Sunday, March 3, 2013

Koby Graciously Concedes; Karofsky Walks Off with First Solo WSHSHP Title

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your 2013 WSHSHP Champion, Andrew Karofsky.
Well, that certainly turned out to be a snoozer. Eau Claire Memorial destroys Verona 6-1 in the title game, vaulting the underdog Old Abes to their second state title. Well played, ECM. No one gave these guys a virgin's chance in the Kollege Klub of winning a tittle after a slow start to their season but, much as Homestead did in the early rounds of the tourney, the boys proved it's all about Who has the hot hand come tourney time and who has blown their wad defeating Notre Dame less than 24 hours earlier.

Congratulations, Mr. Andy Karofsky on a fine win. Only one other WSHSHP participant, Mark Krajan, field had the cajones to chose the Old Abes (and that's only because his wife is a proud graduate of that school). Krajan rides that bold choice to his highest ever finish, taking home the SILVER award with 290 points.

Mark Krajan's expression says it all: "Show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser."
Blake Feist, currently rising a quad lift somewhere in Montana, takes home the BRONZE with 234 points, narrowly edging out Creighton Fung.

Scientist/Model Blake Feist.
Rounding out the Top 10 is the always gracious Brian Kobylinski in 5th, TJ Hansen in 6th, Ivo Knezevic, Pappy Birrenkott and Verona alumnus John Rader in 7th, the surprising Tom Baldwin in 8th, crafty veteran Dan Krewson in 9th, and Mo Mott/Analisa Rudy and best-selling novelist/rookie Matt Solomon in a tie for 10th.

Lost in the hoopla this year has been some shockingly poor performances by veterans who, frankly, should know better. Wayne Lee, despite spending an entire weekend running complex algorithms on the +/- ratios and power play percentages, finished in a pitiful 30th place in this year's standings, while blowhard Erik Moe had his worst showing in the history of his time with the WSHSHP, limping across the finish line in 32nd place, hand in hand with New Orleans resident Tom Grantham, both of them barely ahead of perpetual basement dwellers Jed Resnik (Ashland), Tim Shore (Rhinelander) and Kelli Dornfeld (Spooner).

I think we all know what lies at the root of Wayne Lee's poor showing.
Erik Moe: A Face of Shame
What has happened to Moe? Rumors are rampant but this office does not stoop to such gossip. Wd can all just hope this year's shameful performance can be written off as a down year for the once proud former Cruskater.

More analysis later. Until then, please join me in congratulating Andy Karofsky on his fine achievement. You can find the full

Friday, March 1, 2013

And then there were two: Karofsky and Koby to slug it off for WSHSHP title.

Wowzers, what a night of hockey in Madison! Superior tries to sneak in illegal shooters on two separate penalty shots within two minutes and gets stonewalled by Old Abe goaltender Alex Geving both times. Talk about your Instant Karma.

So it comes down to Denver's Andy Karofsky and Milwaukee's Brian Kobylinski for all the marbles tomorrow. I believe Karofsky split a title with this humble reporter many years ago before better records were kept and Koby won just a few seasons back, so both these fellas know what they're doing out there.

It's bound to be a heck of a game. Stay tuned.

Do you believe in miracles?

Brian Kobylinski does.

The Verona Wildcats have just pulled off one of the biggest upsets in recent Big Ice history, drubbing the heavily favored (and poorly crested) Notre Dame Tritons, 5-2. This is the same Verona team that lost to ND by eight goals earlier this season, inviting comparisons by at least one WSHSHP to the Glory Boys of Lake Placid.

Wow. Just wow. It's why they play the games.

And speaking of games, Eau Claire Memorial and Superior have taken to the ice. I must apologize in advance for Superior's poor decision to wear white helmets with dark blazers. And don't even get me started on the socks. C'mon, boys, this is Fashion 101. Creighton Fung certainly hopes your hockey skills are better than your sense of style.

Feist Clings to Lead Over Mott/Rudy; Fung and Koby Look to Make Their Move

It took all the brain power of the Central Office (and most of its lunch hour) to figure out the standings but it breaks down this way:

All alone at the top, and literally shaking with his usual meth-like enthusiasm, sits the eccentric fitness freak Blake "Heat Miser" Feist. The man barely made it into this year's field, but he was obviously using the extra time to do some research. The kid knows his Wisconsin high school hockey almost as much he knows the reproductive organs of the Banded Killifish (and trust me, folks, that is saying something).

