Saturday, March 14, 2009

Commissioner Comes Out of Hiding, Answers Critics

After a week of furor following Tracy DeLuca's controversial return to the Wisconsin High School Hockey Pool throne, Commissioner Peter Rudy made a brief and sometimes emotional appearance Saturday morning before a small gathering of reporters who have set up camp outside his rural San Rafael manor.

Rudy has been under fire since DeLuca earned her second WSHSP throne, this time without correctly predicting the state champion. It was an unprecedented result that has left many pool participants questioning the judgment and math skills of the erratic commissioner, who introduced a new scoring system in this year's competition that awarded bonus points for upsets and witheld doubling point totals until the tourney's third round.

In the closest competition in the history of the tourney, DeLuca eeked out a two-point victory over Oliver Albrecht, one of only two known pool participants to choose the bearded War Hawks of Arrowhead to take the title. The second, Mark Krajan, joined DeLuca and Albrecht on the medal stand when Arrowhead thumped the Fondy Cardinals, 5-1, in the Dairyland showdown's final contest.(The third pool participant to choose Arrowhead, one Evan O., has never come forth to identify himself.)

In a move that offended as much as it inspired, Albrecht and Krajan held up wavering fists during the playing of the national anthem during DeLuca's medal presentation, a show of defiance that has seared a deep divide between brothers, counties, and arenas across Wisconsin. Hockey purists see Albrecht and Krajan as folk heroes, while others have labelled them as petulant whiners who don't know a red line from a chorus line.

Looking fatigued and poorly showered, Rudy answered critics with the same determination and forthrightness that has won him legions of admirers in the past, insisting that the best prognosticator win the 2009 competition.

"Hear me and hear me well," bellowed the portly Rudy. "Anyone, even a drunken Mark Krajan, can pick a number one seed to go all the way in the state bracket. But does that person deserve to call him or herself a champion? I dare say not."

Rudy went on to show a defty crafted PowerPoint presentation highlighting some of the questionable bracket choices made by Albrecht and Krajan, choices that cast serious doubts on their claims to the title. Highlights include Albrecht choosing #7 seed Chippewa Falls to beat #2 seed Rice Lake and Krajan's inexplicable choice of #7 seed Baraboo/Reedsburg making it all the way to its Sectional Final.

"The best participant won," Rudy concluded. "One of the reasons for this year's scoring changes was to ensure that the award goes to the person who correctly chooses the majority of winners in the two-week competition. This year Miss DeLuca was that person. And I salute her."

Voice wavering with emotion, Rudy went on to extol the virtues of his new scoring system. "America has always been a land of opportunity. So is this pool, which is and forever shall be a bastion of equality in its purist, most sacred form, a place where anyone, even an erratically employed copywriter from San Francisco, can look herself in the mirror and say, 'I am a WSHSP champion.'"

Rudy then began weeping and was quickly escorted off the dais by his wife and two children, one of whom made an obscene gesture at a cameraman and apparently kicked him in the groin.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Albrecht Declares Himself People's Champ, Controversy Rages

Damn it, this was MY year….

The economy is shit, my 401k is shrinking like A-Rod’s testicles, and the value of my home is deteriorating faster than its 100-year old foundation. All that would’ve been okay if my name would’ve made it onto the brass plaque of the faux-wood WSHSHP trophy. But rules had to be changed. Certain forces had to be appeased.

I proclaim myself the People’s Champ.

I shall return.

Oliver Albrecht

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Title Game Recap: Arrowhead 5, Fondy 1

Nick "King" Kohn celebrates another dominating performance, while record-shattering teammate Brian Berger celebrates the fact that he can already grow a beard.
It took one of its local teams winning the state title to do it, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel finally covered a prep hockey game. Sure, that may sound bitter, but you didn't just spend several hours pulling weeds out of your front lawn, did you? Bastards.

Day 2 Recap: Fondy 4, Rice Lake 2

Okay, now Rice Lake is just playing with my head. They're back to the initial jersey design, and it works for much of a hard-fought game with Fond du Lac. But a power play goal late puts away the Warriors and the Cards advance to title game against a red-hot Arrowhead.

