Sunday, February 27, 2011

Moe Clings to WSHSHP Lead as Tightly as If It Were Nightly Bottle of Merlot; Hansen Comes Out of Nowhere to Snatch Second Place Out of Startled Stephens' Grasp

One half inch. A lousy half inch. (That's what she said.) On Saturday night, that's all that separated Erik Moe from his ever-tightening grip on a WSHSHP title and a self-pitying drinking binge the likes we haven't seen since Randy Rhoads took his ill-fated flight in 1982. A half-inch is the distance by which a puck fired in the overtime from the stick of Ashwaubenon's Connor Doran missed sending the Jaguars down state and Notre Dame and its many backers heading to the WSHSHP exits. With the incredibly charmed Moe correctly choosing six out of the final eight, he's looking strong, very strong, much to the chagrin of all those who hold honor and human decency in high regard.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Upon further review, it has been noted that Connor Doran actually plays for Notre Dame, so this lead-in no longer makes sense.]

Erik Moe puts on a happy face (and a Middleton
hockey jersey) for reporters Sunday night.
Should Moe and Notre Dame stumble, look out for TJ Hansen, the pride of Dane County who suddenly finds himself standing alone in the number two slot, jettisoned there by his stunning prediction of a New Richmond win over Superior. Hansen looks like our 2011 champ should Middleton prevail in the gloom and slush of the Alliant Center.

This photo of John Stephens would be far more impressive had he not 
required a guide with a public school diploma to bait his hook for him.
John Stephens' stunningly disloyal selection of the Marquette Hilltoppers keeps him still very much in contention, just two points ahead of our youngest entry in the Top 10, Griffin "The Grinder" Rudy. Given their identical Final 8 selections, Stephens will nose out Rudy and Jaime Moe should Marquette prevail. Still don't think those first round games matter in the long run? Griffin and the younger Moe beg to differ.

Griffin Rudy blows off steam at local gun range.
But hold on, lovers of prep puck action, don't count out defending champion Mark Jobson. Wausau West did an amazing impersonation of Ivan "I Must Break You" Drago in its stomping of Mosinee yesterday and has as much claim on the state title as any team in the Final 8. The Jobson will see his name on the trophy a second time should the Warriors roll on, a wafer-thin two points ahead of Wayne Lee and three points better than Brian Kobylinski.

2010 WSHSHP Champ Mark Jobson used his winnings to
purchase a goat named Dinger. And a hat.
Greg Buns Mills handles the pressure with typical calm.
None of this matters, of course, should everyone's favorite, the Old Abes of Eau Claire Memorial, take the title. In that case, long-suffering Greg Buns Mills will see his WSHSHP dreams come true. Knowing what a WSHSHP title would mean to the hard-working people of Detroit, many members of the WSHSHP dead pool are not so secretly rooting for the savvy creative director with a flair for the flamboyant.

Kelli Dornfeld reacts to the final score from the New Richmond 
Sports Center.
We can't retire for the evening without sending a shout out to rookie Kelli Dornfeld who, despite a death-blow Superior loss on Saturday, has cracked the WSHSHP Top 10. It's a remarkable achievement for the school teacher/organic farmer from Missouri, who has always shown exquisite taste in men but, for reasons that escape this office, often find sports and the men who play it silly. Here's hoping this strong showing inspires Kelli to take a greater interest in this finest of athletic endeavors, the Wisconsin State High School Hockey Tournament.

Click on the Leaderboard link in the right column to see the rest of the standings. There are some shameful performances there, but it takes someone with a colder heart than mine to expose them here.

Saturday Recaps

Ashwaubenon goaltender Ryan Wischow wears his exhausted heart on his sleeve.
Trasher Trzinski/Wisconsin Prep Hockey
WSHSHP leader Erik Moe had to break out his emergency box of wine to get through this one, as Notre Dame fought back from a 2-0 deficit to earn its second straight trip to state. It took three overtimes to get there, though, and many are touting this hard fought game as one of the best in recent tourney history. When Ashwaubenon's Connor Doran ripped a screamer off the crossbar in the first overtime, Moe's shriek could be heard as far north as the Love's Truck Stop in Corning, where the Commissioner has stopped to replenish his beef jerky supply. On a slightly happier note, I am pleased to report that the better uniform won. NDA must have taken this reporter's words to heart.

Notre Dame shoots and scored with this new uni design. Note shaded sleeve
pattern and angular sock striping. Very advanced for a Green Bay team.
Trasher Trzinski/Wisconsin Prep Hockey
Hilltoppers, I owe you an apology. Four unanswered goals in the third period silences the Vikings and, perhaps more notably, this reporter. At least for the time being. Knock off Notre Dame next round, and I'll really start scarfing one of my favorite dishes: humble pie.

Justin Connaher/Fon du Lac Reporter
The slipper gets a new Cinderella, as #4-seed Cedarburg earns its first trip to state with a convincing 6-3 victory over Fondy St. Mary's Springs. The Ledgers, rolling only two lines, simply ran out of gas while the Bulldogs are on a roll and playing very well, sort of like another team from the Milwaukee area that peaked at just the right time last year. Heads up, Middleton. And Tracy DeLuca and Kevin Seidel, thanks for playing.