Is this really a Banded Killifish? Only Blake Feist truly knows.
Right behind Feist, but needing a miracle, is the the field's only couple entry: Eric "Mo" Mott and Analisa Rudy. In keeping with today's wildlife theme, rather than show you a photo of the fetching duo, I'm going to post a photo of the leading candidate to be the next member of their household:

And look here's in third? Everyone's favorite uncle, Creighton Fung! He has been riding the Superior bandwagon so long they have named an exit row after him. Should the Spartans prevail today, he'll be in an ideal position to claim his first ever WSHSHP title. 

Fung posing with a lesser trophy.
And let us not forget Brian "Koby" Kobylinski. He has quietly worked his way up the WSHSHP ladder once again this year. If Verona advances this afternoon (and as of this writing, they hold a shocking 2-1 lead over the favored Notre Dame Tritons) he could find Wooden Plank #2 on a bookcase already stuffed with false glories of an overrated athletic career.

Stay tuned, folks. The game is streaming over at Wisconsin Prep Hockey. MJ Hammett and the boys doing their usual fine job. Tune in!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Project Runway Meets the Final Eight: Game 3


We have ourselves another split jersey scheme with the heavily favored Old Abes. The darks are my favorite of the two, despite the shoulder logo (more on that later). I've always had a soft spot for Old Abe (easily the coolest team name in the Final) and the depiction of Old Abe is the perfect balance of whimsy and subtle violence. ECM is taking a gamble with the non-traditional pattern and multi-color scheme. In short, it's the most fashion-forward of all the uniforms on display this weekend.

Three captains (and on ridiculously long shoelace belt). Clean it up, Cap!
They flip the logos with the white jerseys, relegating Old Abe to the shoulders and moving the too-busy text treatment to center stage. Bad move. Even at a larger size, the text logo remains unreadable. Would be so much cooler just with the Old Abes written out. Granted, this could be a case of my color blindness getting in the way, but I have always trusted my gut on these things and I think I'm right on this one.

You only get one chance to make a first impression and let's be honest here, the WNS Storm sort of blow their debut. For those of you not "in the know," WNS is an acronym for Whitefish Bay/Nicolet/Shorewood, three tony Milwaukee suburbs that under the guidance of Coach of the Year Maco Balkovec have developed an impressive hockey program. Sadly, co-op uniforms either end up a rainbow of clashing school colors (see Janesville) or, in the Storm's case, blahsville. (I am tempted to sound off on the singular soccer name but this is neither the time nor the place.) 

I understand the challenge here: You have three schools, three mascots, three sets of school colors, so it makes sense to stick with some letters for the crest. But surely there is a more artful way of presenting them? I'm just not feeling anything here; I crave something more. 

Kudos for the font and size on the numbers on back. I like that:

Note to self: Keep an eye on those Sun Prairie uniforms. They show promise.
And what's with the Dallas Cowboy stars on the sleeve? Someone talk to me about what the hell that signifies? To this casual observer, it feels superfluous. And I will stand by that statement until someone can give me a damn good reason for why it's there. 

I'm sorry, Storm. I love that you are the only #1 seed to make it to The Big Ice, but I just wish you had picked out a better gown to wear to the ball.


Project Runway Meets the Final Eight: Game 2


When it comes to uniforms, Wisconsin Rapids comes close to delivering the whole package:

Nice balance. A confident composition that doesn't try too hard. (Remember: it's not what you add to a uniform design that makes it great; it's what you leave on the sewing room floor.) The whole get-up exudes a Soviet elegance that can sneak up on the fashion-minded hockey fan.

And the whites are even better. Love the whites. Red numbers with red trim? Inspired. Why add a third color when two will do quite nicely. And the white arm numbers against the red shoulder patches is a nice touch.

Rapids' one drawback, and it's a doozy, remains the team crest:

The hockey player silhouette is dated but in a bad way. It had one judge convinced the team jams Bon Jovi in the locker room between periods. Just as Project Runway Season Two contestant Santino once turned a so-so evening gown into a show-stopper just by removing an overwrought wrap, the Red Raiders could lose that silhouette and find themselves with a fairly decent logo.

Let's move on to Notre Dame.

I don't think I'm going too far out on a limb when I state the late great Oscar Wilde would have been a huge fan of Project Runway. Mr. Wilde once famously apologized for the great length of a missive he penned a friend, stating that he hadn't the time to write a short one.  Well, that same sentiment can be applied to the our friends at Green Bay Notre Dame who appear to have spent far too much time building a hockey powerhouse and far too little time contemplating what makes for a powerhouse uniform.

