Tuesday, February 27, 2007

2007 Commissioner Awards: Best Player Names

Winner: BamBam Neiheisel, Green Bay United
First Runner Up: Talon Sharp, Sparta
Second Runner Up: Jimmy Panther, Milwaukee Marquette

Winner: Joe Check, Eau Claire North
First Runner Up: Brody Zebro, Mosinee
Second Runner Up: Mico Kakwitch, DePere

Winner (TIE): Ke' Alohi & Palani Apaukehau, Wisconsin Rapids
First Runner Up: Preston Stunkel, Park Falls
Second Runner Up: Bentley Geldard, Janseville

Winner: Gideon Hicks, Notre Dame Academy
First Runner Up: John Manydeeds, Chippewa Falls, McDonnell
Second Runner Up: Myles McTavish, Wausau West

Winner: Sean Hornyak, Neenah
First Runner Up: Spencer Blohowiak, DePere
Second Runner Up: Luke Trickle, Baldwin-Woodville

Winner: Braiden Sorgenfrei, Oconomowoc
First Runner Up: Grayson Hill-Boll, Waupaca
Second Runner Up: Cyril Foxpetrov, Madison West

Sparta (Ryan "Lie and" Pray, Ross LaVenture, Nick Ask, Hunter Shira, Kody Kamm)

Winner: Danny Boots, Hudson
Runner Up: Nicolo Baldarotta, SPASH

Winner (TIE): Jared Jasper, Chippewa Falls McDonnell; Kody Kamm, Somerset

Blayze Clapero, Park Falls

Barron West, Rice Lake
Jake Rock, Baldwin-Woodville
Nick Nicewanger, Tomah
Issac Sinz, Eau Claire Memorial
Jake Furey, Cedarburg
Jimmy D'Amour, Baraboo/Reedsburg

When Nerds Collide...

I'm not going to lie to you. Being Commissioner of the WHSHP is a lonely job, one fraught with stress, administrative nonsense, and dues-collecting (hint hint). But perhaps the most angst-ridden aspect of this office's labors is the sneaking suspicion that no one besides me cares about Wisconsin high school hockey. Sure, it's fun for the weekend warriors of this pool to bandy about names like Naga-waukee Park and Sheboygan, but, really, do the likes of Dan Krewson or Bob "Bilgepump" Hall really find themselves lying awake at night, wondering if Madison West could possibly pull of prep hockey's version of the Miracle on Ice?

I'm an old man, friends, and I won't lie to myself about the answer, but then along comes the following email string, leaked to me by someone who cares. I have deleted names and certain refertences to protect the friendless, but nevertheless, it's proof that there's others out there like me. And I love and respect every one of them.

God bless Wisconsin high school, gents. God bless us all.

Subject: Re: Madison West?!?
Sent: Monday, February 26, 2007: 2:16 PM
To: xxxx; xxxx@xxxx.xom
Fr: xxxx.xom

What I always find stirring about XXX's particular brand of obsession
is the level of detail. The research, the analysis, the hours pouring over every factoid...it's really commendable. Some would say sad, I say commendable.

Regarding Arrowhead, I too felt they were ripe for a fall. Still, their name is extremely cool, right up there with Tomahawk as one my favorites in the state. Happy to hear about Homestead becoming such a force. I wish XXX could play there someday but it looks like the best thing we have going in our area is a co-op club high school team with XXX high. Not much but it's a start.

-----Original Message-----
From: xxxx@xxx.com
To: xxx@xxx.com; xxx@xxx.com
Sent: Mon, 26 Feb 2007 8:16 AM
Subject: RE: Madison West?!?


Let me give you a bit of insight regarding the Homestead over Arrowhead prognostication from my perspective. Arrowhead was plain overrated.

* Homestead beat the Chiefs [sic] twice and lost once in head-to-head play this year.
* The Highlanders won a tough one on the road v Arrowhead taking the Arrowhead tournament early in the year.
* After dropping the second (regular season) meeting at the Mullet, Homestead took the final regular season match-up handily, 5-2.
* Said regular season finale loss for Arrowhead was just plain, bad Ju-Ju.
* Homestead won the D1 state football championship last year. This capped the state individual and team golf, boys track 4 X 100m relay, boys swimming 200m state championships. The girls were second in state for soccer and tennis. The school is flat out turning into an athletic factory.
* Arrowhead launched new uniforms this year, removing the old "powder blue" in favor of black accents. While the result is visual improvement, any true lover of tradition would view this as a bad move. You need to be a notch tougher to wear powder blue.

This is the fact-based decision making necessary to legitimately compete in the tourney pool. I may not win this year's competition, but I have certainly applied myself to the endeavor.

Couple of parting shots:

* There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of regarding this obsession. I nearly cried myself to sleep after G's OT loss to Oz. The prospect of not having a state tourney to attend was too much. The wife hasn't been playing lately either. XXX's physical abuse of the boys and this pool are all that keep me going.
* XXX, I told the General about our tight race and the fact that the only difference maker in the bracket was Appleton v Fondy. She said, "What is XXX thinking picking Appleton over Fond du Lac? Anyone from around here would favor FDL." She's on to something. Yes, your weather is good and the glass of Chardonnay you're holding right now isn't too shabby either. However, once in CA you lose touch with WI HS Hockey. You can't play "king of the hill" on the snowdrifts. Finally, pond hockey certainly is out of the question. I view these sacrifices a bit much compared with the payoff.
* XXX, I was in Red Wing MN prior to heading over to XXX. I related nearly every exit sign on my drive home to High School Hockey (Tomah, Sparta, Baraboo, Mauston, etc...). You have given me a serious illness!