Wausau West can follow a puck, but they sure have trouble following the camera.
Wisconsin Prep Hockey
Hey, Mosinee, did I ever tell you about the time I suffered a nosebleed while making out with my high school girlfriend in my parents' Chevy Malibu station wagon? Or that a certain member of this hockey pool once named me captain of his own personal All-Ugly Hockey Squad? I share this with you in an attempt to convince you that there are worse humiliations than falling behind 6-0 midway through the first period of a sectional final playoff game. So keep your dobbers up, boys. Life is long and full of surprises, like the time my shower door shattered and almost corrected my botched circumcision. Almost. But perhaps I've said too much.

Attention, Taylor Olson, you can skate away with the puck, but you can't skate 
away from Luke Panek's dreams.
Dave Newman/New Richmond News
For the first time in a decade, the Superior Spartans will not be making a trip to The Big Ice, and they have a very determined New Richmond Tiger team to thank for that. Only three pool players in the Top 10 called this one correctly. We all know about Luke Panek and his crazy dream of a Tiger title. But TJ Hansen and Wayne Lee, you two brave souls should also stand and be acknowledged. This office salutes you.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday Night Recaps

The party begins in the downtowns of Wisconsin Dells and Reedsburg, respectively.Trasher Trzinski/Wisconsin Prep Hockey
Trasher was on hand for last's night tilt at the South Wood County Rec Center, the biggest win in WD/R history. A new debutante will be coming out on the Big Ice next week, and she will be need a monstrous corsage to cover up what will surely be the Final Eight's largest logo.
To the victors go the spoils, in this case firm handshakes from a guy in a Badger jacket.
Bill Berg/Wisconsin Prep Hockey
Chi-Hi tries to slow down the Old Abes with a left-wing lock. It works for a while. But not long enough. The Old Abes return for another shot at the title.

As he lined up for a decisive face-off late in Friday night's third period, Brandon Schaller touched gloves with fellow Middleton defenseman Sean Murphy and exchanged a simple message. "We got this," Schaller said. "This is ours."
If's Brandon Storlie doesn't win a Pulitzer for this intro, someone is going to get a very sternly worded letter from this office. Middleton makes another trip to the Big Ice, but not before Waunakee wins many new admiriers in the WSHSHP.

Look at the Leaderboard: Moe Clings to Lead, Uncharacteristically Quiet Stephens and Younger Moe Make Their Move

The party rages on at Moe Manor! Yeeehawwww!
Sure, on paper it was an upset. But was it really? Many felt Sectional 4 possessed the weakest #1 seed in the tourney and given Onalaska's loss to Wisconsin Dells/Reedsburg last night, can anyone really argue with that perception? Not this office. And we now have a scrappy team taking their show to the Big Ice for the very first time. Congrats, Chiefs! Our condolences to Andrew Davis, now fighting for an upper bunk an already crowded Dead Pool dormitory.

As for those still in the hunt, Erik Moe holds onto his lead, widening the gap every so slightly between his freckled backside and that of defending champ Mark Jobson. Leaping between these two rivals like a drunken frat boy stealing a dance is none other than our favorite loafer-wearing Texan, John Stephens. The semi-illiterate schoolmaster holds down second place with an impressive 138 points. Could this be the start of a frenzied charge to the finish for Stephens? Stand by.

Griffin Rudy: Already cracking
under the pressure?
Other names of note: Erik Moe's better looking sibling, Jaime Moe, makes a rare appearance in the Top 5, joining the Rudy family's only true athlete, Griffin, in fourth place with 136 points. The ever-so-delicate Wayne Lee and Greg Buns Mills round out the Top 5 with 135 points a piece.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Spreading a Different Kind of Gospel in Palm Desert

While I lack the cool ride of the Angels with Christ, I have the better t-shirt (above), and I am wearing it with pride everywhere I go in this arid land of leather-skinned golfers. No converts yet, although I did enjoy a cocktail with four charming retirees from Cambridge who were avidly following the progress of the Badger-Wolverine basketball game on their smart phones. So I've got that going for me.

This one should be a snoozefest, especially with the Cardinals missing their two players suspended for the game. But the game will be broadcast on Sports Radio 1400 tonight, and if any of your have the cajones to admit you listened in tonight, I will respect you forever. Heard or not, it will be the Old Abes in a cake walk, much to the delight of 25% of the WSHSHP leader board.

An intriguing match-up, featuring the Rodney Dangerfields of the WIAA, the Onalaska Hilltoppers, and the upstart Wisconsin Dells/Reedsburg Chiefs from the Badger North conference. Looking to back the team with the largest uniform logo? WD/R is your team. Looking for the team with a logo that has that so-unmacho-the-team-wearing-it-must-be-tough quality? Look no farther than the Onalaska squad. I've written extensively about the very, very fit gentlemen in uncomfortably snug lederhosen before. And he still holds a place in my heart. I give the nod to Onalaska tonight, if only because they have an undersized feel-good story in Jesse Tredinnick. Andrew Davis and Andy Indus agree.

