Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Commissioner Chooses Wrong Day to Go Skiing; Lacy Locks up First Ever WHSHP Title After Thrilling Double-Overtime Thriller

The thrill of victory...

The agony of defeat...
Wow, with my only connection to yesterday's instant classic being the occasional hysterical text from Erik Moe, I knew something great was happening. Little did I know just how great. The Notre Dame Academy Tritons finally reached the promised land with an amazing come from behind win that have many in atttendance calling one of the most exciting games ever played on the Big Ice.

And with that dramatic, double-ovetiue victory, Joe Lacy brings home his first ever WHSHP Title. Riding the crest a perfect 26-for-26 opening round that caught everyone's eye, the soft-spoken Lacy proved to all the doubters that there's still room on The Big Ice for quiet dignity and an ardent love of dachshunds. Lacy could not be reached for comment at his rural Belleville home at press time but has scheduled a press conference for later in the week. 

A mystery man even in victory's sweet spotlight, Lacy (far right)
appears to be already pondering next year's brackets at a small
victory gathering at his local race track.
It was a heart-breaking loss for Lucas Rudy, one of the few bracketeers with the testicular fortitude to choose Wausau West to repeat in 2012. But as we've seen time and again with this pool: The Big Ice doesn't build character; it reveals it. You have a long life ahead of you, kid. Take solace in that fact that your pain has given a middle-aged former tuba player in rural Wisconsin some much needed glory.

A bitter Lucas Rudy fends off reporters moments
after Appleton's overtime goal.
More details to follow, including our annual post-tounrey awards presentation. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 2, 2012

BIG ICE BREAKDOWN #2: Verona vs. Notre Dame


Ah, Green Bay. The Paris of the Fox Valley.
Verona is a friendly enough place, but it's basically just another suburb in the sprawling wasteland that is the Madison Metro area. Green Bay is Wisconsin's Oldest City and self-proclaimed Toilet Paper Capital of the World. Green Bay, you had me at Toilet Paper.



Phil Kessel 
Two current NHL players started their careers in Verona: Jack Skille and Phil Kessel. That's damn impressive. Dawn of the Dead director Jack Snyder hails from the city by the Bay. Other notable residents: the entire roster of the Green Bay Chill, a member in good standing of the always competitive Lingerie Football League. Green Bay, you had me at Lingerie.

The one sport that can get me to stop obsessing about high school


Wildcats vs. Tritons? Oh, please.



Verona is atop the Big Eight, while NDA owns the Fox River Classic Conference. I think I've already made known my feelings on the word "classic."


Verona sports a Sven, a Brogan, and Tarek, and a Kegan. That's awesome, even for an episode of Star Trek. Notre Dame gives us Miko Filon and Anton Brix. Two cool full names beats four awesome first names every time.



Actually, I prefer Verona's jersey in this category. Solid consistency both home and away:

But what's that? A misplaced apostrophe? If there is one thing this office will not tolerate, it's a misplaced apostrophe, especially in a team hockey poster. For the first time ever, I am disqualifying Verona from the uniform competition. Don't bother arguing, Wildcat fans. I have spoken. We don't even have to see the NDA jersey.



The Verona hockey program is an amazing study in how to do it correctly. Through a solid youth program with excellent coaching, they have worked their way up the ladder to truly elite status in the state. Kudos. They've been to The Big Ice four times and, in the words of Gary Clement, have "paid the price" while there. Notre Dame is returning for a third time, and gets a little closer very time.

ADVANTAGE: VERONA (only because I feel bad about the uniform DQ)

This is going to be a very, very good game.

BIG ICE BREAKDOWN #1: Wausau West vs. Brookfield


Hmmm. Wausau has a minor league baseball team named the Woodchucks. And there's Rib Mountain. Brookfield is a suburb of Milwaukee, which is sort of like being the blander cousin to Prince Charles.

ADVANTAGE: Wausau West


Al Capone owned a home in Brookfield where he made moonshine. Two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk lives there, as did the late, great Arpad Elo, inventor of the Elo rating system for chess.