Visual Confirmation that No One But Me Cares About Wisconsin High School Hockey

I've seen bigger gatherings at a Hug-Your-Banker rally.

Day 2 Recap: Arrowhead 6, Superior 2

The Shake and Bake Line combines for 12 points (!!!) to leave the Spartans' heads hanging low.

Now this is the Superior High School Ice Dance Team

Never doubt me again.

Again, note the empty seats in the background. Sigh.

Arrowhead Rides Brian Berger's Natural Hat Trick to Dominating Win Over Fondy

Yeah, yeah, depth is a great thing. But when you have a line as awesome as Arrowhead's "Shake & Bake Line" of Conner McBride, Brian Berger and David Clark, you could have a javelina in goal and still take home the title. But King Cohn is no javelina, either. Arrowhead simply hands down the best team in Madison this weekend, outscoring their competition 15-3 on their way to first ever state title.

Well played, War Hawks. Expect a gift basket of struedel and scotch eggs from Oliver Albrecht.

Friday, March 6, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: DeLuca Wins 2nd WSHSHP Title, Joins Kapust as Only Two-Time Winner

A stunned Commissioner's Office announced this evening that Tracy DeLuca has once again earned the title of Wisconsin State High School Hockey Pool Champion. Even if Arrowhead beats Fondy tomorrow in the championship game, Oliver Albrecht will fall a heartbreaking two points behind DeLuca's current total of 137.

It was devastating news for the Albrecht camp, who had the fortitude to choose an Arrowhead squad that no one else seemed to notice--along with the foolishness to choose Chippewa Falls over Rice Lake in the regionals. (Still don't think those early match-ups aren't important, folks?) But Albrecht can still notch his best showing ever with a War Hawk victory tomorrow.

Meanwhile, cheers are ringing out in the Tenderloin, where enthusiastic supporters of DeLuca are lighting police cars on fire, stabbing the occasional hobo, and chanting, "Trace-Three!" in an apparently half-assed attempt to create a three-peat saying that rhymes with her name.

More details to follow when this office announces the final standings on the morrow. Until then, congratulations, Ms. DeLuca! And God Bless Wisconsin High School Hockey!

Fondy 4, Rice Lake 2: FINAL SCORE

Day 1 Recap: Rice Lake 1, Verona 0

First of all, Rice Lake pulled a fast one on us, rolling out an away jersey design far different then the home version we used in the pre-game analysis. But they had even more weapons up their sleeves: a smothering defense, a few lucky bounces, and a nifty set-up by Trae Tyler to Trae Coleman. Rice Lake hands Verona its first shutout of the year, but it's a painful one.

Day 1 Recap: Fondy 6, Stevens Point 3

Despite the Commissioner changing his mind and awarding Stevens Point the better uniform design, the Panthers are no match for the Cardinals of Fond du Lac. This one was even more one-sided than the score indicates. Watch out for DeLuca; she's on a roll!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Not crazy about all those empty seats in the background. Wonder what attendance is like this year.

Day 1 Recap; Superior 4, Stoughton 1

Stoughton scores first and holds that lead until late in the third, despite constant pressure by Superior. Forty-odd minutes and several pipe ringers later, Spartans explode for four goals in final five minutes to seal another trip to the semi-finals.

Day 1 Recap: Arrowhead 4, Onalaska 0


Brawn beats finesse as Arrowhead Goalie Nick "King" Kohn makes 18 saves to blank the high flying Hilltoppers in opening game of the Final Four.

Fondy Ties It Up, End Cernick's 61 Minutes of Shutout Hockey

Rice Lake Draws Blood First

Kody Novinska scores on power play at 4:49 of first period.

Someone Turn Up Coach's Microphone!

What, is he doing color commentary from the bathroom?

Arrowhead Destroys Superior, 6-2; Albrecht Makes His Move

This one was over early, folks, and color this reporter surprised.

BREAKING NEWS

Superior Dance Team now performing a routine to "Can't Touch This."