Todd Zwiaska, TJ Hansen, Kevin Zlevor, the disappointing Ivo Knezevic, and Kevin McMonagle are hoping all the wind has left the #6 seed Waunakee Warriors' sails. The romantics in the crowd are rooting for this year's ice-bound version of Hoosiers. The Cards thumped Waunakee 6-4 back in January, so the only fairy tale ending we can reasonably expect tonight involves me, the Missus, and a bottle of room temperature Asti Spumante. Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Viewer Mail: Video Evidence Adds Fuel to Paternity Rumor Fire

A very proud Erik Moe continues to have the February of a lifetime. First the Packers, then his lead in the WSHSHP, and now this, two clips from his son's recent hockey tourney up in Las Vegas.

I can confirm with personal observation that Erik's son Henry is a solid hockey player. I've seen the kid play, and this well-coiffed scrapper with the sheepish smile is a joy to watch. (The Ventura Mariner uniform design doesn't hurt, either.) He truly is the whole package, a stay at home defenseman who knows when to step up for either a bone-jarring hit or a sweet goal. In fact, the only bad thing I can say about the kid is that his hockey bag smells like the hold on a crab boat.

In today's viewer mail, Mr. Moe sends us a double treat.

First a little rock:

And now a little roll.

I am not ashamed to admit I screamed like my niece at a Justin Beiber show when viewing both these clips. Beautiful, no? Yet not without its controversy. The elder Moe has long fought rumors that Henry does not in fact carry his genetic code. Note, for example, the younger Moe's full head of non-orange hair, his lean, almost gangly physique, even the ability to check an opponent without bursting into shrill tears. Perhaps most damning is the utter cool Henry displays after scoring his beauteous rink-long goal. No obnoxious, cowboy-riding-his-hockey-stick-like-a-horse celebratory dance there; the kid acts like he's been there before. (He has.)

Unlike his father, I don't envision this kid having any trouble getting a date for the Prom. (The fact that I have had a smattering of personal success with Prom myself, have been described as gangly in my own day, and was the person cheering loudest at Henry's hockey game in San Jose should in no way be misconstrued. Nor should the fact that I have the name Alexandra tattooed on my left left shoulder blade, now obscured by man-fur.)

Perhaps I've shared too much.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday Night Recaps


Dear Commissioner: Please shut up. Yours in Christ, Scott Crawford and the 
rest of the Superior Spartans. P.S. Thanks, Creighton, for your unwavering support.
Jed Carlson/Superior Telegram
The Superior Spartans let their sticks do the talking for them in a 6-0 pasting of the Hudson Raiders. The boys from Hudson do not go out quietly, outshooting the Spartans 18-1 in the second period. But goaltender Scott Crawford + 4 power play goals = several happy WSHSHP participants.

Let me get this straight. The New Richmond's Tigers, the pride of Luke Panek, needs three--count 'em, three--overtimes to put away the pesky Indians of Menomonie, and there is not a single link to the story anywhere on the internets? And Wisconsin thinks the budget deficit is their biggest problem? Priorities, people. I have spoken.

Think Hunter Scott is happy about becoming ECM's all-time leading
scorer? How do you think the Commissioner feels about not having to
put the Packer fight song on his answering machine? (Please take note
of the rare glimpse of the Chequamegon/Phillips uniform.)
Andi Stempnak/Eau Claire Ledger-Telegram
How's this for irony? The first time I am able to correctly spell Chequamegon unaided is in a sentence describing their elimination from the tourney. Isn't that a scream? I would link you to a story but the Eau Claire Ledger-Telegram wants you to pay for it first. Isn't that even more hilarious?

Speaking of hilarious, Chippewa Falls survives a furious rally by the Warriors to pull off a big win, then loses its two best players, Garrett Nelson and Logan Murphy, to match penalties in a fracas after the final horn. I could get really condescending about the importance of keeping your cool in such a situation, but then someone would inevitably remind me of this little incident from my recent past. Still, ECM's already easy path to state just got a whole lot easier.


Ask anyone who has played the game. One of the hardest playoff games to win is the one where you're playing an opponent you've already beaten twice in the regular season. Wausau West makes it look easy Tuesday, racking up ten penalties and surviving eight power plays to thump the Evergreens, 4-0. Looks like someone's got a chip on his shoulder, and the only thing that will knock it off is the raising of a state championship trophy.

Ladies and gentlemen, Cinderella has left the building, and I don't mean the greatest rock band this side of UFO. But fear not, friends, Mosinee is a lowly #6 seed themselves, and having found the glass slipper left behind by the Panthers, they find it fits as snugly as goaltender Wade Michalski's protective cup.


Onalaska's Avery Waldera drives easily past a Sparta defender, despite the
weight of WSHSHP veteran Andrew Davis' hopes upon his shoulders.
Peter Thomson/LaCrosse Tribune
Holy Sydney Crosby, Batman! Onalaska's Jesse Tredinnick rings up his 40th goal of the season in a 3-2 victory over the Sparta Vipers. The attendance was announced at a little over 1,000 souls, making the Sunfish Capital of the World temporarily my favorite town in all Wisconsin.

Call me a dreamer, but I think the Frozen Four could have really
benefited from a team with solid socks, sported here by Tomah's
Cliff Bartholomew.
La Crosse Tribune
You can't say Tomah didn't have a chance to win this one. Dumb penalties by WD/R gave Tomah an 6-on-4 powerplay for the last minutes of the game, but the Timberwolves couldn't capitalize. The Chiefs bring some new blood to the finals in Sectional 4. Can't wait to check out the uniforms.


