Oh, times seem a little tougher than usual in the Copper Country.
Nothing like that first week of frigid temperatures for the winter to remind you that there's four more months of this coming.
Nothing like getting to sit down and watch a whole Red Wings game for the first time only for them to play badly and lose.
So, let's process this pity party to its fullest extent and get it over with so the holiday season can be a joyful time for all.
We take pride in doing quality work and I demand it from myself. But when one puts literally thousands of words on the printed page in a given year, there are always a few stray ones here and there.
Sometimes it's prognostications gone bad. Sometimes it's oversights in the page design process. Sometimes it's just scatterbrained stupidity. I've got that in spades. But accidents happen, and so before the year is out, it's time to atone for some of the most egregious ones, on and off the page.
Forgot one more thing I regret: Last week's picks, which at 5-7, were less accurate than just picking 12 ties for the second week in a row. Last week of conference play before January, so I'd better get cracking on saving face.
Michigan Tech at Nebraska Omaha
As the weather has turned for the worse, so have the Huskies' fortunes. This eight-game losing streak looks a lot like the 12-gamer at this time last year or the eight-gamer from 2008. Tech's on the road for its next seven, starting with this unusual Thursday-Friday series in Nebraska, caused by a Creighton home basketball game on Saturday night. It's the Huskies' first visit to Omaha since a non-conference series in 1998.
The road team has won all four games played between the two, but given the state of affairs for Tech, any points at the No. 10 team in the country's home rink would have to be a bonus.
The Verdict: UNO sweep 4-2, 3-1
Colorado College at St. Cloud State
CC didn't impress me that much when I saw them last weekend. One good line, tough on the power play. After that? Now, the Tigers have a chance to wow the folks in St. Cloud this weekend, a group that has needed some wowing. Picked to finish in the upper echelon of the league, SCSU is 5-9-2 overall and 3-6-1 in league after getting swept out of Grand Forks last weekend (including trailing 5-0 after a period Saturday). So, who do you go with, the team that was unimpressive to me or the team that was unimpressive on the scoresheet? Got to rely on the facts.
The Verdict: CC sweep, 3-2, 5-4
Minnesota Duluth at Minnesota
Minnesota Duluth is on the road this weekend and the DECC is no more, which means that MacInnes Student Ice Arena is the oldest arena in the WCHA. Minnesota was on the road last weekend and probably wishes it still was, as the Mariucci faithful are not likely to be pleased with the Gophers' pair of one-goal losses at Minnesota State or anything less than the best against the No. 2 Bulldogs. Sorry Gophers, it's going to get worse before it gets better.
The Verdict: UMD sweep 4-2, 4-3
Bemidji State at Wisconsin
Bemidji State woke up just in the nick of time, allowing just a goal in two games against high-flying Nebraska Omaha. However, the Beavers have to hit the road for their next eight games and are at home only one weekend between now and Feb. 18. Meanwhile, Wisconsin's growing pains continue after a split in Anchorage in which it didn't score an even-strength goal. Not an easy call, but I'll go with the home team here.
The Verdict: UW sweep 5-4, 5-2
North Dakota at Minnesota State
There must be some Maverick mojo this season. After UNO started 6-1-1 in league play, it got swept at Bemidji last weekend, only for MSU to pick up the slack with a pair of close wins over Minnesota. North Dakota took down St. Cloud twice last weekend, routing the Huskies 6-2 Saturday with five first-period goals in their supposedly lucky black jerseys (in which they have lost once in school history). Doubt they'll need the luck this weekend as there's more than enough talent (two Sioux were named to the USA's preliminary roster for the World Junior Championships) to win in Mankato.
The Verdict: ND sweep 4-1, 6-4
Denver at Alaska Anchorage
Perhaps it's time to stop being down on the Seawolves. I picked them to finish last, yes. But they earned a split for the fourth consecutive weekend (winning the Friday game each time) and are actually just a point out of a home-ice position (probably too early to be thinking about that, but still, not bad.) This weekend, Denver comes to town a week after beating the No. 1 team in the country in its own building. Not bad. But conditions look pretty ripe for a letdown, don't they?
The Verdict: UAA 2-1 Friday, DU 5-2 Saturday
Last week: 5-7
For the season: 47-43-6 (52.1 percent)
You may have noticed Wednesday that after the Baraga-Dollar Bay story jumped to page 3B, the word "Cardinals" appeared next to the jump headline even though it had nothing to do with anything in the story. That's because those headlines have a default format that includes the placeholder text (Cardinals win World Series - it's a pleasant daily reminder that I still haven't seen the Tigers win it all yet). Never changed it. Never saw it until I posted the Web that day. Mea culpa.
I managed to get names wrong in two different Lake Linden-Hubbell football photo captions on the same day. Combine that with my inability to count to seven in the All-U.P. football picks from 2009, and knowing that the Lakes will probably have six home games next season, I shudder to think what I might be capable of next time I visit Warner Field.
I picked the Cincinnati Bengals to win the AFC North. They have not won in two months and may not do so until next season.
I mentioned in a column that the Red Wings won the 2008 Stanley Cup in seven games. It was six.
I'm still getting made fun of for nearly missing the All-U.P. football meeting for not having my car in park. And I deserve it.
I drafted Shonn Greene in the second round of my fantasy draft, and it's a keeper league, so I'm stuck with him until next season. Ponder Passing is 5-8 and in the consolation bracket. Scoop for next year's mea culpa column: I apologize for slashing Shonn Greene's tires.
Finally, I apologize for forgetting how many mistakes I've made over the past year. They are surely more numerous than the ones I've included in this space (hopefully not too much so), but hey, it's almost Christmas, so I'll forgive you, hopefully you'll forgive me and we'll bury the hatchet under a Christmas tree.
It's going to be a long, cold winter, which is no time to hold a grudge.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.