Arrowhead Comes Out Charging, Leading Superior 2-0 Halfway Thru First

Superior gets in penalty trouble early. War Hawks makes them pay.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Race Heats Up, Knezevic Exposes His Flank, DeLuca Notices

Sadly, this is not the first time Knezevic has exposed his flank, but more on that later.
After an exciting day's competition that featured four games fought on an ice surface that deteriorated faster than my will to live on any Monday at the office, the leaderboard shows Ivo Knezevic clinging to first place with 128 hard-earned points.

But don't go drinking the slivoitz just yet, Mr. Duke. A quick look at the brackets shows you selecting Middleton to defeat Fond du Lac manana, a temporary lapse in reason that has not escaped the notice of Tracy DeLuca, who is in sole possession of 2nd place with 121 points but more importantly has both Superior and Fondy advancing in her brackets tomorrow.
Tracy DeLuca likes what she sees on tonight's leaderboard.
The tag team of Eric Mott and Analisa Rudy are right behind Deluca with 115 points, a strong showing for a couple beset by problems caused by a schizophrenic dachshund. But their hard luck continues here, as they don't have enough picks in the tank to overtake Knezevic.

What what really would shake things up tomorrow is an Arrowhead victory over Superior. You have to search all the way back to the #35 slot to find someone on the leaderboard who chose Arrowhead to advance. And that person is the cagey veteran Oliver Albrecht. Believe it or not, folks, if Arrowhead wins two more games, he could make up the yawning gap between his sorry ass and Ivo's heavily Pilated one.

So there you have it: Two former champions scratching and clawing to see who will join Aviva Kapust as a two-time winner on one of sport's most hallowed trophies.



This Just In: Alliant Center Ice a Steaming Pile of Shit

Aren't you glad the WIAA worked a long-term deal with this hell hole? I've seen better ice on my windshield.

Travesty.

Big Ice Breakdown #4: Rice Lake vs. Verona

DOWNTOWNS
Familiarity breeds contempt so it's hard for me to look at Verona through the fresh eyes of a wild-eyed hockey enthusiast. The good people of Verona do throw a great Hometown USA Days, but when I think of Verona from my sunny perch in San Francisco, the only visions I can conjure consist of an endless sea of housing developments, a golf course, and the stench of dead skunk that seems to permanently hang over the intersection between Highway M and Mid-Town Road. Nothing flashy here, folks. But nothing to complain about, either. Just a solid community where the schools are good, the roads are well-maintained, and the frozen custard is so damn delicious you don't even notice your man-breasts swaying like the teats on a pre-tipped cow.

Hey, Mayor Fitzgerald, out of the way! You're blocking my view of the the greatest drinking establishment in Northern Wisconsin. Is that the Boogie King of Iowa City in the background?
On the other hand, this humble reporter spent one of the greatest nights of his life in the metropolitan Rice Lake area, one that involved several names prominently featured on this year's leaderboard. (Gentlemen, you know who you are.) Humility (and a shaky marriage) prevents me from dispensing all the details, suffice to say it involved an impromptu dance-off at Smitty's On Main, a Jennie-O turkey processing plant employee named Loretta, and a bucket of Slippery Nipples. Oh, and a rubber Nixon mask. Rice Lake is also widely known for having the freshest drinking water in all of Wisconsin, not to mention some excellent ice-fishing opportunities.

ADVANTAGE: RICE LAKE

NOTABLE CITZENS
Speed skater Casey Fitzrandolph (left) and rising NHL hockey star Phil Kessel hail from Verona, while Rice Lake just announced that native son William M. Conley (right) is among 13 applicants under consideration for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin. We're going to have to give the nod to Verona on this one.
ADVANTAGE: VERONA

MASCOT/LOGO:
We've got a Warrior (Rice Lake) vs. a Wildcat (Verona). Rice lake goes with a no-nonsense literal translation that's almost boring enough to be cool. Almost. Verona goes with the tired paw print, which is at least better than the depiction of an actual cat. I mean, who wants to see that? I'm going to have to give this one to Verona, for at least trying.
ADVANTAGE: VERONA

PLAYOFF PEDIGREE
The Warriors are making their second appearance on The Big Ice, their first since 1980. Verona is make for a third try, all of them coming after Reagan was in the White House.
ADVANTAGE: VERONA

