My 2009 Jeep Liberty is parked in the driveway and the tank is full. But there's a winter storm warning for this area so methinks I should remain in the cozy comfort of my second-floor office and take a late January tour of the North American Hockey League from home.
With 19 games to go on their regular-season schedule, the Michigan Warriors remain in contention for the sixth-and-final playoff spot in the eight-team North Division.
The eighth-place Warriors have 34 points from a record of 14-21-6. That puts them seven points back of both the Port Huron Fighting Falcons and Springfield Jr. Blues and six points behind the Janesville Jets with games in hand on all three teams.
The Warriors can make up much-needed ground this weekend when they travel to Springfield for Friday-Saturday games vs. the Jr. Blues at the Nelson Center.
1994 birth year goalie Trevor Gorsuch, who has shrugged off some early-season struggles and brief demotion to the Battle Creek Revolution of the NA3HL, said the Warriors believe in themselves and will leave nothing on the table as they chase a playoff spot.
"We're a young team but we work really hard and we have really good chemistry," Gorsuch told me on the January 29 edition of the Hockey North Show on ESPN 1400 Radio.
NEW ARMY RECRUIT
Sources are saying that the Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Army Black Knights will shortly announce that they have committed to big winger Alexander Taulien of the Soo Eagles.
Taulien, a 6-foot-4, 205 pound, 1992 birth year from Crystal Lake, Illinois, is among the Eagles scoring leaders this season with 32 points, including 13 goals, in 38 games.
As a player in his last season of junior hockey, the skilled, hardworking, very personable Taulien will head to the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY in the fall and begin his NCAA career with Army.
K-ZOO AND THE SOO
Sparked by a run-and-gun offense featuring Robbie Payne, Luc Boby, Taylor Burden, Danny Hamburg and the newly-acquired Kody Polin, the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings have moved into a first-place tie with the Soo Eagles atop the North Division, one point up on the Jamestown Ironmen.
But not only has Kalamazoo played three more games than both the Soo and Jamestown, the Jr. K-Wings are idle this weekend while both the Eagles and Ironmen are in action.
The Soo plays twice at Jamestown before finishing off a three-game road trip at Johnstown against the always-tough Tomahawks.
While the Soo is away for the three games in three days, Jamestown is home for three. The Ironmen have the two home games against the Soo before playing host to Port Huron.
GOOD MORNING, JAMESTOWN
Thursday's Eagles-Ironmen game will be played at 11:00 in the morning at Jamestown Savings Bank Arena.
The morning match is being billed as a "School Day Game" promotion as the Ironmen try to appeal to the young fans of Jamestown.
With a record of 6-32-2, the 2012-2013 season has been a disaster for the Odessa Jackalopes under crusty coach Paul Gillis.
The Jackalopes, who will miss the South Division playoffs by a country mile, have traded off several high-end players this season including forward Ryan Doucet, defenceman Tyler Minx and goalie Blake Wojtala to Jamestown, forward Pat Thompson to the Soo, defenceman Austin Ho to Springfield and forward Tyler Cayemberg to the Brookings Blizzard.
In all, a whopping 27 players have either been traded or released by Odessa since the start of the season.
Makes one wonder if Gillis ever had a game plan in the first place.
Coulee Region will most likely miss the Central Division playoffs. The Chill is 18 points out of the fourth-and-final playoff spot with 19 games left in the regular season.
The Chill has lost four straight under interim coach A.J. Degenhardt after winning three of its first five with him at the helm.
In all, Coulee Region is 3-6-0 under Degenhardt after going 8-19-5 with the since-fired John Hamre in charge.
The jury, to be sure, is out on Degenhardt, who some say has a high opinion of himself. But it should be noted that the judge in this case, Chill primary owner Michelle Bryant, has had good things to say to me about the job Degenhardt has done since taking over from Hamre.
It should also be noted that attendance at Chill home games has improved since Degenhardt replaced Hamre, a fact that Bryant has called "very encouraging."