Arpa Elo reflects on the secret
to Warrior success.
Famous Wausauians include football great Jim Otto, NASCAR host Nicole Manske, and folk singer John McCutcheon who has given us, among other classics, All God's Critters.

ADVANTAGE: Brookfield


This is a tough call. There is more than one Warrior team out there, so Stars get the points for being more unique. But I like that Wausau West isn't bowing to the PC police and changing its name to the Panthers or Wildcats. Hmmm.



Wausau West hails from the Wisconsin Valley conference. Brookfield comes from the Classic 8, which makes me think of Classic Rock, which makes me think of Bad Company, which makes me think of the song that was playing that time I volunteered at the Edgefest haunted house and my zombie makeup distracted an unsuspecting girl from my acne long enough for a long and undeserved makeout session. This one is a rout.

ADVANTAGE: Brookfield


A quick check of Wausau's roster reveals a Zakk Augustine, a Tanner Gould, and a Seth Wage. Brookfield counters with a Zak Pipers, but the double k takes out the single k every time.

ADVANTAGE: Wausau West


This might prove a shock to some of you. Initially I was not a huge fan of the Brookfield logo and the stripes on their breezers are right out of Rocky 3. But I have been watching a lot of Project Runway All-Stars and there is something to be said about taking a chance and being a little fashion forward (see the Cooper All-sporting Edgewood Cruskaters circa 1982). But I just cannot abide the dated asymmetrical striping motif.

Still, there's something off with Wausau West's get-up, and the white numbers on the back instead of gold is almost a fatal flaw, but the simple but powerful interpretation of a familiar mascot crest, combined with consistent helmet decal application across the roster, gives the very slightest edge to Wausau West.

Not sure what is coming out of this kid's pants, but I humbly beseech him to
take care of the situation.
Spot the fashion error here? A gold crest front deserves a gold number
on the back, with white accent for easy viewing.  It's like two different jerseys.
ADVANTAGE: (And I might still change my mind on this one) Wausau West


Wausau West has been to the dance more times than Ivo Knezevic has been to Shutters on the Beach, winning the whole thing back in 2011. This is Brookfield's second trip the Big Ice, and their first since the year Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield's ear.

ADVANTAGE: Wausau West

BIG ICE PREDICTION: Wausau West 4, Brookfield 2

Big Day of Hockey, Lacy Claws His Way Back to Top

It's humiliating to be busted by work colleagues watching porn at your desk (or so I've been told) but I will admit to also feeling somewhat sheepish about being caught watching Wisconsin high school hockey yesterday. Whatever.

This reporter was able to take in a lot of action despite a crazy work day. Verona looks really good. Notre Dame looks awesome, too. But you want to know who else looks great?

Joe Lacy (left) neglects his pit boss duties to radio in for
a Big Ice update.
Belleville's Joe Lacy, one of the finest tuba players to ever grace the auditorium of Edgewood High School, finds himself alone at the top of the WHSHP pyramid, just three point ahead of Blake Feist and five points ahead of former champ, Mark Jobson.

Would you trust your landscape ecology with this man?
It was a crushing day for Erik Moe, who once again watched his title dreams fall apart faster than one of his advertising campaigns in a Des Moines focus group. The embittered Moe slips to 5th, but according to calculations by a certain landscape ecologist in Seattle, he has no chance of besting Feist, his former bandmate, should Verona go all the way. Ditto for the rest of the Top 10, which includes a surprising appearance by Fort Wayne's Steve Miller and a host of other also rans. 

Steve "Wildman" Miller shares  a special moment
with an unknown man wearing Mom jeans.
So it comes down to this, again according to a landscape ecologist with as sturdy a grasp on statistics as this half-awake English major.
Joe Lacy takes the coveted WSHSHP (sic) Title if GBND are champions, I [Blake Feist] take the Title if Verona is champ and Luke Rudy will hold the Title if WW is the champ. God help us if Brookfield wins the championship.
Indeed, Professor Feist. Indeed.

Next up: My Final Four Big Ice Breakdown

Thursday, March 1, 2012

God Bless Wisconsin High School Hockey

Because, really, what other sport gives you an excuse to drink hard liquor in the middle of the work day?