-----Original Message-----
From: xxxx@xxx.com
To: xxx@xxx.com; xxx@xxx.com
Sent: Saturday, February 24, 2007 11:33 AM
Subject: Re: Madison West?!?

Edgewood just got their asses HUH-whipped, by a bunch a goddam nerds.

And all this has been the highlight off my life for about six years now.

-----Original Message-----
From: xxxx@xxx.com
To: xxx@xxx.com; xxx@xxx.com
Sent: Fri, 23 Feb 2007 9:20 PM
Subject: Madison West?!?

I don't get it. They're a bunch of goddamn NERDS!

And how did ya'll have the foresight to pick Homestead over Arrowhead???? That killed me. Arrowhead plays at the Mullet Center for cripes sake.

Is it wrong that this is the highlight of my Friday nights?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Commissioner Returns; Tries to Pick Up the Pieces

It took two trips to the Orlando airport, a trip to the ER after my son ran over my mother in a golf cart, and a taxi driver recently suspended from his day job for shooting a man trying to flee the Lady Luck county jail, but I have returned to the land of the connected. It's been a equally exciting week on the prep hockey rinks, so let's catch up, shall we?

Believe it or not, we are down to our Final Eight: six #1 seeds, one #2 seed, and a feel-good #5 seed, proof once again that while those with hearts may root for a Hodag, those with calculating minds can't go wrong sticking with the favorites. This mighty clash of titans is scheduled to take place on The Big Ice starting March 1, but already the titans of the hockey pool are jockeying for position.

For the first time in WHSHP history, Brian Kobylinski finds himself alone at the top of the Prediction Leaderboard, having finally shaken himself free of the needy clutches of brother-in-law Erik Moe. Fondy's surprisingly easy victory over Appleton United hurt Moe, but not as badly as it hurt one Peter Rudy, who now finds himself in the Loser Lounge slamming Korbel and Cokes with the bitter likes of Oliver Albrecht and Dylan DiBona.

But Koby can't afford to rest on his laurels, as the Girl Power Tandem of Juliana Cobb and Tracy DeLuca remain only a point behind. Koby, DeLuca and Cobb are the only participants to have successfully chosen six out of the eight finalists, so they remain odds-on favorites to battle tooth and nail for the 2007 crown.

If Eau Claire Memorial continues its campaign of utter destruction (they've outscored their competition 22-1 in the tourney), this office sees no one stopping Koby. But should the Old Abes stumble, look for DeLuca to follow in former champ Kapust's stiletto-heeled footsteps. While others surrendered to the siren call of statistics and abandoned their long running affiliation with the battle-tested Fondy Cardinals (are you listening, Misters Moe and Rudy?), DeLuca stuck by the red and white for a second straight year. And with Fondy having yet to allow a goal in this tourney, they look as formidable as Eau Claire Memorial, and certainly more powerful than Cobb's champion pick, the Kettle Moraine/Mukwonago Lasers.

Stand for daily status reports, plus some more Commissioner Awards, as we build up to the big day this Thursday.

Sectional Finals Recaps

1,300--count 'em--1,300 fans watch Superior secure another long trip south.
Superior vs. New Richmond Recap

Hey, you go 0-for-10 on the power play, you don't deserve to skate on The Big Ice.
Fondy vs. Appleton Recap

Not one, but two 10-minute penalties in the first period, and the Regents still win? Someone has sold their soul to the devil, and that someone is wearing blue and gold.
Madison West vs. Madison Edgewood Recap

Any team with a Coneheads line can't be all bad, even if they're from Eau Claire.
Eau Claire Memorial vs. Hayward Recap

Stevens Point jumps out to big lead, beats Indians at their own game.
SPASH vs. Mosinee Recap

Sin bin visits prove costly for Warhawks.
Homestead vs. Arrowhead Recap

Tomah rides Nicewanger to first trip to Big Ice (excuse the pun); DiBona in mourning.
Tomah vs. Wisconsin Rapids

Tristan Krause (no relation to Chip) keeps Cobb's title hopes alive.
KM/M vs. Catholic Memorial Recap

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Friday Recap

While The Commissoner remains trapped in his own little version of hell (a retirement village without Internet access), the hockey wars rage on. Furious Friday did little to break up the leader board, as Eau Claire Memorial and Superior continued their merciless march on Madison, winning 6-0 and 5-0, respectively. Kettle Morraine/Mukwonago lived up to its overhyped reputation, barely squeaking by the upstarts from Catholic Memorial.

In the night's other two tilts, Homestead routed Arrowhead, 5-2, much to the joy of Erik Moe, Koby, and Peter Rudy, who brilliantly foresaw that outcome. The same can't be said for former champ Aviva Kapust, who put all her marbles in a Hayward upset of ECM, and is now most likely knocked out of contention.

The big shocker Friday night was Madison West's defeat of the Cruskaters of Madison Edgewood. The Regents now find themselves heading to the Big Ice next week, a destination no one in this 35-person pool saw coming a week ago.

Taking a look at the leaderboard, we see that Erik Moe and Brian Kobylinski are still tied at 148 points a piece. Tonight's game between Fondy and Appleton will break up this unholy duo, plus the terrible troika occupying the silver medal position: Rudy, DeLuca, and Cobb. Stephens is still very much in the game, with 146, as are Knezevic, DiBona, and, believe it or not, Bisesto. (If Rapids makes a run, DiBona could steal the whole show.) Also don't count out Lee, the younger Moe, or the fetching Shauna Rudy, all of whom are on the plus side of 130 points.