CONFERENCE NAMES
Big Rivers (Rice Lake) vs. Big Eight (Verona). The Bigs cancel out each other, and a body of water is ALWAYS cooler than a number, unless we're talking about the number of women who have had the excellent fortune to call me lovemaker and friend. (Are you listening, Loretta?)
ADVANTAGE: RICE LAKE

COOL NAMES
What an interesting clash of naming styles. On the Rice Lake side, you have outright coolness: Barron West (tell me he doesn't already have a date for the Prom), Derek Robarge, Trae Tyler, Gunnar Olson, Tyler Kilcoyne, Tanner Cernick. My God, the Warrior roster reads like the VIP list at a Whitesnake concert. On the Verona side, they go with a more quirky approach. David Hackbarth has the same initials as Dusty Hackbart, but that an a bus pass will get you a ride to the Alliant Center. But what about Dr. Seuss inspiration Chris Borgerding? Or Zach Didd? Did someone say Pickering Ryan is in the house? Bonus points for taking some chances, Verona parents, but is your temerity enough to win this hotly contested category? Does the Commissioner like singular mascot names?
ADVANTAGE: RICE LAKE

UNIFORM DESIGN
At first I was delighted with Rice Lake's uniform design, but I think it was more a case of seeing something new. Having slept on it, there's nothing really wrong with Rice Lake's layout, but there's nothing really right with it, either. Not a lot of imagination going on with the logo, for one, though kudos for resisting the age-old temptation to convert the L into a hockey stick. Verona suffers from the dreaded Make the Logo Bigger Syndrome, but the piping on the waist and elbows is to die for. So tasteful, So elegant. And you really have to love the color balance. The logo really pops on the white home jersey when the pawprint is the only orange item (other than the shoulder numbers). All in all it's pretty solid.
ADVANTAGE: VERONA

Wow, this one is close. But I think Verona wins enough intangibles to warrant their favored status in this evening's game. The verdict?

Verona 3, Rice Lake 1

Your Commissioner Just Received a Shout Out!

That's right, they just read MY name on the LIVE broadcast of the Wisconsin High School Hockey Tournament.

I can now die a happy man.

Can You Erik Moe Shrieking?

Listen carefully. That high-pitched shriek that you thought was just ringing in your ears? It's Erik Moe, once again watching his dreams curl and wither like the pages of another unsold movie treatment.

Superior 3, Stoughton 1 -- time running out.

Brian Kobylinski: BEST HIRE EVER

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Superior High School Ice Dancing Team...

CORRECTION: This is not the Superior High School Ice Dancing Team. Dylan, cancel my reservation at the Holiday Inn, Downtown Superior. And I won't be needing the video camera, either.

Stoughton Clinging to Lead, Superior Pouring It On

Stoughton's Martin standing on his head, literally. The pipes have saved him a handful of times. Haven't heard this much metal ringing since my days as the glockenspiel player in the Edgewood High School Band.

Stoughton 1, Superior 0--midway through the third.

Stoughton Up, 1-0, After 1st

Beware the hot goalie, Spartans. This one could be a shocker.

Big Ice #3 Breakdown: Fondy vs. Stevens Point

DOWNTOWN
Fond du Lac had this one all wrapped up, what with its amazing story of the Main Street Miracle Mile. Haven't heard it? Well, gather around. Back in the 1990s, several grocery and convenience stores on South Main Street in Fon du Lac defied the odds and sold the lion's share of winning Wisconsin Lottery tickets. Ma and Pa's Grocery Express, located in the heart of the Miracle Mile, sold the only Powerball ticket for $209 million. The ticket was claimed by 100 cheese factory workers, all but one of whom chose the cash option.

Add the fact that Fondy is home to the World's Largest Walleye Fish Fry and a Strongest Man Competition, and it's easy to conclude that this town of 58,000 is a shoo-in to lock up the Downtown category for Fon du Lac.