Only a blurb for this game in the Press-Gazette. The editors there must still be recovering from the Super Bowl.

Had I known that Green Bay United not only has a player with the nifty name of Luke Karakas but also answers to the name Gryphons, I would have picked them to take it all. Good thing I didn't know that. Trasher gives us all the details.


It was all going according to plan. Going into the third period, Oregon held a 1-0 lead and was 17 minutes away from making the Commissioner look like a friggin' genius. Then Brett Skibba and the Cardinals exploded for four goals in a four minate span to lay waste to a perfectly good prediction.

Chris Schreiner/Wisconsin State Journal
Back when I was a Crusader, the only thing I knew about Waunakee was that their entire cross country team wore matching blue bandanas that gave them all an Aryan master race meets bad-guy-from-Karate-Kid look. It was very intimidating, let me tell you. My, how the times have changed. Waunakee makes its first major mark on the Wisconsin hockey map with a convincing victory over the favored and better-uniformed Cruskaters.


A wise man once said, "MU will win, but in spectacularly unimpressive fashion." Cue another not-so-impressive 2-1 victory for the Hilltoppers, where the difference maker allegedly came off two blown calls by the refs. Is this not the most overrated team in the state? Prove me wrong, MU.

Would love to tell you more about this one, but that would require a legitimate news source to actually cover the game. Slackers.


Revenge is a dish best served cold, as cold as the ice upon which the vanquished Wildcats of University School sat in utter disbelief after watching the Cedarburg Bulldogs storm back from 2-0 deficit with five unanswered goals. It was payback time for Cedarburg, who had their collective asses handed to them by the Wildcats almost a year ago today.

We save perhaps the most exciting game for last. Fondy St. Mary's Springs needs overtime and a defenseman who hasn't scored since November to finish off the underdog Arrowhead Warhawks, who actually held the lead with only 90 seconds left in the game. Watch out people, this is the sort of victory that gets the Ledgers thinking that maybe, just maybe, this is their year. God bless them, and God bless Wisconsin high school hockey.

Upsets Abound, Moe Rockets to Lead with Agility that Belies Sloth, Knezevic and DiBona Concede Awfulness

It was an amazing night of action and, as promised, prognosticators fell by the wayside while others made their breaks from the pack. When all was said and done, one Erik Michael Moe, sweating more profusely than that time he actually had to get off his couch to change the channel on his TV, found himself alone atop the WSHSHP heap, breathing the rarefied air of a leader.

Proving the spirit of sportsmanship is strong at the WSHSHP, 
Blake Feist (center) and John Rader (right) share a celebratory shot with 
current leader Erik Moe.
It was a remarkable performance for the cagey veteran, who many felt his best WSHSHP days were behind him. But much like his idol, Brett Favre, Moe has shown age is just a number. Can Moe hold on? His brackets looks as solid as a brick of fine Wisconsin cheddar, so I would advise no one to bet against this gutsy kid from the rough streets of Westlake Village.

Moe's 122 points were one point better than--well, look who's here--returning champion Mark Jobson, who sprang out of nowhere to grab sole possession of second place. Jobson has made a career out of sneaking up on doubters, and as one of the few contenders with his pony hitched to the Wausau West band wagon, he just might be capturing lightning in a bottle for a second year. Stand by.

2010 WSHSHP Champion Mark Jobson engaging in his
favorite past time: a form of live rodent skeet shooting
called Gopher Gutz.
Greg Buns Mills relocation to Michigan is paying huge dividends this year. He is having a great tourney, and is tied with another wily but thin-skinned veteran, Wayne Lee, for third place in this year's pool. Mills' ECM pick could prove the difference this year and the Wooden Plank may finally be returning, if not to America's Dairyland, at least to the Central Time Zone.

Greg Buns Mills "soars" up the rankings.
(Being in advertising, Mills has trouble with subtlety.)
These are our medalists for now but for how long? There is a huge log jam on the leaderboard, with 30 pool participants crowded into the WSHSHP Top 10. Chip Krauss deserves a shout out. Despite choosing eliminated Madison Edgewood to advance, he still leapt all the way to 4th place this round. It's as high as this scrapper will get this year (at least without a beer bong) but look for great things from this kid in the future.

Tricky Eldredge, Chip Krauss, John Rader, and Steve Anderson prove that, unlike pleated shorts
and high-rider mom jeans, the bond between WSHSHP participants never goes out of style.
Former leader Todd Ziaska is still very much in the picture with 117 points, as are the surprisingly quiet Koby Kobylinski, the unsuprisingly obnoxious Creighton Fung, the tandem team of Analisa Rudy and Eric Mott, and newcomer Mike Moore.

Here are the rankings as of this morning:

At this stage of the tourney, it's time to make a distinction between slow starts and godawful performance. This office can no longer ignore the shameful performance of former champion Ivo Knezevic and braggart Dylan DiBona. Mired in 23rd and 24th place, respectively, one can only shake one's head at the sadness that is their wasted potential. Here's hoping that these two sinking ships can stop their leaks before the next brackets come out in 2012.