Technology is a wonderful thing.

I'm not going to lie. Technology and I have a love-hate relationship. I've screamed epithets at my iPhone's Siri that I haven't even thought about screaming at Anne Coulter. But sometimes I want to reach out with my flabby, hirsute arms and embrace technology, like right now when I can set at my desk in stormy California, the rain overhead drowning out the voices in my head, and take in a live TV broadcast of some Wisconsin High School hockey, compliments of the good people at PrepSportsWisconsin.com.

God bless you, Technology. And God Bless Wisconsin High School Hockey.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Proof in the pudding.

Lest you thought the Commissioner was being his usual smug smart ass with the dachshund comment from last night, I offer these photos fresh from our viewer mail drop:

Complete with paw rails.
Yes, those are skid pads on the ramp to keep the
dog from shooting off the end like a furry bowling pin.
The moral of this story: If any of you reincarnate as a dog in the next life, you want my sister to be your master.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Look at the Leader Board

Well, kids, we are down to the Great Eight. Even now, as I watch a very emotional and tension-filled reunion on Teen Mom Finale Special, eight bruised and battered squads from the four corners of the state are packing for a weekend of glory-hunting and, if Junior is correct, a dramatically improved ice hockey experience at the Alliant Center. (I'll believe it when I see it.)

Sure, we have the usual suspects showing up for another dance upon The Big Ice. Superior, Eau Claire Memorial, and Wausau West. But you also have your relative late bloomers in Notre Dame Academy, the Fightin' Cinderellas of Brookfield, Marquette University, and Verona. And then you have your genuine new kid on the block: the Sparta/West Salem/Bangor Vipers making their very first appearance down state. 

It wasn't so long ago that WHSHP veteran Erik Moe had a public feud with the late great Oakie Brumm over the WIAA's decision to allow private schools into the tourney. Oakie predicted the demise of public school hockey program. Looks like Oakie's prediction, much like this reporter's most recent coital response, was just a tad premature.

Erik Moe eyes a possible 2012 title.
Erik might be right about something else, too, as his name know appears atop the WHSHP Leader Board. The wily veteran, so often a bridesmaid but never a bride, looks to be in a great position to break his long title drought, as he one of the few contenders to choose Verona to win it all. Moe's 164 points are good enough for a one-point lead cover the still-dashing Mark Pellegrino, who has hitched his wagon to Superior.

Fung on fire.
Creighton Fung has his own engraved seat on the Spartan bandwagon, and has ridden it straight into sole possession of third place, one point ahead of fashion trendsetter Mike Moore and this year's version of the Sparta Vipers, Joe Lacy.

Jaime Moe and Jacques Cousteau-wannabe Blake Feist are wrestling like playground bullies over fifth place (157 points) while Trasher Trzinski tussles with the always mysterious Donkey for sixth. Rounding out our own version of the Final Eight is former champion Mark Jobson with 155 points and—look who's still around—Brian Kobylinski with 154 points, good for an 8th place tie with the dynamic duo of Analisa Rudy and Eric Mott. The pool's only couple could not be reached for comment at their tony Madison home, as they were busy installing handicapped ramps for their incapacitated dachshund. (True story.)

More details to follow as we race like a cheese-fueled rocket toward Thursday. Until then, keep it real, friends, and please join God and me in blessing Wisconsin High School Hockey.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Friday Night Roundup

Sparta 4, Onalaska 3
Doesn't matter what sport or or at what level; it's just plain hard to beat the same team three times in one season. Top-seeded Onalaska found that out the hard way Friday night. Despite winning 17 of their last 18 games, the Hilltoppers couldn't take care of Sparta when it mattered most, losing a tight contest 4-3. I've had a soft spot for Sparta since (1) I learned their name was the Vipers and (2) I visited their home rink during my grand tour two years ago. It's easily the most intimidating rink in Wisconsin. Low ceilings, boards that haven't been painted since Lynn Dickey played for the Packers, dog-fighting at center ice between periods. Okay, I'm making up the last part, but the place is scary. So beware a red-hot Viper team as they make their very first trip to Madison.

