I've come to enjoy Winter Carnival week and all of the things it represents - snow statues, deep-fried food objects, a steely defiance of the cold and snow.
There's just one thing that I find unnerving: The annual decision to ensure that the theme rhymes at all costs.
Take it from me, Blue Key (Aaah! I can't stop!): Rhyming is just one weapon in any wordsmith's arsenal.
There are a limited number of synonyms for the word 'won.' Therefore, to avoid repetition, one must dress them up with a series of devices to attract the reader's attention. This isn't Shakespeare, though, so one must not be afraid to use bad puns or alliteration in place of rhyming.
And as your Halo-playing buddies might say, sometimes it's good to dual-wield. Example: "Lakes break Bays for mistake."
Since the core event remains the annual WCHA hockey series, it might be good to incorporate that in future years. Surely there would have been something amusing to rhyme with 'Bemidji."
As we take a look at this weekend's great slate of WCHA play, let's get creative with this and let the league's other 10 teams share in the fun begun by the Huskies and Beavers.
Bemidji State at
"Surely There's Hope for the Diehards That Mope"
Tech does know how to pick them for Carnival. Bemidji got a split last weekend at Minnesota State but remains two points adrift of 10th in the league, a long fall for a team that was in the Frozen Four two years ago. Tech, well, I think you all know how things have gone there. A tragic statistic has come to my attention - a Bemidji sweep guarantees a last-place finish for the Huskies. It may be delaying the inevitable, but Carnival is about happiness and magic and such, and getting swept at home (and Tech's taken at least a point from the last six Carnivals) isn't very magical.
The Verdict: BSU 2-1 Friday, Tech 3-1 Saturday
St. Cloud State at
"Tied For The Lead vs. Struggling, Indeed"
UMD is tied with Denver atop the WCHA, which basically means that the Bulldogs can't afford to throw away points while waiting for the AMSOIL Arena home-ice advantage to kick in (UMD is 2-2-1 in its first five in its new building). St. Cloud's hopes of home-ice were crippled last weekend when it was swept at Nebraska Omaha. Currently tied for 10th with Minnesota State, SCSU's last four series are: at UMD, North Dakota, Wisconsin, at Denver. Better make accomodations now.
The Verdict: UMD sweeps 5-2, 4-2
Denver at Minnesota
"Epic Hair and Nice Suits To Wear"
Mariucci Arena hosts this weekend's series with the best-coiffed (Minnesota's Don Lucia) and best-dressed (Denver's George Gwozdecky) coaches in the league. However, both need more than just style points, albeit for different reasons.
Denver is tied with UMD for the league lead and one point ahead of North Dakota. Denver does have home series with Tech and St. Cloud coming up, but also a trip to Omaha, whereas the Fighting Sioux don't play anyone in the top half of the league in the last three weeks. Minnesota took just a point at UMD last weekend and is a point out of the home-ice slots. I'm going to predict that the Gophers steal one, then have to live with the fact that they paved the way to final victory for the Fighting Sioux.
The Verdict: UMn 5-4 Friday, DU 6-3 Saturday
"Steaks and Good Beer Meet in Harmony Here"
Assuming the Packer revelers have cleared off the streets in time for the bus to leave, the Badgers will head for Nebraska this weekend knowing that there may be less on the line than any other series this weekend west of Ironwood. Nothing short of abject collapse or miraculous events should keep either side from finishing a comfortable fourth or fifth in the league standings, though Omaha is on the NCAA bubble (Wisconsin's pretty comfortably in at this point). Tough call, since the Badgers have won five straight, but UNO's a tough place to get a win. Going for the split.
The Verdict: UW 4-2 Friday, UNO 3-1 Saturday
Alaska Anchorage at North Dakota
"Sioux Send Seawolves Slipping South in Standings"
A world in which Alaska Anchorage is tied for a home-ice spot with a month to go may seem as unusual as a world in which the Winter Carnival theme doesn't rhyme. But normalcy appears to be around the corner. Colorado College, with whom UAA is tied, has games in hand and an easier schedule. Congrats to UAA for vastly outperforming my last-place expectations (perhaps I should pick Tech there next year?) but it doesn't get much tougher for the Seawolves than Grand Forks, where the Sioux are on the championship trail and a point off the lead. They won't have much mercy here.
The Verdict: UND sweeps, 5-2, 4-1
Minnesota State at Colorado College
"CC ceeks cixth"
Yeah, the spelling on that's goofy, but sometimes you've got to dig deep, as will the Tigers, who really need maximum points at home this weekend against a Minnesota State team that's probably condemned to no better than ninth after a lackluster home split with Bemidji. CC was dangerously close to the Gold Pan trophy last week after taking a 2-0 lead in the deciding game at Denver Saturday, only for the Pioneers to score four in a row and retain the trophy by splitting the series 2-2. No such split will help CC this weekend, and the Tigers won't settle.
The Verdict: CC sweeps 5-3, 3-2
Last Week: 6-3-1
For the Season: 89-66-12 (56.9 percent)
Brandon?Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.