Wednesday, December 30, 2009

LSSU Lakers Ice Hockey Ready to Start Seasons Second Half

After finishing the first half of the 2009/2010 season four wins better than the same point last season the Lake Superior State University ice hockey team heads to Pennsylvania this weekend to start what could be the toughest second half schedule of any CCHA team.

After a pair of games against Robert Norris this weekend, who split with the Lakers at home last year, five of the eight teams LSSU will face in the second half are currently ranked in the nations top 20 including #1 Miami of Ohio, #12 Ferris State and #13 Michigan State. Tack on a season final match up against Upper Peninsula rivals Northern Michigan in Marquette and the Lakers could be primed to turn in an overall great season.

LSSU Lakers mens ice hockey head coach Jim Roque. FILE PHOTO - Eagle FI

“We’re excited we had a decent first half” said Lakers head coach Jim Roque, “we have the opportunity to have a great season.” Roque says confidence is a big plus for his team heading into the second half. “We’ve got some good older players” said Roque in a telephone interview Wednesday. “The last three games (before the holiday break) we started scoring goals and played better defensively”. “Our confidence has been dictated by our goalie.” he added. “Brian has played really well”. Brian Mahoney-Wilson’s team leading .920 save percentage “helps give other players the confidence to play better. They know it’s okay if they make a mistake.”

In addition to continued goal tending success the Lakers are going to need players who have had led in the first half to continue to produce. Players like junior Chad Nehring who leads the team in goals heading into the second half with eleven including six power play goals that account for 50 % of the teams total of twelve power play scores. Junior Rick Schofield who tops the individual points earners with 9 goals and 9 assists and senior forward Zac McVoy who’s team high 12 assists added to his four goals put him in second place of the individual points count with 16.

Currently in sole possession of fifth place in the CCHA almost every remaining game for the Lakers will be against another one of the leagues top seven teams. “They’re always tough games” says Roque of second half contests. With only seven points separating the second and fifth place teams every series in the second half has the chance of drastically altering LSSU’s league standings and whether or not they can call their season a success. Considering that only one team in the first half really dominated the Lakers, chances of a good finish are certainly within their reach.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Northern Michigan Art Finds a Home

Some of the artwork that is available at the Northern Michigan Artists Market in Petoskey, Michigan.
It’s no surprise to almost anyone that it’s a tough time to be in the retail art business. The Northern Michigan Artists Market in downtown Petoskey, Michigan has managed to keep afloat in this ailing economy by offering a wide variety of local art that covers almost every price range.

"We’re pretty representative of the large amount of art being done here in the area." says gallery co-owner Marty Scott. "The large variety of art that’s being done here in the area is just amazing." The gallery features the glass, wood, fabric, and pottery work of northern Michigan artists from as far north as Marquette south to Traverse City. They also handle a wide variety of original paintings, photographs and sculptures.

Northern Michigan Artist Market co-owner Marty Scott stands among some of the artwork that is available at his gallery in Petoskey, Michigan.

Hoping to capitalize on the growing interest in local artwork Scott and his partners Susan Lange and Vivi Woodcock now operate the gallery on a strictly consignment basis. Artists who have their work displayed in the gallery pay a monthly fee and commission on any work that is sold. Now in its sixth year the gallery offers original works from as many as a hundred different artists priced from $1.00 to $5,000.

Scott prefers not to talk about the negatives of running an art gallery in trying economic times. Instead he likes to point out the things he feels his gallery does right. "We wanted to be the most artist friendly gallery there was, we offer a wide variety of price points and we’ve been able to capitalize on the tourist market." Gallery customers include "tourists looking for everything from souvenirs to high end fine art" all of which is available at the gallery. "Surprisingly we are one of the best places to buy original artwork cards. A large number of our artists make cards."

"We’re very happy with the customer and artist support we’re getting. There is a lot of interest in what we do." says Scott. The market also offers customers the ability to shop on-line. Almost every piece of art is photographed and made available on the gallery website at

Some of the artwork that is available at the Northern Michigan Artists Market in Petoskey, Michigan.

While a large number of both new and established galleries have closed throughout the region consignment art galleries like the Northern Michigan Artists Market are proving they are able to compete for shoppers even in depressed retail markets. With artists finding it harder and harder to find outlets for their work they also provide a great venue for new and unique artists to get their creations seen by the public.

Additional information about the Northern Michigan Artist Market can be found on their website or by calling the gallery at 231-487-0000.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Choo-Choo Here Comes Christmas, Traverse City 2009 Festival of Trains

Before the X-box and Wii, before the internet, before Pac Man and Pong there was the train.

A holiday themed 'O' guage model engine makes its way around the main display table at the 2009 Festival of Trains.

For millions of children in the 1950’s or 60’s Christmas morning may well have included any one of a hundred different electric train sets that would endlessly hum and click their way around their small oval of tracks. In Traverse City the Northern Michigan Model Railroad Club is helping to keep these holiday memories alive by hosting their annual Festival of Trains.