Superior 3, New Richmond 0
After a 3-0 revenge victory over New Richmond, the boys in powder blue, er, Columbia Blue, make their 34th trip to state. The games was played in front of 1000+ screaming fans in Amery. (If you want an exciting hockey atmosphere, fill a smaller rink; are you listening WIAA?) The Spartans have to be considered a clear favorite in Madison, having lost to only one Wisconin-based team all year. That one team? Oh, that would be Notre Dame Academy, their first round opponent on the slush and drat droppings that pass for an ice surface at the Alliant Center. I'm booking my flight now. Yeeeehaaawwwww.

I'm torn about the the New Richmond jerseys. I like a big number
but is the font too fancy for the practice jersey-style design on the
top? Talk amongst yourselves.
Eau Claire Memorial 8, Chippewa Falls 4
Interesting fact: Despite being the powerhouse that they are, the Old Abes have never been to state three years in a row. Until now. ECM shows real grit in coming back from a 2-0 and 3-2 deficit to run away with a victory against an equally gritty Chippewa Falls squad, proving that it's not just the not-so-gritty North Bay Blackjacks who can't hold a lead when it counts.

I haven't see people this excited about a trophy since
I showed up at Rocky's with the Wooden Plank.
When captains collide, everyone wins.
Wausau West 6, Northland Pines 1
I'm really getting tired of these hot shot freshmen kicking so much serious ass in this year's tourney. Yet another too-young-to-see Porky's newbie, Kevin Conley, rises to the occasion with a huge hat trick to lead Wausau West back to state with a convincing 6-1 thumping of Northland Pines.

Brookfield 2, Fondy 1
There was a barn burner at Wilson park, my old stomping grounds when I was a bench warmer for Marquette University's club hockey team. 1600+ were on hand to watch Brookfield prove that a low seed, like a body fat measurement, is only a number. They end Fondy's Cinderella run with a thrilling 2-1 win. While one feel-good story ends, another takes its next chapter to Madison. Brookfield's top 5 scorers are seniors and they understand this is their last chance for glory.

Notre Dame Academy 2, Bay Port 0
Sometimes a great goalie is all you need. But only sometimes. Bay Port's Nate Eminger stops 27 shots in the first two periods to keep the game scoreless, but Notre Dame finally slips one past him in the third, then adds an empty netter, to eek out a win over the Pirates. Equally crushing was my first exposure to the Bay Port uniform, which was about as anticlimactic as discovering it was my son, and not our comely next door neighbor, who placed a Valentine on my car windshield a few short weeks ago.

Nate Eminger ponders what might have been had the powers to be put
an ounce of imagination into his team's uniform design.
Marquette 3, Kettle Morraine/Mukwonago 2
Speaking of uniform crimes, I was stunned to see this photo of KM's hockey jersey:

Remind you of anyone? Need a hint?

A travesty. The fashion gods render their verdict. And it is just.

Verona 4, Middleton 2
We'll leave it to Mike Moore to verify, but rumor has it that this was a great game. For a nice change of pace, it was a senior, and an ailing one at that, who made the difference here. Wildcat Ben Scherschel was sporting a bad wheel, but still broke open a 2-2 tie with only his fourth goal of the year and sent Verona to The Big Ice for another shot at all the cheese. It's not the number of goals you score, Ben, it's when you score them. Well done.

Next up: A look at the leader board.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who is Owen Fenby?

In today's mail, we found the following video submitted for your consideration by faithful WHSHP participant Tom Hansen. See how many WHSHP bracketeers, past and present, you can identify in this heart-wrenching tale of greed and lost souls:

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Look at the Leader Board

Who said picking upsets doesn't pay off?

Moore's excellent choices
do not extend to
Riding high on his choice of Chippewa Falls, Mark Pellegrino maintains his lead over a relatively tight field, although with favored teams falling faster than the Commissioner on a third period power play, the point totals are down across the board.

