It's a holiday weekend, so you know what that means - a gimmick column!
Of course, Thursday was Thanksgiving, so that means it's time for a "things I'm thankful for" column, since I got home from dinner late.
Don't worry, I'll make it as funny as I can.
1. I'm thankful that the Lions always play on Thanksgiving because it gives me and the relatives something to laugh about.
2. I'm thankful for the Packers putting Wade Phillips and Brad Childress out of their misery if for no other reason than to force Sportscenter to do other stories.
3. I'm thankful that Houghton played a team with a nickname of "Bucks" on the second day of deer season. Rarely does the idea for a lead paragraph on a preview story come much easier.
Alaska Anchorage at Colorado College
Yes, even on the holiday weekend, there's at least one conference series. The Tigers had last weekend off, while UAA gained a home split with St. Cloud. Not bad. These teams have already met this season, in a non-conference game at the Alaska Goal Rush in Fairbanks, which CC won 4-3. Though UAA and CC split twice last season, that only raised the Seawolves' record in Colorado Springs to 3-33-0 (they're 11-17-3 against the Tigers in Anchorage). That's enough reason to pick the Tigers for the sweep.
The Verdict: CC sweeps 5-3, 5-1
Northern Michigan at Bemidji State
When we last left NMU, the Wildcats were off to another bad start, going 0-4-1 in their five games. Since, NMU appears to have snapped out of its traditional doldrums early, going 5-2-1 and taking three points at Alaska (Fairbanks) last weekend. Bemidji's still struggling, having gotten swept at Denver last weekend to fall to 2-7-1 overall. Not exactly a fairy-tale beginning. Let's show the WCHA a little love, but give the Saturday game to the team that's clearly playing better hockey.
The Verdict: BSU 5-4 Friday, NMU 4-2 Saturday.
Minnesota State at UMass-Lowell
The good news is that Minnesota State finally has a home series coming up. The bad news? It's next weekend and this weekend, it's a trip to Lowell, Mass., to take on the Riverhawks. MSU, which has not played at home since Oct. 23 and visited Alaska, Nebraska, Colorado and now Massachusetts since then, has not won since the first game of the trip in Anchorage. Lowell has been similarly struggling at 2-8-2 with losses in seven of its last eight. Tough pick here, because neither team's playing well. Gonna have to call it a split.
The Verdict: UML 2-1 Friday, MSU 5-4 Saturday
Lake Superior St., Air Force at Denver
On the flip side of the Mavericks' plight, this weekend's Denver Cup includes the sixth and seventh home games for the Pioneers in the month of November. The Pioneers have done well with the advantage, winning all five of their home games this month. For the second consecutive year, the Denver Cup is not a tournament, but rather a showcase, which means that Clarkson comes all the way up from upstate New York to not play the hosts. The teams that do play DU? Both have losing records in inferior leagues. No problems here.
The Verdict: DU wins both, 2-0 Friday and 6-4 Saturday
Michigan State, Michigan at Minnesota
Michigan, Michigan State at Wisconsin
The annual College Hockey Showcase is on this side of Lake Michigan this year, and for all the worrying about a Big Ten hockey conference triggered by Penn State's decision to go D-I, this series is just for fun. Michigan looks like its usual self at 8-3-3, though Michigan State is an unusual 4-6-3 and trailing the likes of Alaska, Lake Superior and Western Michigan in the league standings. Wisconsin may be showing its relative youth with four straight home losses to North Dakota and Minnesota Duluth, while the Gophers, who are 4-0 at home and 3-4-1 on the road, are forced to play at Mariucci. This one's always a tough call, so I'll hedge my bets.
The Verdict: UMn beats MSU 5-2, loses to UM 4-3
UW loses to UM 3-2, beats MSU 3-1
Last Week: 6-4
For the Season: 37-28-5 (56.4 percent)
4. I'm thankful that texting an apology to someone like Vince Young did this week is still recognized as really stupid.
5. I'm also thankful that Vince Young appears to be a draft bust in progress because I'm still angry about the 2005 Rose Bowl.
6. I'm thankful that I was working when Black Friday began this morning. Santa knows if you've been naughty or nice, and assaulting someone for a Nintendo Wii definitely qualifies as naughty.
7. I'm thankful that the Miner's Cup game was played in the snow. It wasn't pretty, no, but there really needs to be at least one football game in the Copper Country every year that has some white stuff. It just wouldn't be right.
8. I'm thankful that Ohio State president Gordon Gee shooting his mouth off about the BCS took a little bit of spotlight off the fact that Michigan is an 18-point underdog Saturday against the Buckeyes.
9. I'm thankful that the Red Wings are off to a good start, well, except for Wednesday.
10. I'm thankful that Brett Favre ultimate quest for media attention will end in a meaningless game at Ford Field against the Lions. If he's not on crutches by that point.
11. I'm thankful that the Tigers are spending money in the free agent market. Thanks to Victor Martinez, I'll never have to watch Gerald Laird ground to second with two out and two on ever again.
12. I'm thankful that LeBron never watched much hockey, because if he had, he'd have realized that being 3-on-5 is a bad situation, even if the three are really good.
13. I'm thankful for strong coffee on Friday mornings.
14. I'm thankful for wake-up calls from the City of Houghton on mornings when it snows.
15. I'm thankful for family to spend the holiday with that are close enough to home that I can make the trip in a day, friends near and far and the technology to communicate with them anywhere, for a fun job and readers to the see the fruit of it.
As this holiday season begins, may you and yours recognize and enjoy the blessings around you.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.