Ugh. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears their uniform features the dreaded (and exceedingly rare) crest within a crest layout? Inexcusable. It's like they couldn't make up their mind between the stylized ND and the more academic shield shape so they figured, "Why not throw in both and make an even bigger shield?" This is an admirable intention when choosing between, say, a Culver's Butter Burger and a cheese-infused bratwurst but it just doesn't work in the hockey fashion world.

I give the boys credit for breaking out the colored laces at the neckline; that's a fairly bold and expensive move on their parts, but in this case, the added splash of color just muddies up an already busy presentation.

Must. Avoid. Urge. To. Give. #10. Shit. About. His. Goal. Celebration. Dance.
That said, I must give the Tritons an A for consistency and accessorization. You've got to sell your design and to a man, these guys put the uniformity in uniforms.

Still, when the scores are tabulated and the judges have had their bitch fest, this one isn't that close at all....


Project Runway Meets the Final Eight: Game 1

So there are plenty of well-informed people out there analyzing this year's eight finalists for sport's most cherished trophy this side of Lord Stanley's Cup. But only at The Big Ice will you find the kind of detailed fashion analysis that makes one wonder if the Commissioner enjoyed the full body shave he endured as a college freshman hockey player more than he initially let on.

Closeted homosexuality aside, this office has projected a state champion, based solely on the one thing that truly matters: uniform design. So in the words of our beloved Heidi Klum, "Let's get on with the show."

Game 1:
These are very important games, so it's absolutely necessary to examine both the home and away jerseys when rendering a verdict. The two versions can vary wildly, as is the case with Wausau West.
The Warriors have made some major improvements with their darks, simplifying the front crest and flirting fearlessly with its size, teetering right on the edge of being too large (that's what she said).

Now that's what I call a crest. And note the nice details: the sticker on the helmet, the West stitched artfully over the shoulder number. Tim Gunn is right: Accessories can make or break a uniform composition. These kids got it right. I'm even willing to step back from my earlier criticism of the number color. White with gold trim is just fine; making those numbers gold with white trim would just be too much gold. And speaking of too much gold, let's take a gander at Wausau West's light jerseys:

Ahhhhh! My eyes, my eyes! Don't even get me started on the crest. That color. Dear God, that color. When I close my eyes, I still see that canary yellow burned against my gin-engorged eyelids. That color makes my rec league team's orange pylon numbers look as elegant as a Montreal Canadiens jersey.

But hold on, Verona, before you get too cocky, let's take a look at what you sent out on the runway:

I must say, your darks are a pleasant surprise. Nice balanced composition, a safe (maybe too safe?) old school crest, and the players seem to share a commitment to wearing the same colored gloves. And as for number size-to-jersey size ratio, it doesn't get better than this:

But watch what happens when make the transition to white:

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of nameplates on the back of high school jerseys. (Last time I checked the spelling, there was no "Fromberger" in "team.") But if you're going to concede to a mulletted teen's ego, at least do it right. These nameplates look like they were done as part of an extra credit project in Miss Huber's Home Economics class; even from this distance I can delineate the patch from the jersey. We expect better craftsmanship from one of the top-ranked teams in the state. An unnecessary, and potentially fatal, flaw.

So, Verona and Wausau West, one of you will be moving onto the next round, and one of you will be out. Wausau West...


I'm sorry, you're out. That means you, Verona, move onto the second round. But just barely.

Next up: Wisconsin Rapids vs. Green Bay Notre Dame.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The devil is in the details.

Ever wondered what happened if your left the "the" out of our URL? Well, wonder no more:

I bet you dollars to donuts this guy has 10x the web traffic than we do.


Note the subtle religious undertones, the cool quote, the inexplicable mountain imagery. This is the enigma that is Fond du Lac hockey. Color the Commissioner impressed.

Stand by for Fashion Breakdown 2013.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Commish Suffers Another Setback; Vows to Soldier On

Last night's rare three point outburst from the Commish in the Blackjacks' hardfought 5-2 victory over the Ice Devils did not come without a price: a jammed middle digit on his right hand.

The consequences of this injury cannot be overstated. Not only does this digit play an important role in the Commish's daily commute, but it is one of the four fingers he relies on exclusively when typing up Big Ice blog posts. The pain is exquisite. The typos endless. And the progress is slow.

Bear with me with me as we struggle through another challenge. In the immortal words of Owen Fenby: "That's hockey."

Injury or subtle message to the WIAA? You decide.