Pellegrino's less-than-staggering 123 points are still good enough for sole possession of first place, while Mike Moore (120 points) saw his choice of Sparta over Rapids lock up the silver medal for another round.

Luke Rudy takes the WHSHP
very, very seriously.
And what if one had the cajones to choose both Chippewa Falls and Sparta to advance? What would that do to one's standing? Why not ask Lucas Rudy or Oliver Albrecht? The daring youth and wily veteran, as odd a couple as you'll find in these oftentimes odd proceedings, did just that and saw themselves rocketed into a third place tie with 118 points a piece. Many feel Albrecht has never gotten over his heartbreaking and highly controversial loss to Tracy DeLuca a few years back but a new country and a new attitude may have been just what the doctor ordered for Herr Albrecht. We shall see.

Entrepreneurial spirit Jaime Moe is right behind the Daring Duo in fourth (117), just one point ahead of his older brother Erik and the still unidentified Donkey.

If that familial rivalry is not uncomfortable enough for you, take a look at the 6th slot, where Peter Rudy and his wife Shauna share an awkward matrimonial bed with former champion Mark Jobson. (Spoiler alert: Jobson has Restless Leg Syndrome.) Still, Shauna deserves her kudos as she too breathes the rarefied air of the those who chose both Chippewa Falls and Sparta to advance.

Rounding out the Top 10:

Leading the number 7 slot is Erik Smolin, our first contender for Rookie of the Year. He might not have that title looked up yet, but I've already engraved his name into this year's Most Likely to Be Mistaken for a Member of the Cure trophy. He shares that slot with Dan Caplan and defending champ Brian Kobylinski who, once again, is sneaking his way up the charts.

Gloves Off Middendorf (shown here with unidentified woman) gives us
a rare glimpse of his more sensitive side.
We've got Todd Zwiaska, Kelli Dornfeld, Creighton Fung, and Gloves Off Middendorf  holding hands in 8th place, and Stu Keith and strong starter Joe Lacy doing the same in 9th. Everyone's favorite Landscape Ecologist, Blake Feist, rounds out the leader board in 10th.

More details and previews to follow. Stay tuned to The Big Ice. And God bless Wisconsin High School Hockey.

True that.

Compliments of Jeff Caplan, currently mired in 23rd place in the WHSHP standings.

Another night of hockey. Another round of upsets.

Who's happier? That dude with the blue headband in the second row or the
pig in the board advertisement? Brookfield scores huge win against Homestead.
(I'm not even going to talk about that jersey logo. Or the stars on the 
breezers. Dear God, they have stars on their breezers.)
This is how it usually goes when a #1 seed takes on a significantly lower seed in the Wisconsin High School Tournament:

Kettle Morraine 6, Janesville 1
Green Bay Notre Dame 8, Fox Cities 1
Superior 7, Siren Co-op 3
Eau Claire Memorial 8, Checkamognodanom/Phillips (close enough) 1

Some have tougher sledding:

Verona 8, Waunakee 6
Wausau West 4, Mosinee 2
Onalaska 3, Baraboo 1

Judging by how enthusiastically these Verona Wildcats are
celebrating this goal, it must be very early in the game, before
the dreaded Goal Scoring Celebration Exhaustion Syndrome 
set in during an 8-6 contest.
And occasionally, only VERY occasionally, you get a genuine shocker. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:

Brookfield 7, Homestead 2

Well, actually, it's not that much of a shocker. I'm too lazy to figure out why Brookfield (ranked #15 on the Power Rankings) was only a #4 seed, and the two teams played a close game earlier this season, so the winner is not all that shocking. What's shocking is the margin of victory. That's a genuine ass-thumping, and we have yet another red-hot team playing its best hockey when the games matter most.

Speaking of red-hot, did I not call your attention to Fon du Lac. MJ tells us Fondy coach Ryan Sarazin had a funny feeling in his gut about his Cards. And his players are proving it was more than that questionable burrito he microwaved at Rotten Robbie's. Fresh off their huge upset of USM, the Cards took on their cross-town rivals, St. Mary's Springs, and won AGAIN,

Now I love a good lead-in sentence as much as the next hockey lover, so let me tip my foul-smelling cap to Fon du Lac Reporter's Michael Rogers, who started his tale of last night's drama with these immortal words:
The question wasn't, "Who would be a hero? But who would be the last hero?" 
Am I the only one with goose bumps?