But then I googled "Stevens Point downtown" and up popped this photo, appropriately titled "Bra Point at Winona with UW Stevens Point." Ladies, you had me at "bra."
ADVANTAGE: POINT

NOTABLE CITIZENS

Fondly proudly calls Chicago DJ Jonathan Brandmeier and UFC fighter Eric Schafer native sons. It's also the birthplace of Jeanne Giese, the first person to be treated for rabies without receiving a vaccine. Point has an amazing amount of notable citizens, including Mystery Science Theater 3000's Joel Hodgson, San Jose Shark Joe Pavelski, race walker Curt Clausen, and my personal favorite (pardon the pun), Suzy Favor Hamilton. Granted, my budding friendship with Suzy was permanently estranged years ago when she edged me out in a Best Abs Competition at Rusty's Backwater Saloon. But looking back on it now, I concede she probably deserved it.
ADVANTAGE: POINT

MASCOT/LOGO
Fond du Lac has the Cardinals; SPASH has the Panthers. Wow. Not much I can say here.
ADVANTAGE: DRAW

PEDIGREE
Fondy is making its 12th appearance; they won the whole enchilada back in 2007, much to Tracy DeLuca's delight. Stevens Point is on the Big Ice for the 17th time, and were state champs back in 2002.
ADVANTAGE: POINT

CONFERENCE NAME
Fondy: Badgerland South. Stevens Point: Wisconsin Valley. Erik Moe has admitted a soft spot for teams with a "Lake" in its name. I have the same problem with conferences named after valleys. Well done, Panthers.
ADVANTAGE: POINT

COOL PLAYER NAMES
The best Fondy can offer is Bryce Bartlet, while Point comes at you with an assortment of tremendous names. Drew Goik? Bring it on. The impossible monikered Cody Crunkilton? I shake your hand. And what's a Stevens Point team without a handful of Grulkowskis and Kozicziwskis?
ADVANTAGE: POINT

UNIFORM DESIGN

A tough call. Fondy keeps it fairly simply, as does Point. I love the Rangers-style SPASH down the front, and the colors, but there's something suspicious going on with the striping, some Euro-curves at the waist and elbow that make me uneasy. This one could go either way and I can't with a clean conscience declare a winner.
ADVANTAGE: DRAW

Wow, by these measures, this one could be a bloodbath. But Fondy has fooled this reporter before. Still, I have to go with the science and keep my heart at home.

Stevens Point 26, Fondy 3

Arrowhead Destroying Onalaska, Mid-Third Period

It's 4-0 in the third.

Gigi Orta and Greg Buns Mills heading to the showers? (Not together, of course.)

WE ARE LIVE AT THE BIG ICE!!!

Go to Wisconsin Prep Hockey for not one, but two links to the live broadcast of Onalaska vs. Arrowhead.

I haven't been this glued to my desk since last Thursday when they were doing the layoffs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Big Ice Breakdown #2: Superior vs. Stoughton

Downtown Stoughton, Wisconsin, as seen through the eyes of the Chamber of Commerce.
DOWNTOWN
Last time I checked, Stoughton was a decent burg with a cool downtown. In fact, it's one of the first places I'd check out if I were to return to my motherland. Seriously. Stoughton is also the birthplace of the coffee break, which is why every year the town hosts The Coffee Break Festival. (I'm not making this up.) Superior has the Dragon Boat Festival, which sounds cool. Sadly, Superior could have a Cinnabon on every corner and it wouldn't alter the fact that winters there are so friggin' cold that one's testicles ascend into one's abdomen in October and don't return until April (or May, if they happen to see their shadow).
ADVANTAGE: STOUGHTON

FAMOUS CITIZENS
Men in Stoughton like to wrestle. Don't ask me why. It's just one of those things, and this fondness for squeezing a pal's melon with one's steely thighs has helped produced its most famous citizens, namely grappling legends Russ Hellickson and Andy Rein. Stoughton is also the birthpace of Bob Homme, the most famous children's television host in the history of Canada. Superior has Bud Grant. Case closed.
ADVANTAGE: SUPERIOR

TEAM MASCOT/LOGO
Superior goes by the Spartans. Stoughton by the Vikings. Mr. Ho? Meet Mr. Hum. Even the Superior logo looks bored. All that hockey success has obviously gone to his helmet. The Viking is not exactly pushing the fashion envelope but at least he looks like a guy you could party with (although that moustache must smell horrible).
ADVANTAGE: STOUGHTON