The Commissioner's flight has been cancelled today, so updates might not be forthcoming until Monday morning. This office kindly suggests that pool participants interested in updates prior to then to get off their respective asses and click the leaderboard link for themselves. We thank you in advance for your consideration.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thursday Night Preview

Ladies and gentlemen, it is crunch time. A mere 15 points separates the top eleven participants in this year's pool and with each game in the fourth round of the tourney worth 8 points, it's still way too wary to declare a winner. Thursday night's action will go a long way toward thinning the herd, though, especially if the upsets keep coming. Here's who stands to win and lose in tomorrow evening's match ups.

Arrowhead vs. Homestead:
Erik Moe, Brian Kobylinski, and Peter Rudy stand to make a move if Homestead can pull off the upset, as they are the only contenders with the courage and foresight to put their faith in the Highlanders.

Eau Claire Memorial vs. Hayward
Only one person in the top 15 had the cajones to choose Hayward in this match up. And that person is Aviva "I Vant to Be Alone" Kapust. If the Hurricane can pull off the colossal upset, look for the former champ to make a late charge in the standings.

Superior vs. New Richmond
"Penny Loafer" Stephens, Rudy, Knezevic, DeLuca, and Cobb can gain some ground on Moe and Kobylinski if Superior picks up the expected win.

Madison Edgewood vs. Madison West
This is more than the rekindling of an old-time rivalry (see former Cruskaters Rudy and Moe crying into each other's mullets following an overtime lost to West in 1982); it's a chance for Moe and Kobylinski to deliver a potentially fatal blow to Stephens, Slim-Fast spokesmodel Knezevic, Jamie Moe, Kapust, Cobb, and the handsome sleeper Bisesto.

Breaking News: Landgraf Fires Himself

Anthony "Coach" Landgraf shocked the prep hockey pool world today when he announced via this forum's Trash Talk Corner that he had fired himself from the job as his Chief Prognosticator. The news followed a week of speculation after Landgraf saw a promising start quickly implode into yet another shameful mid-tourney disgrace. The latest rankings show him wallowing in 18th place, behind even drunken sex addict Nanuk Cathers. Later that day, Landgraf appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman to confirm the news. "As an art director, a husband, and a lover, I hold myself to the highest possible standards," Landgraf explained to a bemused Letterman. "The same holds true for my hockey pool. I've given myself three solid years to whip this ship into shape. The guys just weren't responding."

Tony "Coach" Landgraf discusses his recent self-termination with David Letterman.
An obviously shattered Landgraf offered no clues as to who would take over for himself. "Time cures everything," he mused. "Except for my flatulence." When Letterman pressed him about rumors that Landgraf might consider forming a co-op with another struggling pool veteran, Kevin R. Brown, the wily German was coy. "Co-ops have worked for Reedsburg and Baraboo. Why not Brown and Landgraf?" More details forthcoming as this story unfolds.

Prep Hockey World Knocked On Its Ear; Stephens Begins Predictable Fade

In an evening that featured this reporter holed up in a Disney hotel room shower stall far past midnight, impatiently awaiting final scores on his PDA (now that is dedication, folks), upsets, close calls, and impressive routs were the rule of the round, leaving the Prediction Leaderboard in a shambles.

Several top seeds struggled before notching a win Thursday night. Kettle Morraine/Mukwanago barely got by a scrappy Janesville squad, Superior had its hands full with Amery, and the Goliath-like Appleton United (student body of 4700) squad barely dispatched the Davids of Waupun (student body 740), 6-5.

Meanwhile, Madison West continued its unlikely march to the Big Ice, shocking #1-seed Sun Prairie, 3-1, while Catholic Memorial knocked off #2-seed Stoughton in a wild overtime game. 4-3. The Hudson Raiders also saw their season end prematurely, bowing to New Richmond, 2-1.

In other close games, the Madison Edgewood-Middleton rivalry lived up to its billing. The two incredibly even matched teams battled board-to-board for four periods before Edgewood took home the victory. Ditto for Homestead in a 6-5 overtime victory over defending champions University School.

All in all, a thrilling night's action, especially for Erik Moe and Brian Kobylinski, who find themselves on top of the leaderboard with 124 points a piece. Could this finally be Moe's year? Or is time our first ex-pat winner in the form of Koby? Both men's brackets are looking good; these kids obviously bet with their heads and not their hearts this year. The same can't be said for John Stephens, who went with his alma mater to beat Homestead, and is now playing the price in third place. But don't count out the preppie schoolmaster, as he still has several silver bullets in his bracket holster.

Three veteran participants hold down the silver medal slot. Juliana Cobb is proving to be anything but a one round wonder (see Tony "Coach" Landgraf), while compulsive gambler Tracy DeLuca has moved into bona fide contention with an amazing round's predictions. Peter Rudy, while the inspiration for balding, fat men everywhere, has a tenuous hold at best on a title run, as Stoughton's loss severely hampers his chances of remaining in the Top Ten after Thursday.

Dylan DiBona took the biggest plunge this round, perhaps a victim of his hasty selection process. He now finds himself mired all alone in 7th place, but a Rapids run could keep him around until the finals.

More details to follow after this reporter's brief sojourn to the Magic Kingdom. God help us all.