Each holiday season the twenty four member club opens up its layout of tracks, trains and accessories for public display at the downtown Heritage Center. The event has been held at the center since 2003 and according to club member Roy Aydelotte of Grawn, who also does toy train upgrades and repair, last years event drew more than 8,500 guests. In its first three days this year it has already hosted more than 2,500 visitors.

Mallory Rhem (left) speaks to her daughter Shannon (center) as she and Caitlynn Gehrett (right) enjoy one of the displays at the 2009 Festival of Trains.

The event draws people of all ages from around the area and is very popular with families. Children can operate the various trains and the numerous accessories that line the hundreds of feet of track that make up the festivals main display. “Trains have historically been, for the last hundred years, a part of Christmas and this is a place to come to help celebrate Christmas” says Aydelotte who got his first set at the age of four. “You won’t have this kind of fun anywhere else.”

Model train enthusiasts of all ages enjoy the main display of the 2009 Festival of Trains.

Club members man the controls of the various layouts and are often happy to answer questions about the trains and their club. In addition to the changes the club makes to the layout each year to keep it fresh visitors are likely to see different trains each day as club members bring in and operate engines and cars from their personal collections.

New additions to this year’s event include a small Thomas the Tank Engine cab for children. Kids inside the cab can operate a small model of the popular storybook train, turn on and off the cabs lights, ring the engines bell and sound the trains whistle using a rope pull.

The Festival of Trains is open every day except Christmas day through January 3rd. The events entrance fee also allows visitors to browse the Heritage Centers local history collections that include Native American artifacts and Victorian era displays.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lakers Sweep Northern, Claim Fifth Place in CCHA

NMU's Greger Hanson (left) and LSSU's Zach Trotman (5) chase a loose puck into the corner during the third period of Saturday nights game at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Heading into the third period of the LSSU Lakers game against the NMU Wildcats Saturday night at Taffy Abel Arena it looked like it was going to be a carbon copy of the previous nights win by the home team Lakers. That was prior to the Wildcats turning up the heat and fighting back to within one with less than eight minutes to play.

LSSU senior forward Zac MacVoy put the Lakers on the scoreboard first beating NMU starting goaltender Reid Ellingson less than ten seconds into the first power play of the night. Concluding the first periods scoring junior forward Will Acton made it two nothing in favor of the home team on the second Laker power play opportunity.

LSSU's Chad Nehring (16) watches as NMU goaltender Brian Stewart (right) reaches for a rolling puck Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Reversing their roles from Friday night, NMU’s Ellingson, who got the starting nod in goal from Wildcats coach Walt Kyle, was replaced by senior Brian Stewart just over half way through the first period. Coach Kyle acknowledged that goaltending has been a concern for the Wildcats ”It’s been an issue for us” he said in post game interviews.

Lakers junior Rick Schofield picked up his eighteenth point of the year when he scored the only goal of the second period by either team.

NMU's Jared Brown (15) gets ready to backhand the puck past LSSU goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson (35) for one of his two third period goals Saturday night at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

NMU junior Jared Brown put the Wildcats on the board scoring three and a half minutes into the third period. He racked up his second of the night less than three minutes later when he beat Lakers goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson on a short handed breakaway narrowing the Lakers lead to one goal. A minute and a half later LSSU senior John Scrymgeour returned the favor by scoring shorthanded against NMU net minder Stewart.

LSSU's John Scrymgeour celebrates after scoring a shorthanded goal against NMU Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Wildcats Senior T.J. Miller brought the score back to within one with 7:43 left to play but empty net goals by the Lakers Zac MacVoy and Chad Nehring put the game out of reach and into the win column for LSSU.

The last games before the holiday break, the weekend sweep of the Wildcats extends the Lakers current winning streak to four, their longest of the season and puts them into sole possession of fifth place in the CCHA standings. “I think it was a really big weekend” said Lakers head coach Jim Roque. “It’ll be crazy over there at the end of the year.” referring to the two games the Lakers will play at NMU in February.

LSSU goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson (right) slides to block a breakaway shot by NMU's Andrew Cherniwchan (23) Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

The Lakers next game will be against Robert Morris on January 2nd and 3rd before facing off against number fourteen Michigan State on January 8th and 9th.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lakers Power Past Wildcats In First Of Two

LSSU's Fred Cassiani (13) breaks toward the net around NMU's Ray Kaunisto (left)during the second peiod of the Lakers Friday night game against the Wildcats at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Lake Superior State University hockey team was less than a minute away from their second shut out of the year when Northern Michigan Universities Phil Fox jammed the puck in for the Wildcats only score in their 5 to 1 lose to the home team Lakers at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie last night.