Dylan DiBona deals with his disappointment
the only way he knows how.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Night Previews, Part 2

The rest of tonight's game slate:


Dinner at Le Bernadin? No, thank you,
I'm waiting for the WSHSHP scores.
A compelling triumverate of visionaries has assembled on the Notre Dame Academy dais. You've got Erik Moe, who loves all things Green Bay in nature (including obesity), one Juliana Cobb who has apparently found her new fast-tracked life in New York City empty without the WSHSHP, and Colonel Dan "Pappy" Birrenkott, currently defending our God-given right to bet on high school sports from the hockey-mad enclave of Seoul, South Korea. God bless you, sir! Me thinks all three are safe for one more round.

If you think the hockey rivalry between North and South Korea is intense, you should stop by the the All-America City tonight for the clash between Green Bay United and Ashwaubenon. Choosing the Jaguars to take the title is Anné Knezevic's most controversial move since the afternoon she placed all her armies in Irkutsk during a childhood game of RISK, a move that prompted brother Ivo to smash her third-grade art project against a wall. Let's hope the Ashwauebenon pick proves less damaging to her WSHSHP hopes than Irkutsk proved to her ceramic turkey. We're rooting for you, Arn!


This game will decide once and for all if your Commissioner is truly a genius or, as many suggest, little more than an unbearably handsome chaser of windmills. Weeks ago, he picked Oregon to not only beat Verona in the Regionals, but to also knock off Middleton in the Sectional Semis. Crazy, you say? The Panthers tied the Cardinals, 2-2, in their only meeting this season. And they are hotter than Lady Gaga in a meat bikini. You have been warned. And by "you" I mean, Todd Zwiaska, Middleton alumni TJ Hanson and Ivo Knezevic, Cheesehead-turned-Kuwaiti Kevin Zlevor, and Burning Man co-founder Kevin McMonagle.
Kevin McMonagle, second from right, spreads the Gospel of
Wisconsin High School Hockey to the Black Rock Desert.
Several former Crusaders drank the Maroon & Gold poison this tourney, including noted basketball blogger Yago Colás and Chip "Toes" Krauss. But look who's also in this camp. Remember 2007 Rookie of the Year Jeff Kerrin? He disappeared after his initial success, leaving many to wonder if like Mick Taylor in the Rolling Stones or Icarus of Iron Maiden fame, he had simply flown to close to the sun of an WSHSHP title and plummeted to a fate worse than death: anonymity. Good to see you back, Jeff. Ditto for pool veteran Kevin Brown. I wouldn't get too cocky, though. Edgewood may be the higher seed, but Waunakee whacked the Cruskaters 5-2 in their only tilt this season.


Granted, whenever I see the words "Marquette University" and "hockey" in the same sentence, my mind drifts to a faraway time when my mullet had its own zip code. But then I remember those words refer to a far different MU team, one that has yet to capture my imagination as a contender for this year's title. A heaping dozen of you feel otherwise. I suspect tonight's game while satisfy both parties. MU will win, but in spectacularly unimpressive fashion, leaving us to settle this argument at another time and on another sheet of ice.

Look to Stoughton to win this game, if only to keep legendary hockey columnist Oakie Brumm from rolling in his grave. Oakie spent the latter portion of his days railing against allowing private schools to participate in the public school tourney, fearing it would decimate the ranks of the public school teams. He was right, of course, but I digress. Go Vikings.


The North Bay Blackjacks remain undefeated in Santa Rosa's highly competitive Snoopy's Adult Hockey League, thanks in large part to the play of James "Doc" MacDowell, a newcomer to this year's pool. Will his pick of defending champ MUS prove as crafty as his stickhandling and choice in wives? We'll find out tonight. Doc is joined by fellow rookie Joe Lacy, who likes fast cars and slow dachshunds, not necessarily in that order.

I suspect more than one Ledger
is right now taping this photo to
the inside of his hockey glove.
As her profile pic may suggest, Tracy DeLuca has never been one to shy away from a bold statement. And it's that sort of chutzpah that has won her not one but two WSHSHP titles. This season, Tracy sticks with her Fondy First Method, but there's a twist. She has moved her marker from the public school Cardinals down the road to the holier confines of Fon du Lac St. Mary's Springs. Fellow rocker Kevin Seidel joins her there and should the Ledgers prevail this evening, expect them to pen a ballad sweet enough to rival Whitesnake's Is This Love?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tuesday Night Previews, Part 1

Take a good look at the leaderboard, men and women of the WSHSHP, for it all changes tomorrow night. With one flick of a prepster's wrist, a dream can be crushed, a hope rekindled. Let's take a look at who has the most to lose or gain in Tuesday's matches.


Dana Gross:
Rookie of the Year?
Superior's hold on Sectional 1 is as shaky as the legs of a newborn calf. Can it bear the weight of so many prognosticators' demands? The Spartans barely survived Somerset and now face an inspired and much tougher opponent wearing the uninspired logo of Hudson. Lots of you will be keeping one eye on your beer koozie and one eye on the scoreboard tonight, including rookie Dana Gross, who leads all newcomers with 74 points. The quiet but fierce Gross is locked in a tight race with pool veteran Anthony "Coach" Landgraf. Others with dogs in the fight include veterans John Rader, Creighton Fung, Dan Krewson, and rookie Kelli Dornfeld (who has the honor of once being first in this reporter's heart but now, sadly, is 59th on the WSHSHP leaderboard). This office is tempted to give Fung bonus points for converting his Facebook profile pic to that of a Superior Spartan, but will instead merely wish him Godspeed.