Monday, February 19, 2007

2007 Commissioner Awards: Best Team Logo

Runner Up: Eau Claire North Huskies

Powder blue is a tough color to work with (trust me), but Eau Claire North makes it work. I like the elegance and flow of the design, the way the colors come together to create a stoic profile befitting a proud dog or prep hockey player. I also like the fact that if you stare at this logo long enough, the white section starts to look like that kid from Mask.

Runner Up: Park Falls Cardinals

A deceptively simple design, the Park Falls Cardinal sets the standard by which all other bird-related logos are measured. Normally teams saddled with a lame name like this go with a humorless profile or rage. This bad boy is far more nuanced, almost psychotic. I love the Karate Kid pose, the raised talon, the flirty hips. Add a cartoon bubble to this bird and he could say almost anything, from a simple “Hi, ya!” to a more hockey-friendly “Take one step closer and you’ll be tripping over your own entrails.” That’s one complex bird.

Winner: Fon du Lac St. Mary’s Springs Ledgers

Not sure what a Ledger is but if this logo is any indication, I surmise it’s a Dutch word for “pickaxe-wielding meth cook.” This guy is literally hopping mad about that cabbage in his hand. Or real happy. Either way, you don’t want to go into the corner with him. A brilliant blend of fun and malice, just like the Missus.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Stephens Rides Yet Another Upset to Comfortable Lead; Decent People Nervous

Is there room for yet one more upset in the Regional Round? The Janesville Bluebirds apparently think so, knocking off #4-seed Oregon to complete a clean Friday night sweep for schoolmaster John Stephens. A quick look at the Prediction Leaderboard reveals Stephens now has a comfortable 4-point cushion on the surprising Dylan DiBona, who holds second place all by his lonesome. But don't count out this year's feel-good story, Juliana Cobb, still holding strong in third place with an impressive 75 points after two rounds of action. A crowd of contenders is hot on her heels, lead by--don't look now--defending champion Ivo Knezevic and a still fit John Rader.

On a sadder note, Tony "Coach" Landgraf continues his Icarus-like fall from contention, plummeting all the way to a 15th-place tie with "Skates" Davis. The poor kid seems bound to be the pool's version of Susan Lucci.

No more on-ice action until Tuesday, but you can bet you bottom dollar that this office will be checking in before then. Have a good weekend, fellow high school hockey fans. God knows you deserve it.

The Big Ice Adds Trash Talk Corner

The office has been receiving complaints about not being able to respond to personal attacks from fellow pool participants, so we've added a Tag Board right to the home page. Simply type in your name and message in spaces provided and your message will be there for all to see. (I think.)

Thursday Night Recaps

Rice Lake ends Eau Claire North's rocky season (in overtime, no less).
Rice Lake vs. Eau Claire North Recap

Hell, if I had known that Sparta's nickname was the Vipers, I would have picked them...
Onalaska vs. Sparta Recap

Cool Name Alert: Milwaukee Marquette has a player named Jimmy Panther. (Really.)
Milwaukee Marquette vs. Brookfield Recap

Neenah scores game winner with 14 seconds remaining.
Neenah vs. Sheboygan Recap

Stephens Breaks His Silence

From today's mailbag:
Please do not confuse my singularity of focus with “uncharacteristic sullen(ness)”. Over the past two years I have allowed myself to be distracted from the ultimate goal: fame, glory, 10,000 virgins and Wisconsin High School Hockey pool martyrdom. Two years ago I allowed myself to be lure upon the “Bracket Rocks” by the song of the cosmopolitan siren Aviva Kapust. Last year I took a huge psychological hit losing a late-bracket lead to the clearly limited, but scrappy blue-collar bracketeer, Ivo Knezevic. For the past year I have dedicated myself to this one cause. I will not let the vitriolic banter of perennial also-rans like Mr. Moe divert this focused, aerodynamic, svelte prognosticator from my destiny.

Behind the Scenes at the House of Lee

Everyone's favorite Art Director, Wayne Lee, may be struggling in this year's pool, but the man still knows how to roll in style. The Big Ice has obtained these exclusive photos of Wayne's latest addition to his extensive Star Wars collection. Both Lucas and Griffin Rudy have already appealed to the courts to be legally adopted by Mr. Lee, but this office vows to fight him with the intensity of a thousand Bright Moons of Bespin.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

UPSET THURSDAY IS OVER: Stephens Clings to Lead, Cobb & DiBona On His Tail (Figuratively, That Is)

It was long after evening vespers before Brookfield and Marquette settled their score, but all the Thursday night tallies are finally in, and this reporter is still panting like a wiener dog over what transpired. This, dear readers, is what Wisconsin high school hockey is all about: three more overtimes, five--count 'em--five more upsets, and a leaderboard turned topsy turvey by the tumult.

D.C. Everest, Rice Lake, Madison West, Onalaska, and Amery all recorded victories on enemy ice, while Marquette needed a couple extra sessions to put away the always scrappy Brookfield Stars. Meanwhile, number one seeds in every sectional sent a clear message to those hungering for more upsets, thrashing their lesser opponents by a combined scored of 53-6. Powerhouses like Eau Claire Memorial and Superior are surely on a collision course, and one can only dream of witnessing that violent ballet firsthand.