STATE TOURNEY PEDIGREE

When Superior fans say this ain't their first rodeo, they mean it. No one has made it The Big Ice more than the Spartans. This is their 32nd visit. In fact, they are such a regular fixture at the Great Dane in March that they have a permanent reservation at the Sheraton across the street. (Van Halen wing, please.) Talk about your contrasts. Stoughton is a Big Ice virgin. Can the Vikes handle the big time?
ADVANTAGE: SUPERIOR

CONFERENCE NAME
Stoughton is champion of the Badger South conference. Superior is as independent as Liz Phair before she channeled Avril Lavigne. We'll call this one a draw.
ADVANTAGE: DRAW

COOL PLAYER NAMES
Hmmm. Superior has a Brett Bukowski. A Brandon Burd. But their best name has to be Justin Cannon. The best name Stoughton can serve up is Cobi Krumholz.
ADVANTAGE: SUPERIOR

UNIFORM DESIGN
Superior doesn't start with a great color palette but they make the most of it. This office loves the outlined lettering and numbers, the dark helmets (pay attention, Onalaska), although he wishes they had left that bored-looking Spartan off the front. That prick is really starting to piss me off. Trust the white space, Superior. It can be your best friend. Stoughton, on the other hand, has been very coy about their uniform design. Oh, sure, I'd catch a glimpse here and there, a teasing hint, but it always seemed like they were hiding something from me. Well, dear Vikings, I finally discovered their dirty little secret, Did you really think you could get away with the word "STOUGHTON" scrawled across the FRONT of your jersey? WTF, homies? I'd rather wear a wrestling singlet to my high school reunion than commit that hockey fashion faux pas.

ADVANTAGE: SUPERIOR

Let's feed those results into the computer, shall we? Beep boop mep mep boooooop...

Superior 5, Stoughton 1

Big Ice Breakdown #1: Onalaska vs. Arrowhead

The good folks at Wisconsin Prep Hockey have all the real good breakdowns of the X's and O's of tomorrow's games, so once again it falls upon this humble blog to analyze the all-important INTANGIBLES that could very well decide a game come crunch time.

First up: Onalaska vs. Arrowhead

DOWNTOWNS
I have a confession: I have never set foot in Onalaska, Wisconsin (population 16,186) but then I saw the monument civic leaders have erected just outside town on Highway 35 and I officially have all I need to render a verdict.

This town rocks, as does, by all accounts, its annual Sunfish Days, now in their 33rd year. Arrowhead is located in Hartland, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee. One moves to the suburbs for a lot of reasons, one of them being the opportunity to send their kids to a great school like Arrowhead, but getting a nod in a Big Ice Breakdown sadly ain't one of them.
ADVANTAGE: ONALASKA

FAMOUS CITIZENS
Tennis legends Tim and Tom Gullikson hail from Onalaska, as does ornery football player Tom Newberry. And don't forget choral director Frank Pooler, who penned the holiday classic, "Merry Christmas, Darling." I can't find anyone famous from Hartland, although I did learn that its first postmaster in 1846 was William Clark.
ADVANTAGE: ONALASKA

TEAM MASCOT/LOGO
Onalaska's nickname, The Hilltoppers, is pure old school and I like it, but the mascot depiction is scandalous. That guy looks like one of the Von Trapp kids trying to pass for a teen just one more year, even though he's now 28 and discovered weightlifting. And men.
Arrowhead goes by the name of the War Hawks (awesome) and sports a logo that I first thought was too much a clash of the modern (the A) with the old (the arrowhead). But I'll be damned if that thing didn't grow on me.ADVANTAGE: ARROWHEAD

STATE TOURNEY PEDIGREE

Onalaska is making its second appearance at state. The first was way back in 1995, when I still had a hair and a reason to get up in the morning. Arrowhead is back for the second time, too, after a runner-up finish in 2005.
ADVANTAGE: DRAW

CONFERENCE NAME
Onalaska plays in the West Central Conference while Arrowhead dominates the Classic Eight. I like the word "classic," especially when it's placed in front of "rock."
ADVANTAGE: ARROWHEAD