Luke Panek remains an enigma in this pool, having chosen New Richmond as his state champion. All we know of this man is that he is a friend of Stu Keith's and lives in Baldwin, Wisconsin. Oh, and he's allegedly very handsome. Luke is hoping that Tiger goaltender Patrick Hailey proves as good at keeping Indian pucks out of the net as Panek's company, Midwest Leafguard, is as good at keeping pine needles out of your rain gutter. (Luke, please send endorsement fee to this office, care of the Commissioner's Slim Jim Fund.) It's a big night in the Panek household for sure.


We all know the Old Abe bandwagon is a crowded one this year. Now I could waste a lot of our time drumming up false drama about their next match against the Screaming Eagles of C/P, but the truth is that if ECM doesn't win by at least five goals, this reporter will place the Packer Fight Song on his answering machine for a week.

Erik Moe before the
bitterness set in.
A question as old as the WSHSHP itself: If a sectional semifinal game is played that doesn't include at least one participant's choice for state champion, does it make a sound? Does Erik Moe carry bitterness in his heart?


Historians will look back on this game as the moment that defined Luke Rudy's WSHSHP career. A surprisingly fast starter this tourney, young Luke can break free from his father's considerable shadow with a Warrior win over the scrappy Evergreens. Older but far more prone to tears, Wayne Lee will also seeing his dream of Top 10 finish grow tantalizingly close with a Warrior win tonight. Others with a vested interest? Defending champion Mark Jobson, the tragic figure of Oliver Albrecht, the surprisingly quiet Koby Kobylinski and Portland-area fitness guru Dan Caplan.

#7 seed SPASH is rapidly turning into the feel-good story of the tourney and stand a very good chance of beating Mosinee tonight. Too bad no one on the leaderboard has the faith in the Panthers that Coach Dan Francis has.

Artist's rendition of what
Andrew Davis will look like
the year Onalaska wins state title.

Lederhosen-loving Andrew Davis is playing the percentages, figuring that if he stays with the Onalaska Hilltoppers for enough consecutive years, they are bound to bring home a WSHSHP title. Andrew, I have news for you. I've had that same theory about the Minnesota Vikings for 40+ years and I'm still waiting. It has gotten so bad that I have actually resorted to writing out instructions for my children on how they are to sprinkle my ashes on the Monday morning after the Vikings' first Super Bowl victory.

Too bad no one has a dog in this fight. It's going to be a good game. Tomah won an overtime game between the two team earlier this year. WD/R has a player named Ashton Mace. Advantage: Team with a player named after a chemical used to subdue Ivo Knezevic at an Elvis Costello concert.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Friday Night Recaps

Everything went pretty much according to plan Friday night. Most of the games were as exciting as watching a Real Salt Lake vs. Columbus Crew Major League soccer match, with the favored teams (Green Bay United, MUS, Dells/Reedsburg) crushing their opponents. Four games, though, are worth taking a closer look at:


Yes, this was an upset, but usually WHSHP upsets don't turn into routs the way this one did. Hockey is a game of momentum, kids, and much like with the Commissioner's drinking, when things start to go south in a WIAA hockey game, things can get real ugly really fast. Our Madison correspondent, Mike Moore, had a pretty succinct review of the match:
MG looked flat, and a couple of bad bounces and bad call did them in. In the end, they're a one line team and they didn't have enough gas.
I wish I could say the same for the Commissioner after last night's festivities at Taqueria Cancun, but that would be crass. And we like to keep things classy here at WSHSHP HQ. We'll have to take Mike's word for it, as well as our very good friends at the Wisconsin Prep Hockey Report, because the Madison media are apparently took caught up in the political chaos around the capital to cover what truly matters.

We've already covered this story in an earlier post, and if there is one thing the Commissioner is not, it's redundant.  We've already covered this in an early post, and if there is one thing the Commissioner is not, it's redundant.


Let me get this straight: #1 seed Marquette needs overtime to eek out another 1-goal victory (that would make 14 on the year) over #8 seed Whitefish Bay and there is not a story to be found anywhere online? Can someone say conspiracy? The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has always been as lazy as a freelance advertising copywriter when it comes to covering prep hockey. If this game had featured boys in unitards or state-of-the-art banana slings you can bet the sports editors would have been all over it. Read into that as you may.


Dan Lassiter/Janesville Gazette
Attention: Hilltoppers of Marquette. Beware the hot goaltender. Zach Woodman is going to make you earn your one-goal victory next week. The Purple Knights' game plan, much like their uniforms, is simple but effective. I smell an upset. And we all know what an outstanding sense of smell the Commissioner is having this tourney (Monona Grove notwithstanding).

COMING UP: Commissioner goes on hike with family, tries not to annoy wife with constant talk about high school hockey.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Video Highlights of Commissioner's Brilliance, er, Verona/Oregon Game

Here's the recap of last night's double overtime thriller at the Eagle's Nest.

Better yet, here's the video.