Speaking of violent ballets, take a look-see at who's making a move in the Prediction Leaderboard. A crafty and uncharacteristically sullen John Stephens retains his number one position, with a surprisingly strong Juliana Cobb still in second, but look who has joined her in the silver medal spot. That's right, despite a stunning lack of preparation, Dylan "Puck Mouth" DiBona has stumbled his way into contention. Also making a move are model-turned-accountant John Rader and dishwasher-turned-compulsive eater Peter Rudy, who both chime in with 63 points after a strong second round's predictions. A host of others remain in strong contention, with only newbie Chris Batty already mathematically eliminated, proof that it takes a lot more than a fleeting relationship with Lindsey Lohan to roll with the proud men and women of the Wisconsin High School Hockey Pool.

1John Stephens 70
2Dylan DiBona 65
3Juliana Cobb 65
4Peter Rudy 63
5Johnny Rader 63
6Erik Moe 62
7Brian Kobylinski 62
8Jaime Moe 61
9Ivo Knezevic 61
10Aviva kpaust 61
11Dan Krewson 60
12Chip Krauss59
13Tracy DeLuca 59
14Bill Bisesto 59
15Shauna Rudy 58
16Robert Hall 58
17Wayne Lee 58
18Jeff Kerrin 58
19Joe Marciniak 57
20Oliver Albrecht 55
21Andy Karofsky 55
22Dan "Pappy" Birrenkott 54
23Kevin Brown 54
24Greg Mills54
25Anthony Landgraf54
26Nanuk Cathers 54
27Robert Kelly 54
28John Waldschmidt 53
29Justin Courter 53
30Andrew "Skates" Davis 52
31Mark Jobson 51
32Tricky 49
33Mark Krajan 48
34Christopher Batty 42

Thursday Night Preview

Tonight we begin separating the men from the boys, the women from the girls, the crappie from the muskellunge. #5 seeds play #4 seeds in all eight sectionals, and some of the match-ups are simply too close to call. Believe me, I crunched the numbers, and a few of them came down to a coin toss.

Take the Sparta vs. Onalaska tilt taking place tonight on Sparta's home ice. A mere two places separate these squads in the latest KRACH Power Rankings and their two face-to-face matchups were incredibly close. Sparta won both match-ups by a goal, the last time in overtime. Any veteran of Wisconsin High School Hockey knows how difficult it is to beat a worthy opponent three times in one season. "Skates" Davis looks for Onalaska to rise to the occasion, while newcomer John Waldschmidt has all his marbles on Sparta making a long run.

Turn your attention to the Fox River Valley, where another much anticipated showdown awaits the followers of the Red Raiders of Sheboygan and the Rockets of Neenah. These two teams match up extremely well, with the lower seeded Sheboygan actually having beaten Neenah, 4-3, in their lone head-to-head competition this season. The Commissioner looks to Neenah to settle the score, despite his wife's penchant for chanting the name "Sheboygan" while making love.

Finally, look for more feather to fly at the Eagle's Nest tonight, as the Janesville Co-op takes on the Oregon Panthers in a Sectional 7 Regional Game. Led by Coach Tony Renlund, the Oregon program has made great strides in the past few years. Janesville, led by Joe McCann (l) and George Cullen, is still riding on the fumes of their remarkable playoff run two seasons ago, but this office thinks Oregon will prevail in a hard-fought board-to-board battle.

Look for a big shake-up in the Leaderboard tomorrow morning folks. Me thinks there may be a few new names in the mix. Don't want to give too much away, but I think one of those names will rhyme with Rudy.

Welcome, Rookies!

The Commissioner's Office is pleased to welcome nine rookie participants to this year's pool. In the spirit of togetherness that is the 2007 Wisconsin State High School Hockey Pool, let's take a moment to get to know our fellow gambler:

Dan "Pappy" Birrenkott

Once proud captain of the Edgewood High School Cruskaters, now an even prouder Lt. Colonel in the United States Air Force. When not defending our god-given right to place petty wagers on high school hockey, this man spends his day defending his decision to choose Northland Pines to win it all.
John Waldschmidt

Pity poor John Waldschmidt. Imagine spending eight hours every day in the same cube with a man obsessed with high school hockey. It's like listening to the same Boston track over and over and over again. Sadly, John's spirit was broken in time to sign up for this year's tourney. Welcome, John!

Justin Coulter

Great photographer, even better dancer, Justin overheard this reporter chatting up a steamfitter in Council Bluffs, Iowa about his son's chances of making the Wichita Thunder, and soon fell under the spell that is Wisconsin High School Hockey. Also answers to the name Drunk E. Drunkerson.

Mark Jobson

An eternal optimist, Mr. Jobson is hoping a strong showing in this year's pool will make fellow McCanners forget his disappointing season as clean-up hitter for the company softball team. Famous for his eerily accurate portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in an Oakland A's television spot.
Greg Mills

Greg is a wily maverick, a Renaissance man who has yet to make peace with his questionable choice of vocation. A big fan of meat products and Danzig, Greg's own blog is always a shattering read.
Jeff Kerrin

Careful, ladies, this guy speaks French.
Chris Batty

A disarmingly charming ne'er do well, Mr. Batty hails from the trendiest part of Manhattan, where several models and at least one B-list celebrity secretly hope a good thumping in this year's pool will take the edge off his cocky swagger.

Joe Marciniak

A talented creator of surreal Star Wars-inspired landscapes, Joe found his meander through this year's brackets a surprisingly emotional experience, as he continually came across names and places that brought back memories of his happy childhood in the Midwest. (Except for that one flashback brought on by the mention of Antigo. Never ask Joe about Antigo.)