LSSU's Rick Schofield watches the puck after a faceoff during the second period of the Lakers Friday night game against the NMU Wildcats at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Lakers co-captain and individual points leader Rick Schofield started the Lakers scoring on what would be the first of the nights combined 12 power plays just over four minutes into the first period. He tallied the Lakers second goal less than three minutes later when he beat Wildcats starting net minder Brian Stewart on a shorthanded opportunity upping his point total to 17 for the year.

LSSU's Ben Power reacts after scoring during the third period of the Lakers Friday night game against the NMU Wildcats at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Freshman forward Ben Power and sophomore forward Fred Cassiani added to LSSU’s lead both scoring in the third period sending NMU’s visibly frustrated Stewart to the bench. The Lakers Chad Nehring scored the games only even strength goal of the night when he sent the puck past the glove hand of the Wildcats Reid Ellingson just over 15 minutes into the final period.

NMU goaltender Reid Ellingson reaches unsuccessfully for the puck during the third period of the Wildcats Frisy night game against the LSSU Lakers at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.

Prior to last nights game contests at Taffy Abel Arena were relatively low penalty affairs. One ten minute misconduct, one five minute holding call, two goaltender interference calls and three after the whistle roughing calls as tempers flared late in the third all helped bring the nights combined number of penalties to 19. The ten Lakers penalties were almost double their season average of 5.2 per game.

Referees try to break up a third period brawl between the LSSU Lakers and NMU Wildcats Friday night at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
LSSU's Matt Cowie (7) looks on as the Lakers starting goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson (35) makes one of his 30 saves during the second period of the Lakers Friday night game against WMU at Taffy Abel Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.
Lakers starting goaltender Brian Mahoney-Wilson made 30 saves on the night while NMU’s Stewart stopped 33 of the 37 he faced and Ellingson stopped 6. The Lakers and Wildcats will face off again tonight in Taffy Abel Arena at 7:05 p.m.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Northern Michigan Ski Resorts Open For the 2009/2010 Season

Dressed up for the coming holiday season the main lodge at Boyne Highlands Resort is shilouetted by the lights and snow gun plumes as the resort makes snow 24 hours a day to get ready for the up coming ski season.

A lack of natural snow and a warmer than normal fall will keep most northern Michigan ski areas from opening until December 11th or 18th but both Harbor Springs Resorts, Boyne Highlands and Nubs Nob, got off to an early start opening on a limited basis this weekend. Boyne Highlands used the social networking websites Facebook and Twitter to officially kick off their season offering internet users signed up as friends of the resort two hours of free skiing Saturday afternoon.

A happy unidentified skier gives a double thumbs up as he and his friends ride the lift to the top of Boyne Highlands Heather run after the resort officially opened its 2009/2010 ski season Saturday afternoon.

While the Highlands was open for skiing on one run with one lift operating on Sunday Nubs Nob had four runs open with two lifts taking skiers to the top of the hills. “We were all brown here last Thursday” said Nubs general manager Jim Bartlett “but with the snow guns and two feet of natural snow we’ve even got our cross country trails open.”

Both Resorts will close at four p.m. today and reopen on their regular full schedules next Friday at 9 a.m. “We’ve still got a lot of snow making to do.” said Bartlett but he anticipates that when the resort opens on Friday they should have at least twelve runs open for skiers.

With the lights from the slopes of neighboring Nubs Nob in the distance some of Boyne Highlands new low energy snow guns run through the night to get ready for the opening of the coming ski season.

While crews at resorts around the state will be busy making snow 24 hours a day with most using traditional snow making equipment Boyne will be using its new “Low E” or Low Energy snow guns to build up their base of snow. The new guns were developed by Boyne and are extremely more efficient than the older models. According to Boyne Highlands area manager Joe Breighner the new snow runs produce a lighter, drier snow.

Also added at Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls this year is a new Zip Line Adventure that lets resort visitors fly down the mountain using harnesses on a series of cables that are stretched back and forth the across the ski runs. The Zip Line is a very popular attraction that Boyne has been operating at its Big Sky Montana resort.

Boyne Highlands Resort general manager Brad Keen (left) lets photographers know that this is the first ski run of the season as he, Boyne Snow Sports Academy director Tony Sendlhoffer (center) and Boyne Resorts vice president of Ski Operations John McGregor (right) take the first chair lift ride to the top of the resorts Heather run to officially start the resorts 2009/10 ski season.

Both ski areas are looking forward to better seasons in 2009/10. According to Boyne USA vice president of ski operations John McGregor Boyne reservations are “up over 2008 and a little over 2007 levels” at this same time of year. “You have to be an optimist to be in this business” said Nubs Nobs Jim Bartlett. While the economy and rainy 2008 holiday season helped put a damper on last season Bartlett said “We’re slightly better off this year than we were last year.”
Almost all of the ski resorts in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula plan on being at least partially open next weekend including Boyne Mountain, Caberfae, Crystal Mountain, The Homestead, Treetops and Shanty Creek.