Contrary to popular belief, every once in a while, I do things that don't involve sports.
I sing on Monday nights in the Copper Country Chorale. We had our concert Sunday afternoon, and in it, we sang an ancient song entitled "In dulci jubilo (In sweet rejoicing)" adapted from Piae Cantiones, a 16th-century Finnish-language songbook.
Anyhow, the second verse includes the line: "Deeply were we stained/per nostra crimina (for our sins)."
That got me thinking. First, it's about the time of the year for me to do what I call my "mea culpa" column. What sins have stained the column this year?
I kicked off 2011 with a doozy, giving you my opinion on the Packers' playoff chances: "This ain't the year, folks. Don't get me wrong, they might win one or two, but that's four mountains too much to climb."
So far, they've won not one, not two, not three, but 16 consecutive games that count. If that prognostication effort didn't cause you to stop reading my columns, the fact that I made three separate Latin references this week probably has.
Michigan Tech at Minnesota
It turns out thousands of miles of travel plus playing the No. 4 (now No. 1) team in the nation has an adverse effect on results. Who knew? Things don't get much easier this weekend in Minneapolis, as the No. 2 Golden Gophers host the Huskies. Mariucci Arena hasn't been a very hospitable place to play, with the Gophers winning eight of nine contests there thus far (and all five in WCHA play). Getting a win out of the Gophers is going to require beating goalie Kent Patterson, who has cooled from superhuman to merely good, having allowed three goals per game in his last four contests.
The Verdict: Minnesota 4-2 Friday, Tech 2-1 Saturday
Denver at Bemidji State
It's tough having to play road games again, isn't it, Pioneers? Denver, playing its first road game in more than a month, lost 4-3 in overtime last Friday at Colorado College. A five-game string continues this weekend in Bemidji, against a Beaver team that took three points from two very different games at St. Cloud last weekend, a 6-6 tie and a 3-1 win. It's still a bit of an upset, but Bemidji should get something out of the weekend.
The Verdict: BSU 5-3 Friday, Denver 4-1 Saturday
Nebraska Omaha at North Dakota
It appears that the sleeping giant is fully awakened. After taking up brief residence at the bottom of the league standings, ND has won its last four games, including a thorough sweep (5-2, 4-1) at Alaska Anchorage last weekend. This weekend is the last WCHA series North Dakota will play as the Fighting Sioux before retiring the moniker Jan. 1. UNO suffered a shocking 3-1 loss Friday at previously winless Alabama-Huntsville (it won Saturday), which doesn't bode well for the Mavericks.
The Verdict: UND sweeps 6-3, 4-1
Minnesots Duluth at Wisconsin
UMD's roll is now Wisconsin's problem, as the No. 1 Bulldogs roll into the Kohl Center this weekend. Wisconsin was idle last weekend and has been much stronger at home (7-3-0) than on the road (0-5-1), but this is a tough assignment, even with the help of 15,000 friends.
The Verdict: UMD sweeps 5-3, 3-1
Alaska-Anchorage at Colorado College
Colorado College remains undefeated at home after a thrilling overtime penalty shot goal scored by Alexander Krushelnyski. This week, the Tigers get a reeling UAA outfit tied for last in the league standings. I expect it to be pretty quick work for CC, which ended UAA's Cinderella run at the Final Five.
The Verdict: CC sweeps 6-3, 4-2
Alabama-Huntsville at Minnesota State
It was a week of good news for a UAH program that needed it - first a win against Nebraska Omaha on Friday, second, reports that community efforts to save the program's Division I status will at least be attempted with the help of $500,000 in pledges. This week's series at co-last place Minnesota State is winnable, but after last week's run-in with the Mavericks, these Mavericks aren't going to sleepwalk through a game like UNO did.
The Verdict: MSU sweeps 4-1, 3-1
Last week: 8-3-1
For the season: 53-39-12 (56.7 percent)
Speaking of bad predictions, I also predicted the Rams and Eagles to win the NFC West and East, respectively, and the Colts to win the AFC South. I can use Peyton Manning's neck as an excuse for the latter, but if you stuck your neck out on some of my other picks, you lost your head.
However, this column isn't just about guesses that I got wrong, it's about out-and-out mistakes, too.
I managed to mess up the All-U.P. football story a little. Though Shane Testini of Lake Linden-Hubbell was pictured with the article, he wasn't mentioned in the story, even though all the other local recipients were. My mistake.
We occasionally have a phenomenon I call the "jump to nowhere." That's when I say a story is going to jump to an inside page, but I never get around to doing that. It's like a cliffhanger episode in the newspaper, but most of you hate that. I managed to do that for a fairly important Tech hockey preview package article back in October. For that, I?apologize, both to the article's readers and writer.
I know the middle of an active practice field is probably not the place for writers, especially the ones who aren't paying attention. I'm certainly sorry for that incident, as well as any ribcage injuries that could have come from excessive laughing at the tape or subsequent column.
For all the misidentified photo subjects, my apologies. For the names off by a letter or two, please forgive.
We plan to get better in the weeks and months ahead, and I think you'll like what's coming in 2012.
If you promise to cut me some slack, I promise to keep Latin out of the mea culpa column next year.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @redveale. For this week's WCHA?Picks, check out this column on mininggazette.com.