Bob Kelly

Sadly, no photo yet available for Robert, which is a shame, since I've been told he's easy on the eyes. Proud graduate of George Washington University, Bob is blessed with the ability to grow a full-bodied beard in less than seven hours.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday Round-Up: Four OTs, Three Upsets, One Great Start

This, dear friends, is why they play the games. Several undermanned squads gave it their all last night, pushing higher-seeded teams to their limits. Special shouts out go to the Waupaca Comets, Merrill Bluejays and, of course, the Beaver Dam Golden Beavers for reminding us that there's no Q-U-I-T in H-O-C-K-E-Y.

That said, three underdogs created their own Miracles on Ice last night. First stop: Sectional 2's Bay Area Civic Center in Ashland, where the 9th-seeded Medford Area Raiders upset one of the great names in high school hockey, the Ashland Oredockers, in a thrilling 3-2 overtime tilt.

Next stop: Sectional 4, the Green Island Ice, to be more specific, where the #10-seeded Wisconsin Dells/Mauston Chiefs (kudos for not bowing to the PC police) took the #7-seeded LaCrosse Logan/Central Red Rangers into overtime, and won! A surprising number of pool prognosticators picked this one, further proof that my weekend spent crunching the numbers on this tourney was truly wasted.

Speaking of wasted, you can bet there's plenty of people calling in sick today in bucolic Verona, where feathers flew in the Eagle's Nest as 11th-seeded Sauk Prairie pulled off a shocking 3-1 victory over the #6-seeded Wildcats. Still awaiting a box score on this one, but you can bet Coach Dan Endres won't have to pay for a drink any time soon in Prairie du Sac. Congratulations, Eagles!

But the surprises don't stop there. Look who's occupying four of the top five positions on the Prediction Leaderboard! Sure, a wily John Stephens is no surprise in the top spot (don't worry, he'll fade) but right behind him stand four major surprises. Bill Bisesto may have made the leap client-side, but his game has apparently made a leap of its own. He holds the number two spot along with Juliana Cobb. And what's this? The too-cool-for-school Greg Mills in third place with 20 points? This guy picked Germantown to reach the finals, for Cripe's sakes. Crazy times. A front runner for the esteemed Most Improved Predictor Award has to go to Tony "Coach" Landgraf, currently tied with Mills, Bob "Bilgepump" Hall, and Wayne Lee at 20 points a piece. The days when Landgraf picked Wapuaca to go all the way are long forgotten. This kid has walked a long stretch down the Avenue of Hard Knocks, and apparently picked up some major hockey insight along the way.

1John Stephens 22
2Bill Bisesto 21
3Juliana Cobb 21
4Greg Mills20
5"Coach" Langdraf 20
6Robert Hall 20
7Wayne Lee 20
8Dylan DiBona 19
9Jaime Moe 19
10Ivo Knezevic 19
11Aviva Kapust 19
12Erik Moe 18
13Brian Kobylinski 18
14Mark Krajan 18
15Dan Krewson 18
16Peter Rudy 17
17Joe Marciniak 17
18Andy Karofsky 17
19Dan "Pappy" Birrenkott 16
20Kevin Brown 16
21Christopher Batty 16
22Tricky 15
23Oliver Albrecht 15
24Chip "Toes" Krauss 15
25Tracy DeLuca 15
26Justin Courter 15
27Johnny Rader 15
28Shauna Rudy 14
29Andrew "Skates" Davis 14
30Jeff Kerrin 14
31John Waldschmidt 13
32Nanuk Cathers 12
33Robert Kelly 12
34Jobson 11

The Final Say on This Matter

Dear Fellow Participants in the 2007 Wisconsin High School Hockey Pool:

While I don’t make it a habit to respond to vitriolic attacks from riff raff like one Erik Moe, I feel the events of this day warrant a final say on the matter. Mr. Moe questions my decision to allow Ms. Kapust to participate in this year’s pool, and in doing so, also calls into question my integrity and my commitment to my wife and family. He wonders if I would have accorded Misters DiBona or Stephens that same courtesy, had they been the ones mentally challenged enough to fill out the brackets for an entirely different pool, featuring entirely different participants, in an entirely different state.

My answer? Hell, no, Mr. Moe.

Why? Because, dear sir, they have yet to earn it. Say what you want about Kapust’s questionable commitment to the game or her expensive shoes, but the woman has done something the pasty, follically challenged likes of you can only dream of, and that is win a Wisconsin High School Hockey Pool title. With that honor come some perks currently unavailable to the wannabes of this pool, and I’d like to think we all have the maturity and sportsmanship to recognize that.

These are the final words I shall speak on this matter, for I deplore the manner in which this controversy has distracted the readers of this blog from the kids who have made it possible. As we quibble about these petty jealousies, minor miracles like the 11th-seeded Sauk Prairie Eagles’ victory over the Verona Wildcats are being pushed out of the spotlight. I, for one, shan’t stand for it. I ask God to bless you, Mr. Moe. And to continue to bless Wisconsin High School Hockey. That is all.

Sincerely yours in The Foil, I am
The Commissioner

Controversy Won't Die; Commissioner's Integrity Questioned

Commissioner still fielding calls of protest from around the country. Perpetual bridesmaid Erik Moe rings in with this puling missive:
You expect something like this from a rookie like Kelly, but a two-year veteran and former champion like Aviva Kapust?!! Come on! One wonders if Commissioner has been moved by justice or by the winsome smile displayed in her blog picture? One also wonders if the same leniency would have been afforded to pasty, overweight veterans such as John Stephens or Dylan DiBona had they batted their eyelashes or flashed a little leg?
The issue had died down until this undated photo appeared on the Internet, fueling rumors that Miss Kapust was anything but heartbroken by her "innocent mistake." Investigation continues, but a spokesman for The Commissioner urges pool participants to let go off their anger. "Remember the kids," he said to a phalanx of reporters outside the Old Ship Saloon. "It's all about the kids."