Thanks to our good friends at

A Look at the Leaderboard: TZMAN Holds Onto First, Pellegrino Joins the Dead Pool

Hubris or good hygiene? A cocky Todd Z. was spotted this morning in 
Sonoma County putting a down payment on a new His and Hers Port-o-Pottie.
The ice shavings have settled on another night of exciting prep hockey, and Todd Z. still finds himself in sole possession of first place on the WSHSHP Leaderboard, five points ahead of Lucas Rudy and Blake Feist

Luke Rudy: "Wausau West? It's elementary, Watson."
Blake Feist, taken before The Cove exposed his vicious yet
highly profitable dolphin jerky enterprise.
Joining these four on the medal stand after round two are third placers Greg Buns Mills, the extraordinarily sensitive Wayne Lee, and Mark Pellegrino. Sadly, this will most likely be Pellegrino's last visit to the winner's circle as his choice for state champion, Monona Grove, bowed out in spectacular fashion to Waunakee last night. MG was a bold choice, Mark (Commissioner-speak for "ridiculous") and we salute you for it, although we regret to inform you there will be no refunds on the AmericInn suite you booked for the Frozen Four in Madison. 

Wayne Lee, fighting back tears after being called
"extraordinarily sensitive."

Greg Buns Mills has adopted a more aloof attitude
since moving to Detroit. 
The next few pages of the leaderboard are packed tighter than the Superior High School band bus, with a staggering 24 WSHSHP participants within ten points of the lead. It's still anyone's pool, ladies and gentlemen. Put another way, watch your back, Todd!

Friday, February 18, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: Commissioner Publicly Breaks Ties With Monona Grove: "You are dead to me."


Moments after Wauankee's trouncing of heavily favored Monona Grove, an emotional Commissioner Peter Rudy took the dais at a hastily convened press conference outside his rural Sun Valley home to publicly break all ties with the Silver Eagles program.

"Year after year I have placed my trust in those boys," Rudy said, his voice trembling, "and season after season they destroy a dream third only to the Vikings winning the Super Bowl and a ski weekend with Miley Cyrus."

Always a solid hockey pool prognosticator, a review of Rudy's past tourney brackets confirms his claim. In 2008, questionable calls involving Monona Grove stalled a remarkable run that many saw as Rudy's best chance to win a second WSHSHP title. Experts cite Rudy's complicated history with several citizens of the Madison suburb as the reason for his unwarranted faith in the program. "It involves a girl, a three-piece corduroy suit, and a retainer," revealed a source who wished to remain anonymous. "That's all I can tell you."

Rudy refused to take questions from the press before being whisked to a local Jack in the Box to commiserate with friends, family, and a triple order of mini-sirloin burgers.

Friday's Games to Die For

Seven games are on tap tonight but from where the Commissioner is seated (an overstuffed bean bag chair surrounded by year-old issues of US Weekly), only one of them is worth giving up Talk Soup for. Let's take a look, shall we?


Mark my words, this epic showdown between Dane County rivals will play a pivotal role in deciding this year's WSHSHP champion. Why? Because this reporter has a gut feeling that the underrated Panthers are ready to make a run. They've had an up (winning first three goals by a combined 22-0 score), down (losses to Edgewood, Stoughton, Janesville, Springs, and Green Bay), and up (seven straight wins and counting) season. One of those wins in their current streak? A 4-3 victory over Verona, which also happens to be the last time the Wildcasts played. Sure, Verona is the better team, but if this pool has proven anything, it's that talent (or in my case, looking a little bit like Tom Cruise around the eyes) only takes you so far in this spectacle we call The Big Ice.

I expect my Madison area readers to keep me abreast of the situation, as I will be down at the Elks Club tonight defending William Shakepeare against Tim Shore's outrageous claims that Francis Bacon wrote the lion's share of his tragedies. Like you, I refuse to stand by idly while the Bard is "done to death by a slanderous tongue."

Thursday Night Recaps

Lots of games last night, so let's only stick with the ones that didn't have people prematurely digging into their weekend supply of meth between periods, shall we?


Hockey players hug a lot. You got a problem with that, then get 
the hell out of this pool.
We've already visited the close call in Superior. But that double overtime thriller was hardly the only circus in the sectional Thursday night. The Raiders kill off two 5-on-3 power plays to skin the Wildcats, just like the Commissioner predicted. The boys in the more masculine blue have to be chomping their bits at a chance to knock off Superior on Tuesday. Stay tuned while I price flights into the Northwoods after the wife retires to our guest bedroom with her Friday bottle of Snowshoe Grog.


I told you it would be a close game. What I neglected to tell you is that I once spent a delightful evening in Marshfield at a gentleman's club called The Rear End. It used to be a drive-in theater so there was plenty of parking. One of the dancers taught me how to flip a quarters with my abs, a trick that has proven quite a hit at Indian Guide campfires. Can you tell I'm stalling because I couldn't find any links to this game?


Alex Yde scored a goal for every letter in his last name as the Evergreens advanced against Northland Pines, just like I told you they would.

Momentum is overrated. Mosinee goes into the tourney with a six-game losing streak and beats Pacelli, then knocks off the far tougher Tomahawk Hatchets. Sort of a shame, given that Tomahawk's goalie has the lovable name of Ole Hanson. Don't you just want to hug him?