COOL PLAYER NAMES
No great shakes here. Onalaska has the Tredinnick Brothers, Jordan and Jesse, plus a fellow named Ryan Tripp. The War Hawks only cool name is Coach Carl Valimont, and that's a stretch.
ADVANTAGE: ONALASKA

UNIFORM DESIGN
This one's a no brainer. You already know how I feel about Onalaska's mascot. But the numbers on the back are not doing much for me, either. And the white helmets with the dark jerseys? Yuck. (Their home whites are better, though.) Arrowhead's jerseys are fine. Mighty fine. Both home and away.
ADVANTAGE: ARROWHEAD

Taking all these factors into careful consideration, it's clear we're going to have a close one tomorrow afternoon. What say we start off the Big Ice Experience with a little overtime action?

Arrowhead 4, Onalaska 3 (5 OTs)

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Big Ice as Wordle Art

Knezevic Takes Command, But Race is Still Wild

Ivo Knezevic (right) in undated publicity photo.
Wowzers, I don't think we've ever had a Final 8 quite like this.

Two--count 'em--two unranked teams on the Big Ice, plus a #3 seed in the form of Stevens Point! What does this all mean? Well, for starters, it has many of you positing that for the first time in the history of the pool, we could have a winner who doesn't correctly predict the state champion. I have no idea if this is an actual possibility or just the Hamm's talking but as always, time will tell. Let's take a look at the pool participants with final picks still alive and see who's in the driver seat and who's stuffed in the trunk, wriggling his or her finger through a hole in a rust spot hoping a passing motorist will take notice.

Right now it's Ivo Knezevic's race to lose. Not only is he the only pool participant to break the century mark (104), but he correctly predicted the sleeping monster that is Superior, plus picked up crucial upset bonus point with his Fondy and Stevens Point selections. With 5 horses still in the race, he's very much the man to beat.

Another pleasant surprise has been the ice dancing team of Eric Mott and Analisa Rudy, who have quietly crept into the #2 spot with 99 points, based on Superior's strong run and the Stevens Point upset. They too have 5 teams still in the running, and if Stoughton advances they could surpass the Janesvillephile Knezevic. These two are proven winners, having already taken home a controversial second place in last year's hotly contested Madison Daschund Relays (pictured left).

John Stephens (98 points) holds down the third spot, but with Appleton out, and only 4 of his teams left in the running, his stay there is sure be as fleeting as my 1979 tenure with the Boy Scouts of America.

Posing much more of a challenge to Knezevic is another former champ, Tracy DeLuca. She leads the Fondy contingent with 97 points, just ahead of Brady Udall (92), who had the temerity to choose Rice Lake to make it to the Big Ice. (Granted, he also chose Hudson, U School, and Oregon to join them, so take that brave choice with an ample dose of sodium.) Creighton Fung (97) has performed admirably in his rookie year, but appears to not have enough horses left in his barn to catch Knezevic.

After rampant speculation, extremely close companions Jeff Caplan (93) and Erik Moe (89) have finally parted company in the Stoughton camp. If the Vikings win it all, look for Caplan to finally return The Plank to its rightful home in Wisconsin.

In the Onalaska camp, Gigi Orta (91) has overcome a hip flexor and a severe auto accident to remain very much in the running for this year's title. She has Verona in her final 8, which could cause Knezevic fits if the Wildcats and Hilltoppers both advance on Friday. Ditto for Greg Buns Mills (89), who chose the Hilltoppers and a scrappy squad from Rice Lake.

Oliver Albrecht (79) is the only contender in the Arrowhead camp, but he may be just too far back to catch up. It all depends on Stevens Point and Verona, his two other horses in this year's muddled race field.

And there you have it, folks. For full standings, make sure to click on the Brackets tab in the right column. Good luck to all participants. Keep checking in with the blog throughout the week as we will soon be announcing some of the winners of this year's Commissioner Awards. The competition has been fierce for Best Player Name. You won't want to miss it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Saturday Night Recaps: Arrowhead Has U School's Number...For the Third Time This Year

Arrowhead 4, University School 2
Anyone who knows hockey also knows how hard it is to beat the same team thrice in one campaign, even if the first two victories were by a combined score of 10-0. Arrowhead pulls it off, though, dominating the third period to provide U School with its own version of A Nightmare on Fairy Chasm Road. (I wish I was making that address up; God, Stephens, the jokes write themselves for your alma mater.)