Controversy Mars First Day of Tourney: Kapust Stirs the Pot...Again

In an unprecedented move further underscoring rumors of instability and an unsound mind, past Pool champion Aviva Kapust has apparently registered for the wrong Wisconsin High School Hockey Pool. (Yes, there are other Wisconsin High School Hockey Pools out there, if you can believe it.) A grief-stricken Kapust has thrown herself at the mercy of this Commissioner, and after carefully perusing her hand-written brackets, along with the brackets of another confused but honorable rookie, Bob Kelly, this office has allowed both to enter this year's pool as members in good standing. Stand by for a new leader scoreboard, as well as updates from a truly exciting first night's action. That is all.

2007 Pool Sets New Registration Mark, Despite Technical SNAFUs

Who said hockey's popularity is waning? This year's pool has drawn a record 34 participants in seven states. See the map above for visual proof of all the lives and locales being touched by those brave boys and girls who strap on the blades in honor of their schools, their communities, and their God.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Breaking News from Sheboygan!

This has absolutely nothing to do with Wisconsin High School Hockey but when you haul in a sturgeon this big, who cares? Holy cow! Perhaps it's a sign from God that Sheboygan is going to make some noise this year. Stay tuned.

The 2007 Commissioner Awards: Worst Team Logo

With only two hours to go before the 2007 Wisconsin State High School Hockey Tourney begins on the hallowed ice of the Madison Ice Arena, I know everyone's nervous. I for one am finding it extremely hard to focus on my work or my family, so I thought it might ease everyone's nerves to announce the winners in the always competitive Worst Logo Design category in this year's Commissioner Awards. Stay tuned for more winners, and losers, as the Tourney progresses...

Second Runner-Up: Beaver Dam Golden Beavers

In these politically correct times of Eagles and Panthers, it's truly an honor to take the ice as a Golden Beaver. But this is the best logo they could come up with? Talk about your wasted opportunities. It's like getting a night off from the kids and using it to clean out your fridge.
First Runner-Up: Onalaska Hilltoppers

Not sure what a Hilltopper is, but I'm pretty sure his wardobe needs an upgrade. My sainted aunt, would you follow this guy into battle? The only place I'd follow him is into The Stud, and that's only after a bucketful of Red Bull and vodka.
Winner: Hayward Hurricanes

This logo has two fatal flaws. One, this office has long held that team logos should be a natural extension of a school's proud history. [See the Oredockers of Ashland, for example, or the Granite Diggers of Mellen City or, to the south, the Wooden Shoes of Teutopolis (IL).] Let's face it, the closest you're going to come to a Hurricane in the Northwoods of Wisconsin is by ordering one at Waynamo's Wildlife Bar & Museum out on County Road B. Then there's the design. What the heck is going on with this fella ? He looks like me the morning after chasing three lamb gyros with a pitcher of Blatz.

More viewer mail

Many of you have complained about the lag time in seeing your name immediately posted on the BracketMaker leaderboard. Rest assured that this is a necessary feature designed to ensure that our little affair remains a classy affair. I'm sure no one wants to repeat the awkwardness of having to etch a name like Mr. Smegma onto the hallowed surface of the Big Ice Cup. If any of you doubt the wisdom of this editorial decision, I direct your attention to the following missive from pool veteran (and 2002 champion) Chip "Toes" Krauss. Put simply, the good people at BracketMaker are simply protecting us from ourselves...
Dear Commissioner:
Why is taking so f***ing long to figure whether there's any g*****n profanity or s*** in my hockey picks? What kind of a******s are you that you that can't figure it out in two f*****g minutes? How do I know if that's my username up there, or whether my picks are in at all? Also, why isn't there more hoopla around my 2002 victory? WTF?
We thank you for your interest in Wisconsin High School Hockey, Mr. Krauss.

Today's Pearl of Wisdom...

From Wausau East Coach Dan Bauer, compliments of our friends at Wisconsin Prep Hockey:
The scoreboard for character doesn’t come with neon lights and Pepsi ads. It’s measured in the number of youngsters you help turn into responsible and productive adults. You won’t find that scoreboard in the sports page or on the ten o-clock news. It is the coaching scoreboard—and in reality, it is the one that matters most.
Coaches: 1, The Mean Streets of Wausau: 0

Monday, February 12, 2007

Man, Woman, or Hodag; we're all role models...

Don't think hockey pool pioneers like Juliana Cobb, Aviva Kapust, Renee Crawshaw, and Tracy DeLuca are making a difference? Behold these adorable snapshots sent in by pool veteran Brian Kobylinski, featuring daughter Greta and the rest of her Winter Club Wildcats. Don't let the sweet smiles fool you; these girls are holy terrors on the ice, sweeping the 3-game bracket at the U12 tourney in Stevens Point by a combined score of 22-1. To borrow a phrase from Oprah, "You go, girls!"

Friday, February 9, 2007

Let the trash-talking begin...

