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Everyone's a critic/The Red Line

January 27, 2011
By Brandon Veale -

Since Nov. 15, the three college hockey teams in our area are a combined 0-33-1.

It hasn't been pretty, and it's not easy on our end, either. There are only so many synonyms for the word 'lose,' so many ways to describe a defeat.

Of course, that's stirred up a lot of frustration around these parts, and even a few letters to the editor. I don't have a problem with that, because that's how newspapers work. We have a page where you, the reader, can express whatever opinions you wish, provided they're of an appropriate length and content.

But if you think I'm going to join you in the chorus of complaint, you're mistaken. And here's three reasons why.

First of all, opinions aren't really the reason I'm here.

Every night, when I show up to a game, whether it's college hockey, high school basketball or house league squirts buzzing around on Hockey Sunday, the essence of my job is to answer the question "What happened?"

Fact Box

Wisconsin at Michigan Tech

It's not easy to find a silver lining here, as the gap between No. 5 and 7 (Wisconsin) isn't too big. The Badgers come in after a sweep of two close games against Minnesota State. The Badgers haven't been great on the road yet this year (just 3-3-2 with losses in Anchorage, Duluth and Denver), so hopefully Tech can give them a test.

The Verdict: UW 3-1 Friday, Tech 2-1 Saturday

Minnesota State at St. Cloud State

St. Cloud, long a team of fast starts and finish-line swoons appears to be in reverse this year. The Other Huskies have won six straight going into this weekend's series against next-to-last Minnesota State, capping it with a road sweep of Bemidji last weekend. SCSU has been stout defensively, allowing just three goals in its last four games. Before that stretch, it hadn't allowed less than two goals in a game since October. The Mavericks need points after getting swept at Wisconsin last weekend in a pair of one-goal games, extending a WCHA winless streak to six. Six of their last eight games are at home, but it may be too late for MSU.

The Verdict: SCSU sweep, 4-2, 4-1

Alaska Anchorage at Minnesota

There appear to be two different versions of the UAA Seawolves. The home one's pretty good this year: 5-4-3. The road one is a much more modest 2-8. After a pair of losses at Denver, UAA is at Mariucci Arena this weekend to face a Minnesota team in the thick of the home-ice race (The Gophers were off last week). Minnesota is tied with Colorado College for sixth, while UAA is ninth, but just two points out of the top six. Minnesota has a losing record at home, too (5-6-3), at least until Saturday night.

The Verdict: UMn sweep 4-1, 3-2

North Dakota at Colorado College

After home losses to Minnesota and Nebraska Omaha and a fall from the league's top spot, it's clear this wasn't a great homestand for North Dakota. No need to worry, though. Both teams above the Sioux (Minnesota Duluth and Denver) are off this weekend, which could give them a chance to reclaim the lead (at least for a while: the Sioux are off next weekend). At 8-8 in league play, CC desperately needs points this weekend to stay in the home-ice race. I don't see it happening, as the Sioux get mad and get back on top.

The Verdict: ND sweep, 6-3, 4-2

Alabama-Huntsville at Nebraska Omaha

"Are the wheels coming off for the Mavericks?" I asked last week.

Then I flipped over to their game in Grand Forks Friday, which was airing on cable, and when they scored for the eighth time (more than any other Ralph Engelstad Arena visitor), I realized that they probably were not. The wheels keep rolling for UNO this weekend against CHA orphans Alabama Huntsville, who were swept at Colorado College by a combined 11-1 last weekend.

The Verdict: UNO sweep 5-1, 3-0

Last Week: 8-4

For the season: 78-58-11 (56.8 percent)

"What happened?" is a very different question from "What should have happened?" or "What should be happening?"

I love watching "Pardon the Interruption" on ESPN, and though Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon are accomplished journalists, what they're doing on the air isn't journalism. So many people have followed their lead that many people expect a unity between the two, which is a dangerous precedent.

If what happened was that the home team lost, I can describe what happened that led to that result based on my observations and the observations of others though quotes and statistics. Same way if they won.

If one direction or another becomes a trend, then we can investigate what factors may have contributed to it being so.

I pick the WCHA games on a weekly basis for a couple of reasons. It's an opportunity to see what's going on around the league, who's playing whom and maybe to have a little fun. Is it my opinion? Yes. Is some sort of serious value judgement on the state of the WCHA? No. Mostly something to get a little conversation going.

Second, I'm not interested in telling people who are much more qualified than me who should be playing at which time and in which place.

I'd react negatively if a high school basketball coach started giving me lessons over the phone about sentence structure, and I figured he or she would do the same if I started lecturing them about why they didn't use a box-and-one on that kid they played last week.

A major league utility player and minor league manager by the name of Rocky Bridges once said, "There are three things that the average man thinks he can do better than everybody else: build a fire, run a hotel and manage a baseball team."

I know a few folks that run hotels. I prefer to write about sports. I know a few folks that coach athletic teams. I still prefer to write about sports.

Third, there will be more events to attend in rinks, courts, pools and slopes around the Copper Country for the rest of the winter. We need to be at those much more than we need to be in an ivory tower lobbing uninformed criticism.

We will provide the facts. But the judgement belongs to someone else. If you'd like to fill that role, I think you know how to get a hold of us.

Brandon Veale can be reached at



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