Photo: Xai Kha/Wausau Daily Herald
Lordy, Sectional 3 was the place to be last night (rhyme copyrighted by Owen Fenby Naming Projects, LLC). In the biggest upset of the night, a red hot and exquisitely uniformed Stevens Point squad sent the Lumberjacks of Wausau East out to the woodshed. If it's any consolation to the losers, Henry Nuckles has been shortlisted for this year's Dusty Hackbart Coolest Player Name Award. (Henry, if you are willing to change your first name to Harry, I'll hand you the trophy right now.)


Loyal readers will also notice the fallen-off-the-back-of-a-manure-spreader boards that are
a sure sign the game was played at Sparta's home barn.
1-0 games are not this reporter's cup o' tea. But I couldn't resist the rare opportunity showcase the Aquinas jersey (player on left above). Me likes (the jersey, not the player, although I'm sure he's a great kid). Oh, and Sparta won


Appleton United loses fashion war, too. The new dark jersey is an improvement.
But white socks with a dark top? Somewhere Tim Gunn is throwing a conniption.
Photo: Wm. Glasheen/Post-Crescent
The Comets roll two lines and three defensemen for most of the game and make the Commissioner look like a genius in the process. More importantly, the Comets show an unexpectedly simple jersey design in a 2-0 manhandling of the mascot-less United. No wonder they're into the third round without giving up a goal.


Don't think Springs means business? Think again.
Photo: Patrick Flood/Fon du Lac Reporter
When crosstown rivals clash, especially in Fondy, you'd best throw away the records. This was a board-to-board battle ultimately won by the better team.

Another great call by the Commissioner, though had I known about that grumpy man logo on the Homestead jersey, I would have had them winning the whole enchilada. I expect to hear about this game from our Metro Milwaukee reporter, Koby Kobylinski.

Photo: Benny Sieu/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
I wish I could tell you more about this game, but no one covered it. Details, anyone? Koby?

Coming Up: Preview of Tonight's Games to Die For

Why They Play the Game, Part 2

Photo by Jed Carlson/Superior Telegram
Backers of the Superior are suddenly more nervous than a one-eyed prospector eating homemade mushroom soup.

Why? Because the Spartans barely, and I mean barely, made it past a scrappy but undermanned Somerset squad last night to advance in Sectional One.

Are you freaking kidding me?

So attention, Misters Landgraf, Gross, Rader, Fung, Nichols, and Krewson (not to mention Miss Dornfeld), may I humbly suggest you send a rather large flower arrangement and a case of Monster energy drink (Khaos flavor, please) to one Caleb Dushkin, the junior Spartan winger whose overtime--OVERTIME!--goal helped Superior avoid one of the hugest upsets in recent WSHSHP history.

And while you're at it, maybe you send some love Scott Crawford's way, too. He's the Spartan goaltender who stopped a Zachary Dyedahl breakaway early in the overtime that would have caused parties along the Apple River the likes of which haven't been witnessed since Somerset's Schachtner Family appeared on Wife Swap back in two thousand aught six.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

TZMAN Climbs to Top of Leaderboard, Prematurely Celebrates with Fake Trophy

He is a man of few words and even fewer moves with the puck, but with all of Thursday's scores now in the can, personal financial guru Todd Zwiaska finds himself all alone at the top of the WSHSHP pack. Todd's 71 points represent a very fast start for the crafty winger from Mill Valley.

Right behind Todd is Mark Pellegrino. This office has a strange feeling this could be the year for the brooding Pellegrino. We'll know for sure if there is any bite behind his bark after tomorrow's Monona Grove game.

Third place is filled by three pool veterans. Lucas Rudy has picked a bracket that belies his tender age, while perpetual dolphin molester Blake Feist and perpetual Blake Feist molester Stu Keith are showing real promise early in the competition.

Other developing storylines: Will Wayne Lee see his dream of a first page finish finally come true? Is Yago Colás (oh, great, another accent) more than merely an excellent speller? Will Juliana Cobb's long absence from the WSHSHP affect her endurance as the tourney grinds on? This is riveting stuff, people.

On a sad note, we lost some more participants to the dead pool this evening. Andrew Glocker and Kettle Moraine/Mukwonago have gone the way of the Commissioner's hairline, as has (and this one really hurts) Michelle Gagne Ballard, whose shift of allegiance from Northland Pines to Appleton United proved as beneficial to her prospects as this reporter's switch from Pabst Blue Ribbon to heroin. I know it hurts, guys, but take comfort in the fact that you've done what millions, nay billions, of people worldwide have never even dreamed of: tasted, however briefly, the sweet succor of camaraderie that comes to all who enter this hallowed pool.

God bless you, and God bless Wisconsin high school hockey.

I bid you all a good night.

Proof that I'm more than just a pretty face.

'Nuff said.

FIRST STUNNER: SPASH Knocks Off Wausau East, TJ Hanson and Tom Baldwin Look Like Geniuses

Final Score: #7 Stevens Points beats #2 Wausau East, 2-1.

Hansen and Baldwin predicted this game correctly. Did anyone else?

Tom Baldwin raises a girlie drink to the SPASH Panthers.