Numbers have been in our minds all week. There's 11 degrees below zero, 30-mile per hour winds, three days of cancelled school in a row.
In a desperate attempt to rid my mind of those kinds of numbers, I cracked open my statistical spreadsheet in an attempt to iron out the wrinkles that have developed thus far in the 2013-14 winter sports season.
The first one of these to come to mind is how Hancock's hockey team has played three tie games this season, most recently Monday night against Jeffers. My fascination with the dying concept that an athletic contest can produce no winner has been covered more than once in this space. Chatting with coach Dan Rouleau after Monday's game, he believed this was as many ties as he'd coached in during a season since he took over the Bulldog program in 2004, if not as many as he's coached Hancock to in the previous seasons combined. I've yet to find the data to confirm that, but here's a few things I do know:
No game involving a Houghton County team ended in a tie at any point in the 2012-13 season.
Two of the three Hancock draws came against Marquette. The last time Hancock had two ties against the same team in a season was 2009-10, when it tied Jeffers twice, but that year the teams played three times and Hancock won the other.
On the other side of the canal, Houghton has been involved in just one tie game in the last four seasons.
There, of course, can be no ties in the postseason, but there hasn't even been overtime in a long time. The last regional tournament game to go into overtime was in 2005, when L'Anse beat Houghton.
Whether there's overtime or not, here's hoping for competitive play at this year's tournament, which begins Tuesday, Feb. 25 at MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
Hancock and Calumet will meet in the play-in game that night, with the winner advancing to face Jeffers in the early semifinal Feb. 27.
Houghton and L'Anse will play on the other side of the bracket, with the regional championship Saturday, March 1 at 1 p.m.
Speaking of overtime, there's been just a single local basketball game to require extra time all season (a Watersmeet at Chassell girls' game last week). There were six such games by Jan. 29 of last year.
There are 11 boys' basketball players in our area averaging 10 points a game or more, led by Alex Almquist's 19.3 ppg.
Not only were there 19 such boys last year, there are 17 girls at that point this year (with five others at 9.5 ppg or above).
In fact, the only boys in the Copper Country Conference averaging 10 points a game right now are Brett Poissant and Tyler Roose of Lake Linden-Hubbell and Alex Outinen of Jeffers. The Jeffers girls currently have three such players (Shelby Seppanen, Haley Makela, Alexa Clouthier), and the Dollar Bay girls would have four if you round up Meagan Kangas' 9.9 and Carli Daavettila's 9.7 to join Julia Daavettila (18.7) and Jamie Sertich (11.6).
For the second straight year, the Class D districts will serve as a de facto conference tournament for the CCC.
The girls tip off in Chassell on Feb. 24, with Lake Linden-Hubbell and Jeffers playing in the first round for the chance to meet the hosts two days later and Dollar Bay and Baraga facing off for a shot at Ontonagon in the semifinals. The district final is Friday, Feb. 28.
The boys' tournament is at Jeffers High. Ontonagon plays Dollar Bay in one first-round game with the winner playing the host Jets, while Lake Linden-Hubbell and Chassell meet in the other first-round game, winner getting Baraga.
Remember, Houghton is in Class B this year, leaving the Class C tournament a four-team showdown. The girls will go down to L'Anse for that one, with Ironwood-Calumet and L'Anse-Hancock the semifinals. The boys' bracket is in Calumet, with Ironwood-L'Anse and Hancock-Calumet semis.
With the help of at least one snow postponement, L'Anse's schedule could be rather low on diversity down the stretch. The Hornets are scheduled to play Hancock three times in February (the 6th, 12th and 24th) and if both they and Calumet advance to a district final, will play them three times in a month's span as well, starting tonight (plus Feb. 21, and possibly 26th).
Houghton, meanwhile, is in what's called a non-traditional district, which is to say, not all the games are at the same site.
Just like volleyball season, Menominee is the host school, but Houghton will host at least one tournament game, a B girls' semifinal against Escanaba. The Houghton boys will play at least their first two postseason games on the road, starting with a trip to Kingsford for a play-in game, but would host a district final if they got that far.
One last number for you: 24, which is the number of days until a postseason gameday. And you thought minus-11 degrees was hard to wrap your head around.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.