Saturday Night Recap: Lakeland "Dyes" A Thousand Deaths at GreenHeck Fieldhouse, Kapust in Mourning

Stevens Point 3, Lakeland 2
The entire Lakeland team shows its commitment to the cause by bleaching their hair blonde (no wonder Aviva Kapust like these guys) but Stevens Point is far too experienced to fall for a cheap gimmick like that. The Panthers score a shorthanded goal in the third to send "Lakeside" home with a nasty peroxide hangover.

Saturday Night Recaps: Two Jordans and a Brice Keep the Hilltoppers' Topsy Turvy Season Alive


Hey, Jon Knuth, if it's any consolation, your team's uniforms aren't great, but they're a lot better than Onalaska's.
Onalaska 4, Wisconsin Rapids 3 (OT)
What did I tell you about that first line of Onalaska? Arrowhead might want to think long and hard about recruiting a new Hanson Brothers checking line if they're going to have any chance against the Terrific Trio that accounted for all four goals in the Hilltoppers' overtime thriller in Rapids' own barn.

Saturday Night Recaps; Rice Lake Tries on the Cinderella Slipper, Fits Like Lindsey Lohan's Jog Bra

Rice Lake 3, Eau Claire Memorial 2 (OT)
Let's let The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram's Adam Parks set up the drama, shall we? Mr Parks, take it away:
Every single member of the Rice Lake boys hockey team walked into Hobbs Ice Center on Saturday night knowing exactly what kind of success they'd had against Eau Claire Memorial the past four years.

None.

In fact, since the Warriors senior class started playing as freshmen in 2005 they had posted an 0-10 record against the Abes.

History, however, had no bearing this time around.
The Warriors knock off the defending state champs to earn their first trip to The Big Ice since Blondie's "Call Me" topped the Billboard 100.

Commissioner Returns From Sea, Big Ice Updates Delayed

An overnight trip aboard the USS Hornet with 400+ hyperactive children has left this reporter too incapacitated to catch up on all things hockey. It my have something to do with the three Xanax I popped around 3AM to drown out the cacophony of grinding teeth, snoring and, yes, vomiting.

Rest assured I will supply recaps and details as soon as the feeling in my fingers returns. For those of your who can't wait, click on the brackets link for the latest leaderboard.

Cheers.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Hudson vs. Superior comes to your PC!

For those of you with nothing better to do on Saturday afternoon (are you listening, Mr. Moe?), I offer this gift:


This reporter will be stationed on the USS Hornet with 60+ Indian Guides, but will bring along his laptop just in case. (Or maybe the cough I just this minute developed will be much worse by tomorrow afternoon. Time to go check my temperature. Rectally.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Results

Austin Schmid to Cody Strang: "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"
Verona 3, Madison Edgewood 2
Verona kills off 8 out of 9 penalities, including a 5-on-3, to earn some payback against the Cruskaters. UW recruit Cody Strang is harassed all night and held off the scoreboard until late in the game. Austin Schmid has another strong night in the nets.

Fondy 4, Ashwaubenon 2
“There’s 96 teams in the state, and every single one of them wants to get to State,” Fondy junior defenseman Brian Kemp said. “For us to do it this year with this group of guys it’s a really special thing.” Amen, brother. This one wasn't as close as the score would indicate. Fondy withstands an early Ashwaubenon charge, then grinds out a no-nonsense ass whooping. Cards are back on The Big Ice for the 6th time in 10 years.

Stoughton 3, Janesville 0
Is Andrew Martin the best goalie in the state? I can think of 18 Vikings (and quite a few Bluebirds) who think so. Stoughton hands Janesville their only shutout of the year. Mr. Hockey finalist Ross Mauermann's 10-minute misconduct penalty didn't make things any easier for Janesville. The Vikes heading to their first Big Ice appearance ever. Well done, Stoughton! Jeff Caplan and Erik Moe stopped holding hands long enough to clap wildly at the news.