I've always considered Charlie Brown to be one of my personal heroes. So, when "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" was on last week and I forgot to watch, it was kind of an "AAUGH!" moment.
Remember when something went wrong for Charlie Brown and his gang, on the baseball diamond or anywhere else? The next panel of the comic strip normally involved throwing his head back (to the point where all one could see was the bottom of his nose and his mouth) and shouting.
Often times, it was because of an error, but some times it was just an unfortunate turn of fate.
I have "AAUGH!" moments on a pretty regular basis. Some of them are small stuff (omitting the Minnesota State-Alaska Anchorage series from last week's picks, calling Marquette's football coach Mike L'Huillier, not Dave).
Some of them are bigger, like realizing that one of the biggest wins in Michigan Tech football history was going on and I was not there. As much as it's right and good that I was covering Saturday's pre-district playoff game in Lake Linden, any hard-bitten journalist wants to be on the scene of the big story of the day.
I had another series of "AAUGH!" moments last week, starting on what was a generally positive Thursday morning. I'd gotten all the pages done early so I could hit the road for the all-U.P. meeting in Escanaba, said hello and goodbye to our new editor, Jane Nordberg, on her first day and hopped in the car (on time!) for the trip south.
Bemidji State at St. Cloud State
Bemidji is learning the hard way about the rigors of the WCHA schedule. After gaining just a single point from their first four games against tough opponents in North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth, the Beavers must hit the road for a tough trip to St. Cloud this weekend. The teams last met early in the Beavers' Frozen Four season of 2008-09, splitting in Bemidji. The year before, SCSU swept in St. Cloud. The Other Huskies aren't off to a great start, either, after a home split with non-conference Quinnipiac last week, but I see the breaks continuing to go against the league newbies.
The Verdict: SCSU sweep 4-3, 4-2
Wisconsin at Minnesota
What got into the Gophers? After a pair of dominating nights at altitude in Colorado Springs, things look a little rosier in the Twin Cities, and not just because all those red-clad Badger fans are in town. I'll admit to underestimating Wisconsin a bit and I'm impressed by how a team overcoming so many losses can play as tough as it did, coming from behind to beat Michigan Tech on both nights. However, Mariucci's a different animal, and with a possibly resurgent Minnesota team at home, I'll split the points.
The Verdict: UMn Friday 5-2, UW Saturday 5-3
Minnesota Duluth at North Dakota
They were Nos. 1 and 2 in the preseason media poll, but the road to the top has already split two different ways. North Dakota has now lost three of its last four, including getting shut out last Saturday at home by Denver. Duluth, meanwhile, remains unbeaten at 6-0-2. Then again, the combined record of UMD"s opponents thus far is 7-20-7, so skepticism is within reason. North Dakota won four of the five meetings last year in convincing fashion (including a 2-0 win in the first game of the WCHA Final Five), so I'm going with the Sioux at home.
The Verdict: UND sweeps 3-2, 3-1
Minnesota State at Nebraska-Omaha
After such a good week for Sarah Palin and her various "Mama" and "Papa Grizzlys," it's only natural that the WCHA include this extra mavericky matchup in Omaha. As was mentioned in the column, I screwed up and forgot to pick the MSU-UAA series last weekend, but it was a positive one for Minnesota State, which took three points on the road. They'd better get used to the purple sweaters, as the UNO series is the second of four far-flung trips in a row (next week's at Denver, followed by a non-conference series at UMass-Lowell). Omaha's rested (off last weekend) and off to a good start. Mavericks (the UNO variety) sweep.
The Verdict: UNO sweeps 4-2, 6-4
Colorado College vs. Denver
It's been a rough week for both of these programs. For CC, a miserable performance at home against Minnesota has capped a stretch of four losses in five games. Denver's focus is on forward Jesse Martin, who suffered three neck fractures after a hit against North Dakota last weekend. The Denver Post reports that Martin is scheduled for surgery Friday to stabilize the fractures. Kind of takes the shine off the Gold Pan Trophy, competition for which begins with this weekend's home-and-home. Hopefully, the Pioneers can be inspired by Martin's toughness as they take down a CC squad that might just be worse than we thought.
The Verdict: DU sweeps 3-1, 5-1
Last Week: 5-7
For the season: 19-16-3 (53.9 percent)
I turned the key and ... nothing.
Wouldn't even turn over. Tried to jump it ... still nothing.
I would have screamed "AAUGH!" at this point if I weren't in completely stunned panic mode. In what can only be described as an object lesson in having good friends and colleagues, I got a ride to L'Anse from Mike Babcock and from there, to Escanaba, from Ironwood Daily Globe sports editor Jason Juno, who went a half-hour out of his way.
Thankfully, we didn't miss any of the voting part of the meeting and I felt like things went well. I look forward to congratulating the players honored by the UP Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association for their accomplishments.
And as disappointed as I was to forego home cooking so I could get a ride home (thanks to Chris Ford of the L'Anse Sentinel), I made it back to Houghton safe and sound.
The next day, my car still wouldn't start, and in my efforts to find a garage that could get my car in that day so I could get to Lake Linden Saturday, Archy (David Archambeau) asked me if I was sure I was fully in park. I said I was pretty sure that was the case, but we decided to make absolutely sure.
So I put the key in, pushed the brake, shifted into drive, then back to park and turned the ignition.
I'm glad I have a car again (walking to games, even at Tech or Houghton High School, is tough) but I'm surely due a little bit of good grief this week. This blockhead probably deserves it.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.