team charter, which was filled with first-class seats the entire length of the plane. It was a quick and easy flight to Green Bay.
UND ended up playing the regional final at 4:30 p.m. We covered the game and got home by 11 p.m. That spoiled travel forever for me.
UND beat RPI in the first game 6-0, then knocked out Denver 6-1 in the championship. Stennes got this shot of Danny Kristo scoring against RPI that weekend.
John and I covered one Frozen Four together — 2007 in St. Louis. I remember eating at Calico’s in downtown St. Louis every night when we were done with our work. That’s also where we found out that Duncan would win the Hobey Baker.
John didn’t only shoot men’s hockey. He also shot women’s hockey and covered the first-ever game of the Lamoureux Era. Monique had 2 goals, 2 assists and 13 shots on goal in a 5-4 upset of Boston University.
At his going away gathering on Friday, I asked John a few questions about covering UND hockey. Did he have a favorite team to cover? A favorite player to cover? A favorite story about covering the team?
He said his favorite players were from the early 1980s — the Marc Chorney, Phil Sykes, Mark Taylor era.
His favorite story was from the 1980 Frozen Four in Providence.
After the game, the NCAA has a mandatory cooling off period for the teams, where journalists are not allowed to do interviews. There was an NCAA rep standing next to the door making sure that nobody broke the rules.
All the sudden, the locker room door swings open and trainer A.G. Edwards walks out. He points and Stennes and says, “Gino wants to see you.” Stennes walks in the locker room and head coach Gino Gasparini said, “There you go,” and let him shoot.
Of course, he got unbelievable stuff — shots that nobody else had. He had a shot of Travis Dunn, sitting in his stall, crying with joy.
Unfortunately, our photographers lost everything in the 1997 flood and fire. But that memory always stuck with him.
We will definitely miss Bakken and Stennes, personally and professionally. They brought a lot to our paper, our readers and their co-workers.
So, here’s one last Stennes shot that you will see posted all over every time UND and Minnesota play each other in hockey.