Sunday, March 3, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 1, 2013

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

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

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

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

Do you believe in miracles?

Brian Kobylinski does.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Project Runway Meets the Final Eight: Game 3


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Project Runway Meets the Final Eight: Game 2


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

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

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

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

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

Let's move on to Notre Dame.

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

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

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

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

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


Project Runway Meets the Final Eight: Game 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But watch what happens when make the transition to white:

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

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


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

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The devil is in the details.

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

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


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

Stand by for Fashion Breakdown 2013.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Commish Suffers Another Setback; Vows to Soldier On

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

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

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

Injury or subtle message to the WIAA? You decide.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Feist Breaks Free; Koby and Mott Hot on Trail

Number crunching.

OK, I am calculating the new leaderboard, taking into account the WR win for 23 of you. While we tabulate, please enjoy this musical interlude:

Thrill of victory.

Behold this majestic photo posted by Reedsburg Sports on Twitter, showcasing the absolutely packed house at Hartmeyer tonight for the big Edgewood/Verona showdown. It's all the proof you need why Sectional Finals are so much better than the games that follow in the dimly lit festering sore that is the Alliant Center. But I digress.

ND Pounds Appleton, 11-0 (Not a Typo)

Apparently the toughest battles ND faced today was over who would be the first to hug the goal scorer.
Photo: Lukas Keapprot/Green Bay Press-Gazette
Waiting for details from Bergler and Company but it appears our friends at Appleton United forgot to pack their brains to today's sectional final showdown with Green Bay Notre Dame. With the way Appleton players kept tripping over themselves to secure a space in the sin bin, I've got to think they fell for the rumor that someone had posted racy photos of Miley Cyrus on the penalty box door. You can't play stupid hockey and hope to beat a team as loaded as ND. United found out the hard way, eleven times. Eleven. Ouch.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Ruling on Sectional 4

Before I make my ruling here, let me remind everyone that I barely survived a Pass/Fail grade for the easiest math course offered at Lawrence University: Statistics. But from my lofty perch atop a pigeon shit-splattered statue of The Bard, here is what I see...

We can't count any points for Sectional 4 until we get to rounds where teams are actually playing each other in reality. No one should get credit for correctly choosing a game that did not actually take place.  Call me a purist.

After perusing the brackets with a concentration usually reserved for episodes of Project Runway, I have concluded that the only fair way to assign any points to this travesty of a sectional is to reward those who correctly choose the sectional winner.

So in a nutshell:

If Wisconsin Rapids prevails at Poppy Waterman Arean tomorrow night, 24 of of you will pick up some much-needed points.

The real gamebreaker will be if West Salem/Bangor pulls off the upset. Then everyone gets nada except for Stu Keith and TJ Hansen, the extremely close hunting pals from the prairie lands who saw enough potential in the Panthers to grant them their first ticket to the Big Ice. The Wonder Duo could pick up lots of ground on your safe bettors if those boys in the Black and Orange continue their magical march onward.

Cool team logos on the socks? Maybe Keith and Hansen are onto something?
I have spoken. Let the whining commence!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lots of action last night, including some downright thrillers. Here is a quick round-up of Tuesday's most memorable match-ups:

Waukesha wins defensive "thriller" in a game where neither uniform deserved to win.
Photo: Tom Lynn, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Waukesha North 1, Marquette 0 (OT)
The last time these two played, the score was 9-7 in Waukesha's favor. So it only stands to reason that the rematch would be a 1-0 overtime goaltending extravaganza.

Homestead 6, Arrowhead 1
Heavily favored Arrowhead craps the bed in a loss to red-hot Homestead. What did losing coach Mike Watt have to say about his team's nine, count 'em, nine penalties? "We're not playing table tennis out there, it's hockey." A serious Cinderella story brewing in Mequon.

West Salem/Bangor 3, Onalaska 2
And a frosh shall lead them. Bailey Martin scores winning goal in West Salem/Bangor's win over Onalaska, an upset that will sure shake up the ranks of the WSHSHP leaderboard.