[Editor's Note: Two-time participant OLIVER ALBRECHT has fired the first shot across the prow of those honorable souls privileged enough to have once donned the sweater of an actual Wisconsin High School Hockey team. Be warned, though, this kid is crazy like a fox, once riding the Antigo Red Robins to a mid-tourney lead in the standings, so I'd be careful how you respond to this ex-P.I./ex-Marine/ex-flower salesman.]
Hockey, Schmockey
To contribute to the trend of posting childhood pictures in full hockey uniforms, I submit this entry.

Wait a minute...that’s right, I don’t have any macho hockey pics. Some of us didn’t have time for such trivial activities like playing around with sticks and rubber disks. I had to go out with my shotgun and kill defenseless animals just to put pâté de foie gras and hassen pfeffer on the table.

But am I bitter? Well, yeah, a little. Okay, a lot. But winning this stinking pool will make some of the voices in my head go away. So I’m aiming my Winchester right for you privileged hockey vets and I’m taking you down.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Let's Play Hockey!

The office of the WSHSHP, LLC, is proud to announce that this year's brackets are online and ready for your prognostication! While it initially takes a little effort on your part, this effort is nothing compared to the blood, sweat, and teeth these fearless boys and girls have shed over the course of the 2006-2007 campaign. This reporter hopes you'll remember their sacrifice before sending your whining emails to his attention.

In an effort to aid even the most technically illiterate schoolmasters in Fort Worth, Texas, I have made participation as easy as possible.

If you're a pool veteran and can remember the email you used last year, all you have to do is click on link below and log on. Even if you're forgotten last year's password, the site will send you a new one.

New participants will have to register after clicking on the "Predict It!" button.

2007 Wisconsin Hockey Pool

REMEMBER: The deadline for registration is Tuesday, February 13 at 3:30 P.M. (PST)

One entry per participant, please.

Where Are They Now? Q&A with '05 Champ, Aviva Kapust

More than just a winsome smile, hockey handicapper Aviva Kapust shocked the WHSHP world two seasons ago, when she came out of nowhere to capture the '05 cup. Perhaps even more shocking was her refusal to defend her crown on '06. Her absence from the '06 field, along with her admittedly extremely close relationship with Paris Hilton, sparked rumors of performance-enhancing drug use, and Ms. Kapust quickly slipped back into the obscurity from whence she came. That is, until macho posturing by several '06 participants called her out. Well, friends, Ms. Kapust has answered that call, and then some. We caught up with her as she pored over this year's brackets and asked her a few questions.

BI: Aviva, you were the first woman to win the pool. Tell us what that means to you and to your sex in general.
AK: To be accurate, I was the first PERSON to win the pool. It was a defining moment in my long career of hockey betting— instantly my status of Puck Bunny went to full fledged Black Ace.
[Editor's Note: Miss Kapust is misinformed. '07 marks the Fifth Annual WSHSHP. Past champions include Andrew Karofsky (03) and Peter Rudy (04).]

Ms. Kapust celebrates her 2005 win with (from L to R) son Dylan DiBona, former husband Jeff Kerrin, Commissioner Peter Rudy, and unknown guest.
BI: You caused quite a controversy when you chose not to defend your title in 2006. Were you making a statement?
AK: After my winnings were withheld for weeks on end I realized I could no longer rely on the hockey pool as my sole means of income so I took a job working on the Microsoft Office 2007 campaign. Things haven’t been the same since.

BI: Has the win opened any doors for you, personally or career-wise? Do you feel people take you a little more seriously?
AK: I get free stuff wherever I go now. For example, Anthony "Coach" Landgraf brings me a fresh glass of water every hour hoping that I might impart on him a bit of my sports betting know-how. I had to break the news to him that my I can no longer share pointers now that I’ve decided to get back into the action.

BI: Why did you choose Superior to win the 2005 title?
AK: I thought they were the best looking team. I like to keep things simple.

BI: What did you do with your winnings?
AK: I think it had something to do with whisky but I can’t be sure.

BI: What advice would you give to other pool participants who lack a through understanding of the intricacies of Wisconsin high school hockey.
AK: Go with your instincts and if all else fails go with the best mullett.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

For you early birds...

Our online brackets are not ready yet. Still hoping my man in Portland can get me something today. But for those of you eager to get started on your predictions, you can access the seeded brackets here. Links to power rankings, etc. are listed in the right hand column of this page.

God speed to all of you.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

A Champion Looks Back

When reached at his rural Sun Prairie home, 2006 WSHSHP Champion Ivo Knezevic became visibly shaken when asked to look back on his all-too-brief reign. Clutching a game jersey from his days as a star tailback for the Boston Minutemen, he composed himself enough to provide these meandering thoughts:
I just want to tell you how excited I am to defend my crown. The last year has been a blur. After winning, my life was changed forever. I'll never forget the victory parade around the hallowed old neighborhood of Applewood. Even though my dad's riding lawn mower stalled, it was still a great day. I'm sorry for the outbreak of cold sores for those who drank from the cup. After singing the national anthem at the Sharks game, those weren't boos, the crowd was saying "wooo", I was whisked to Algoma where I judged a cow-tipping contest. Everyone in the streets of Algoma seemed to recognize me and covet my win. The tournament also provided me with a Rice Lake cheerleader/nanny. We're very happy in our one-room apartment overlooking the arena. As far as judging the "Alice in Dairyland" pageant, I can assure the tabloids are wrong and the accusations false. She wanted to win, so I let her [on advice of my lawyer the what follows has been removed]. Anyhoo, my eyes are wet as I write this. I can only hope the next winner does as much to forward the image of Wisconsin High School Hockey as I did.
We all share in that hope, Mr. Knezevic. Well said.