There is an inherent element of luck that goes into putting out a good newspaper.
As journalists, we are bound both to tell the story with flair and with accuracy. Sometimes, all you can do is be accurate.
As the saying goes, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. As far as I know, the Associated Press has never given an award for recapping a basketball game decided by 30 points or more (though it would make a good category).
So, we are dependent upon luck sometimes. For me, getting a good game can turn around a bad day, and when it can't do that anymore, that's probably when I should find a new line of work.
I wasn't asking for a pick-me-up last week but I certainly got one. Well, two, actually.
Tuesday in Chassell, I was expecting a good one between the Panthers and Houghton Gremlins. Coaches Russ Ryynanen and Julie Filpus have established a long track record of success, and a series of good games when the teams meet up (nearly exactly a year ago, they played an overtime game in Houghton).
A nice 9-1 weekend (admittedly, with the help of some low-hanging fruit) has helped bolster my success rate a big. Let's see if I can keep it up:
St. Lawrence at Michigan Tech
Let's not mince words. It's been a bad last few months for Michigan Tech hockey. Maybe a break from the WCHA is a good idea. St. Lawrence of the ECAC Hockey League comes to town, and the Huskies have history breathing down their necks. The current losing streak is 15 games, one short of the school record from the 1951-52 season. You thought this is rough? That team gave up 10 goals or more five times during its skid, including giving up 19 goals in two games against Michigan on Winter Carnival.
At 6-10-3, St. Lawrence isn't exactly lighting the east on fire. So, we'll try some positive energy this week to stave off the winter blues and some negative history.
The Verdict: Tech sweeps 3-2, 3-1
Wisconsin at Minnesota Duluth
The hockey fans in Duluth have a beautiful arena to enjoy, but North Dakota enjoyed its Opening Night more, whipping the Bulldogs 5-0 Dec. 30 (in a non-conference game). UMD has two road wins over Clarkson and an exhibition victory over the U.S. Under-18 team since, but they're hoping the first WCHA game in Amsoil Arena goes a little better.
They could have picked a better opponent. The Badgers are winners of seven straight, though the last four were against relative lightweights UMass and Canisius and only one of the seven was on the road.
The Badgers good form won't translate into the road reds as the UMD faithful get to go home happy for the first time.
The Verdict: UMD sweeps 4-2, 3-1
Denver at Minnesota State
Speaking of winning streaks, the Mavericks have won four in a row going into this weekend's series with Denver. However, DU has taken 11 of a possible 12 points in the last 1 1/2 seasons, including 3-2 and 6-1 victories in Colorado in November.
Denver's hit a bumpier patch lately (3-1-2 in their last six), but their only loss in two months was in Duluth, which is a bit tougher situation than Mankato.
The Verdict: DU sweeps 5-2, 4-2
Minnesota at North Dakota
The Fighting Sioux have been fast finishers in the past. Last year, they won their last seven regular season games and later, the Broadmoor Trophy by beating Denver in the championship of the WCHA Final Five. The Sioux appear to have started early this time, taking a seven-game win streak into this weekend's series against the Gophers, who are 1-3-2 in their last six, including a Mariucci Classic in which Minnesota got only a tie and had zero players on the all-tournament team. Looks like two teams going in different directions.
The Verdict: UND sweeps 4-1, 5-2
Bemidji State at Nebraska Omaha
The Other Mavericks are scrambling back to Omaha this weekend after closing out 2010 with three road losses in four games at Colorado College and Quinnipiac. BSU may be back in scramble mode after splitting at Alabama-Huntsville last weekend and giving the Chargers just their third win of the season. Bemidji won both games the teams played earlier in the year in Minnesota, but I'll retain the home-field advantage and anticipate UNO to rebound first.
The Verdict: UNO sweep, 3-2, 5-2
Colorado College at Alaska Anchorage
Colorado College gets the annual task of waking up Alaska Anchorage this weekend. The Seawolves haven't played in more than a month, a 2-2 home tie against Denver. The Tigers have had just one weekend off since finishing second in the Great Lakes Invitational. This weekend, the points go to the team with less rust.
The Verdict: CC sweep, 4-1, 3-1
Last week: 9-1
For the season: 66-49-8 (56.9 percent)
Chassell had the edge early, but at halftime, I just had that feeling that business was about to pick up, and I said to Houghton scorebook-keeper/volleyball coach/chemistry teacher/all-around good guy John Christianson that "I've got a feeling we're going to be here a while."
Well, we weren't there any longer than the regulation 32 minutes, thanks to Taylor Dillinger's driving lay-up at the buzzer.
There were some good interviews, and a good story, but I was kind of disappointed the next morning because the flash stopped working in the third quarter, so my photo of the big shot was dark and not very good.
Two nights later in Calumet, even that came together.
Somehow I managed to get two barn-burners in a week, and then the last shot at the buzzer goes to James Veker, just six feet away. The good luck continued in that the shot was decently-lit, in-focus, and even had the scoreboard in it with 0.5 seconds.
For the experts out there, getting the shot is a combination of reflexes and science. For me, there's a heaping helping of blind luck. For all the photos you see in the section on a given day, I'll admit there are many times more that are woefully out of focus, taken a half-second too late, or in which heads, arms or legs are chopped off.
Then on Friday night, a different challenge: an overtime tie between Houghton and Brighton at Dee Stadium.
Ties can be a little awkward to write about, but at least it's something different. And as scared as I was about eight minutes of overtime putting us way behind on production of Saturday's edition, four of the six girls' basketball games that were to be called in got postponed, meaning there was lots of time to put everything together.
So, I'm a pretty thankful guy. Sometimes you go months without a moment I got to cover and write about twice in three days. When you get that moment, have fun with it and do it relatively well, that's the stuff that gets you through the weeks in which the mercy rule is invoked, the camera stops working or, like Wednesday, you forget to run something altogether (sorry, Houghton fans, I screwed up on the hockey story - it's in today.)
The bad karma comes in waves just like the good kind. So, I'll try not to tone down the excitement over my good week if you'll forgive the bad ones.
Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@ mininggazette.com.