Whitefish Bay/Nicolet/Shorewood 3, Kettle Morraine/Mukwonago 2 (OT)
WNS tallies three straight goals to storm (see what I did there?) back from 2-0 deficit. Talk about your evenly matched games. WNS had 42 shots on goal. KMM had 41. What a difference a single shot can make (on the ice as well as in, say, a smoky bar in Northern Wisconsin one summer evening back in 1993).

Appleton United 3, DePere 2 (3 OT)
Not many details on this thriller, but it took three overtimes and 55 shots of Voyageurs goaltender Russ Kulick for Appleton United to prevail against upstart DePere.

Madison Edgewood 3, Middleton 2 (2 OT)
Another 2-0 early deficit, another overtime victory, this time for Madison Edgewood. The fact that it was over their arch rivals Middleton make it all the more special. (Remind me to talk to these guys about their logo.)

It's the  three spectator reactions that make this photo worth sharing.
Photo: Andy Manis/

In memoriam.

We lost some good soldiers last night, brave souls who dared to zig when others zagged. Granted some of the departed were dead (wo)men walking from the get go. Kelli Dornfeld, for example, fell for the oldest trick in the book and chased a cool team name (the Spooner Rails) over a reasonably seeded team (#10 seed, Kelli, really?).

Dear Kelli: Thanks for your support. Love, the Rails.
Rest easy, Kelli, knowing that even veterans like Jed "Vern" Resnik fall for the siren song of a cool team name. He saw potential in the Ashland Oredockers. Keep in mind that Jed also sees potential in the New York Jets. We salute you, Jed!

Jed Resnik: Lucky in love, unlucky in illegal betting on high school sports.
And let's not forget Tim Shore. This reporter will see the Minnesota Vikings win a Super Bowl before Tim will see his Rhinelander Hodags advance beyond the second round of the WIAA tourney. But hope, like my herpes, springs eternal. Thanks for playing Tim!

Tim Shore circa the last time Rhinelander had a winning record.
And stop laughing, Scott Erickson. Your choice of Baraboo as a state champion is almost as informed as Fox News viewer on election night. The Cool Name Curse strikes again!

Was is the cool name or the cool uniform? Only Scott Erickson knows.
But enough about the dummies. Let's save the real praise for the contenders who met their demise last night. We lost a former WSHSHP champion in Ivo Knezevic who, along with Todd Zwiaska and Kevin McMonagle, put all their eggs in a Middleton Cardinal nest torn asunder by Eliot Friedow's rebound goal in the second overtime of last night's astounding matchup with Madison Edgewood.

Ivo Knezevic: What, me worry?
Todd Z deals with his grief the only way he can: by rocking out to  Eddie Money cover tunes.
Back to the drawing board:
Kevin McMonagle and his prototype for the WSHSHP Predictatron 5000.
And how about Texan turned entrepreneur Leslie Ziegler? She was the only one among us brave enough to choose #2-seed Somerset to take the title. (Our own Andy Lindus was at the SRO Somerset/Hudson game last night and  reports that Somerset dominated the game against Hudson despite the final 3-0 score.)

Keep smiling, Ziegler. You're on to something.
Another lone wolf, Michelle Gagne Ballard, saw her choice, Northland Pines, get steamrolled by the SPASH Panthers, 5-1. I guess you can take the cheerleader out of Eagle River, but you can't take the dreamer out of Ms. Ballard.

You see a pashmina; I see a woman hiding a chest-wide Northland Pines tattoo.
Nice try, Ballard.
All fine, fine people. And the WSHSHP is a better pool for having known all of them. Now if you'll excuse, I have something in my eye.

Amid Rising Tide of Controversy, Commissioner Continues to Lead Quiet Life of Desperation

Yesterday morning your humble Commissioner attempted to shave off five days’ worth of silvery, thick facial hair with a cheap razor found in the trunk of his car/suitcase. It was quite simply a bloodbath, an injury made worse by getting locked out of the house a kind neighbor has lent his family for the week.  With bits of dissolving toilet paper dissolving on my face, I was forced to sprint barefoot through the rain to another neighbor’s house in order to procure the code that would gain my re-entry.

