No question: Copper Country is a sports mecca

If there was ever any doubt, this past couple of weeks once again proved the Copper Country is a sports mecca.

While our area is the only one in the Upper Peninsula with a Division II (Michigan Tech) and Division III (Finlandia) university located in it, there are also ten high schools that provide many more sports events.

In the past couple of weeks, the C.C. has seen several downstate prep hockey teams visit.

Downstate powers like Birmingham Brother Rice, Orchard Lake St. Mary, Novi and Brighton have made the long trip to play in the historic rinks around here.

And powerhouse Bloomfield-Hills Cranbrook, which began playing Calumet several seasons ago on a home-and-home basis, is another visitor.

Why do these teams come up here? As one visiting coach remarked, the intense brand of hockey played here is much closer to what they will see in the postseason.

Hancock, Houghton and Calumet all have state titles to their credit over the past 20 years.

Former coaches like Rick Miller of Hancock, Don Miller of Houghton and Jim Crawford taught their teams to play all-out, especially when playing each other.

And their style of play has been carried on by their successors, Dan Rouleau of Hancock, Corey Markham of Houghton and Dan Giachino of Calumet.

All three were former students and players and they know the upcoming regionals will be fiercely contested once again.

We also have several fine girls and boys basketball teams in the area. Chassell High and Ewen-Trout Creek are rated in the UPPSA poll, with the former seen as a serious threat for postseason honors.

A talented Dollar Bay boys team will make a lot of noise before the season ends. This is the same Blue Bolts squad that took North Central to the limit a year ago in the regionals — a fact seemingly forgotten by some UPPSA voters.

Division II Michigan Tech always features strong women’s and men’s basketball teams. The No. 16 Huskies women hosted defending national champion and No. 1 Ashland University a few days ago.

Tech has a Division I hockey team that is beginning to resemble the powerhouses put together by the late John MacInnes in the 1960s and 1970s.

Finlandia University also brings in quality foes in basketball and hockey and provides a choice for many local players to compete in.

And if that isn’t enough sports for the normal fan, there are also two fine senior hockey teams in the Portage Lake Pioneers and Calumet Wolverines.

These two old rivals play a crisp brand of hockey at Dee Stadium and the Colosseum.

That’s enough sports action to keep people from thinking too much about the long winters we usually have.