The answer to Rogers' question proved to be another peaking-way-too-early freshman named Jack Nejedlo, who scored with 14 ticks remaining on the clock to give Fondy another huge win in this year's roller coaster of a tournament.

2012 will prove a lousy year to be a #2 seed. Only half of them have made it out of this opening week, as last night Chippewa Falls snuck by Rice Lake and Sparta took it to Wisconsin Rapids. That last game was a real barn-burner, full of the stuff that makes hockey great. Rapids had a comfortable two goal lead late in the third period, but the Vipers came storming back for a dramatic 5-4 overtime victory. Rapids forward Zach Campbell score two goals in the loss. You may remember him as the diminutive but feisty skater who caught my eye two years ago in Madison. Nice to hear the senior skater went out strong, even if the Rapids loss has Trasher tearing the stuffing out of his Power Rangers pillow.

That's it more upsets, folks. Everything else went according to the numbers. Up next: A look at the leader board.

Chippewa Falls: Now that's a jersey design that never gets old.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

More Twitter Trash Talk

You gotts love Trasher and tyne boys for aggregating all the various social, radio, and streaming hockey feeds in one place. Spotted this Tweet from an Oregon fan, who claims that Panther fans will be showing up to Middleton tonight in all black. I'm no high school kid, but I do know that an all-black student section would be pretty cool, even if I don't know what FBU stands for (though I'm pretty sure it translates into "Oregon is gonna fight bravely and with ubiquitariness tonight!").

You gotta love a team that brings along its own TV network...

Yes, I am still at work, but when I can sit my ass down in a dusk-kissed Berkeley studio and still take in a little live Wisconsin High School hockey, who can really complain? This is the LIVE FEED to tonight's Eau Claire Memorial game, brought to you by the Old Abes themselves via the Wisconsin Prep Hockey website. It's between periods, but even the sound and sights of the Zamboni passing through frame warms the cockles of this reporter's cholesterol-clogged heart.

I also like that the cameraman between periods zooms into close-ups of people in the seats. He has already busted one woman (I think it was a woman; hard to tell in the toque) picking her nose. And I am almost positive I just saw a guy spit into a chew cup. God, I miss Wisconsin.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Commissioner's dream comes true.

Somewhere in the midst of my 90 minute chat with the boys from WiPH last night, I realized I had not been this interested in a conversation in months. I'm not sure that's a good thing, really, but hearing the good-natured banter between the WiPH staff reminded me of how much fun life can be when you're doing something for love instead of just a paycheck. And these guys love their Wisconsin High School Hockey.

They also love their cats. Here is a photo of Trasher's two cats doing a reasonable impersonation of me in front of the net in tonight's 4-2 loss to the Lizard Kings. The cat on the left is named P.R. A coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, tonight a teammate from the Blackjacks sheepishly admitted that he listened to almost an hour of the podcast from work today. And he's not even signed up for this year's brackets. Sure, a jaded person would conclude this teammate doesn't have much of a life, but I beg to differ. He's just got himself a little Wisconsin High School Hockey Fever. And as many of you know only to well, it's more contagious than the Spanish Flu. (Please excuse the Downton Abbey reference.)

"I've got a fever. And the only cure is more Wisconsin High School Hockey."
So for those of you with the fever, I strongly encourage you to send a little love their way to help cover the costs of their tourney coverage from Madison. MJ and company broadcast every second of every game from the rotting corpse that is the Dane County Coliseum and with just a little help from you all, they might be able to upgrade their hard-earned nightcaps from Milwaukee's Best to Pabst. Oh, the humanity.