I plant this image in your fevered brains not for pity’s sake, but rather to give you the slightest glimpse into the travesty that is my life right now. It’s a life that would test the resolve of the burliest Baldwin-Woodville defenseman, and it is a life that has kept me at arm’s length from the one thing in this dying world that I truly care about: Wisconsin High School Hockey.

I sincerely apologize for the delays in my reportage. Last night was an evening of thrilling victories for several teams, and crushing defeats for several forward-thinking WSHSHP participants. I hope to provide an update as time permits, as well as shed some light on how we are going to handle that pesky Sectional 4 bracket.

 Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

MUS alumni respond to Homestead loss.

We tracked down as many University School peeps as our meager resources would allow, and their reaction to Thursday night's shocking lose to Homestead was pretty much the same. Please note John Stephens' reaction at 1:23. (He used to do this every time we tried to turn down the Bon Jovi on the locker room boom box back in the salad days.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

More viewer mail.

It always warms my heart to receive evidence that I am not the only one pretending to work at the office the last two weeks of February. This masterful example of Photoshop comes from pool veteran Tom Baldwin, whose choice for this year's champion is apparently inspired by a delightful set of erect nipples.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Tom. And what does it say about me that this is the first time I have ever let my eyes wander enough to realize that Sharona is sporting a wicked pair of mom jeans?

It's why they play the games, folks.

This reporter has been around a long time and he's seen his share of upsets, but the one that took place last night in Milwaukee just might take the proverbial cake. 7th-seeded Homestead skated University School right out of their popped-up collars, scoring twice in the third period to send the #2-seeded Wildcats fleeing to their respective country clubs several weeks earlier than anyone planned.

U School alumnus and WSHSHP verteran John Stephens could not be reached at his rural Texas home after the loss, but one can imagine there are puppies being kicked and LOTS of sherry being swilled. To paraphrase the poets that are Bad Company, "If you listen to the wind, you can still hear him whine..."

Of course, the mainstream media couldn't give a rat's ass about the game. There is nothing about this game written up anywhere, even at our beloved WiPH site. Below is is the only write up I could find, but we have come to expect this from the editors at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, whose tastes run much more toward sports that involved semi-nudity and our muscled boys wrestling.

Don't believe me? Here's what's featured on today's prep site:

So for everyone who needs their up-to-date diving news, you know where to turn.

The other barn burner took place at Greenheck Fieldhouse in Schofield, where D.C. Everest outlasted Antigo in three overtimes. The refs called not one, but two penalty shots in this game, with the final PS being the game decider. One hates to see the refs deciding a hard fought game like this but I wasn't there to see the alleged covering of the puck in the crease, so I'll defer to Trasher and his team to see if justice prevailed.

Cole Halligan (8) etches in his name in the D.C. Everest history book.
The Wausau Herald has a nice write-up on the game, calling it the most memorable hockey game in DC Everest's history. It was nothing less than joy to hear Matt Converse call the game on WiPH-provided link. Poor guy had no voice left my the end. But he did a great job of bringing the game to life for the listener, especially one lonely man who spent his Valentine's Day night in soiled boxers, listening to high school hockey. (In many ways you saved my life last night, Mr. Converse. Let's just leave it at that.)

As for the leaderboard, a surprisingly large number of you chose the Homestead upset, which I find somewhat shocking. But when the ice shavings settled on one of the most pitiful Valentine's Day nights this reporter has ever witnessed, only one of you held sole possession of first place.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. Mark Jobson, all alone at the top with 53 points.

Well, played, Mark. Let's see if you can handle the pressure. Because there are a load of veteran WSHSHP prognosticators breathing down your neck. In second place at 52 points, we have a three-way tie featuring Jaime Moe, Stu Keith and Blake Feist.

Sure, Jaime can stand atop a table, but can he stand atop a winner's podium?
Stu Keith wants to have a rationale discussion with you regarding the 2nd Amendment.

Feist has on his game face.
More action tonight. In fact it's already started. So I'm just going to kiss my children goodnight, claim I have lots of work to do, and retreat to the bedroom where I will wile away the evening listening to the siren song of Wisconsin's most noble tradition.

God bless you all.

And God bless Wisconsin High School Hockey!