E. Moe Redefines Vicarious Glory

I'll admit it, I see a little Moe in Max Mantey's determined
facial expression. It's the same look Erik makes whenever he has to
get off his couch to retrieve the TV remote.  (Photo: Wm. Glasheen/Post-Crescent)
The offices of WHSHP received a missive earlier this week from one E. Moe, wishing to tout the exploits of Fox Cities' Max Mantey, who scored the winning goal in his team's victory over Ashwaubenon earlier this week. Turns out Max is a cousin of Erik's. And while we think it's great that Erik is sending out a shout out to his people, we can't help but think that Mr. Moe is merely attempting to fill the vacuum left by his own less-than-stellar performance on the Big Ice when games really counted.

Still, we won't hold that against Max. Kudos to you, sir. Score another one for your much, much older cousin on Tuesday.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Our WHSHP Family Portrait

Was checking stats on the site today, and was amused to see from where some of the recent visitors to the site came. On the left, we can see that Mr. Blake Feist, who is supposed to be tanning on the beaches of some Hawaiian resort, is actually logging on to get his daily dose of high school hockey news. (I salute you, sir!) And look over there on the right. That has to be our friend Oliver Albrecht, whose career might have taken him abroad to his soccer-loving people, but whose heart is still so obviously back in America's Dairyland. Sie sind ein guter Mann, liebe liebhaber der Fussball!

I've said it, time again. The Big Ice is merely a vessel; it's the people who come to play who make it so damn special. And let me completely frank: this is not the Leinenkugel's talking.

Somewhere in Texas, a schoolmaster weeps into his loafers.

Just a few short posts ago, I complained of the lack of upsets in this most hallowed of hockey competitions. Well, apparently several Wisconsin prep teams have conspired to prove me an ass.
I said University School ICE hockey, not FIELD hockey. Damn
This is no hard task, mind you, but still, with my head still reeling from news of the stunners that took place Thursday night, imagine my gap-mouthed wonder (and no small delight) at the news that the #2-seeded Gleaming Escalades of University School had made an uncharacteristically early exit from the tourney. In a classic blue-collar vs. popped-up collar grudge match, the Cardinals of Fon du Lac skated into Milwaukee and handed the Wildcats a 4-1 thumping on the strength of one shorthanded goal, two power play tallies, and an empty netter.

"The played like they wanted it more," mused the awesomely named USM Coach Cal Roadhouse. Indeed.

MUS had manhandled the sub-500, #7-seeded Cards earlier in the season, so no one saw this coming. Certainly not anyone in the WHSP Pool. But it's why they play the game, kids, not to mention why I weep like a schoolgirl every time I watch Miracle.

The rest of Friday went as expected, with #1 seeds Marquette and Kettle Morraine/Mukwonago making strong statements, and favorites Chippewa Falls and Brookfield advancing in their respective sectionals.

So what does this mean for the pool?

Mark greets news of his #1 ranking the same
way he greets every day: in a tuxedo.

Well, for starters we have a new leader. With a strong second round showing, George Clooney doppelganger Mark Pellegrino has knocked Joe Lacy from his perch atop the leader board, storming to a 3-point lead over Fox news hound Mike Moore and a 6-point lead over pool veteran Jaime Moe. Noted animal killer Stu Keith leads a pack of prognosticators in the fourth place slot, including a still-fighting Lacy, an always bitter Erik Moe and a mystery contender who goes by the name of Donkey (so we think we already like him.) Donkey, we demand you show yourself. There is nothing to be ashamed of here.

Defending champ Brian Kobylinski finds himself mired in 28th place, and is already battling the Flash in the Pan label. But he's a notorious strong finisher, so this reporter is not counting him out just yet. More details to follow in the days leading up to Tuesday's next batch of games. So, please, stay tuned. And stay cool.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lakeland Overcomes Odds and Inferior Uniform Design to Pull Off Tourney's First Stunner

Bill Berg, WiPH
It today's installment of Didn't See That Coming, the Thunderbirds of Lakeland traveled to the frigid confines of Greenheck Arena last night and handed #2-seeded DC Everest a stunning defeat. WiHP's Bill Berg was there to witness and you can read his account here, but suffice to say that freshman Nik Boyer might as well hang up his skates now, as he has obviously achieved his greatest athletic moment on the ice (while some of us still wait for it night after lonely night in senior hockey beer leagues around the great land).

It's sort of shame. DC Everest has a pretty cool uniform: 

Unique logo on front, not too busy, tasteful helmet decal accessories, and let's face it, the stripe through the numbers on the back is simply to die for. But in the words of our patron saint, Owen Fenby, "That's hockey."

It's was far from our only upset, either. 6th-seeded Waupaca, lead by two goals from Bjorn Asher, gave 3rd-seeded Green Bay United a thorough ass-kicking in Sectional 5, out-shooting the mascot-less Boys from the Bay (TM) 45-22 in the process. (Apparently it's not only the Packers who choke in big games.)

In Section 7, 6th-seeded Stoughton squeaked out an upset over Waukesha North and what's this? 6th- seeded Oregon did the same to Sun Prairie in Sectional 6? The latter contest was a 1-0 defensive showdown that I imagine was as thrilling as watching soccer. But a win is a win, and Oregon could turn out to be this year's biggest surprise.

Thursday could have been even more epic had the puck bounced a little differently in Middleton, where the 2-seeded Cardinals barely got by a gritty Madison West squad, 3-2, and in Rice Lake, where yet another team named the Warriors (YAWN) broke Altoonian hearts everywhere (including Anchorage, Alaska, where WHSHP veteran Jamie Ditttrich can be heard weeping into his clogs).

Details and leaderboard updates to follow. But I'll leave you with this:


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wisconsin Prep Hockey's Best Night

Whitefish Bay's Sean Leahy will have his hands full when 
he takes his blocker to Janesville tonight.
Sure, it's fun to see a #9 knock off a #8 on Tuesday (see DePere outgunning Oshkosh, or Germantown taking a bite out of the Fightin' Bratwurst of Sheboygan) but the real fun begins this evening, when #5s clash with #4's all over the state.

The level of play is higher, the rivalries stronger, and some of the matchups way too close to call.

I've already mentioned the Marshfield v. Chequemegon/Phillips battle, but take a look at a few of these other games taking place tonight:

Mosinee (5) at Stevens Point (4)
Only one team separates these two teams in the statewide power rankings and even though Mosinee has the higher ranking, not to mention the scoring machine tandem of Bryce Hladovcak (39-28-67) and Jared Sprink (28-33-61), SPASH won the only head-to-head matchup this season. Five Panthers scored in that 5-3 home victory. The Panthers host again tonight. This one, much like choosing which of the Jersey Shore girls to marry, is just too close to call.

Whitefish Bay (5) vs. Janesville (4)
Another power ranking matchup separated by just one slot, Whitefish Bay has some impressive victories (over Oregon) as well as some clinkers (loss to Kenosha). They swept Arrowhead this season, while Janesville lost their only game against this common opponent. And while Janesville shocked University School earlier this season, they also settled for a tie against once great, now lowly Madison West. I haven't seen such erratic behavior from two entities since the night Erik Moe drank a 32-ounce Red Bull before challenging the Boogie King of Iowa City to a dance off at Nicky's Supper Club. Someone is going to walk out of Janesville Ice a winner tonight, just don't ask me to choose the right one.

Ashwaubenon (5) vs. Fox Cities (4)
The Jaguars of Ashwaubenon are the lower seed. They also sport a slightly lower power ranking. Yet they earned the 3-1 victory over Fox Cities in their only meeting this season. Can they capture lightning in a bottle twice? We'll find out in a few short hours.

It's going to be a great night of hockey, ladies and gentlemen. Mike Moore promises to tweet from the Madison Edgewood vs. Waunakee tilt. And the boys over at Wisconsin Prep Hockey will be covering the rest.

Will Joe Lacy hold on to his lead as tightly as he grips a lug wrench while tweaking the chassis extension nipple on a 1967 Ford Mustang? Will the Blizzard of Webster-Siren-Frederic-Luck-Grantsburg becomes the first 34-letter team to make the state tourney's third round? Will the Commissioner finally lose what's left of his dignity when his new work colleagues bust him blogging about high school hockey?

Stay tuned.