Monday, May 23, 2011

Petoskey Opens Whitewater Paddling Park

Wolverine resident Rick Meisterheim tackles one of the Bear River Valley
Recreation Area's new whitewater features during the facilities grand
opening Saturday.

Petoskey’s grand opening of their new whitewater park gives Michigan canoe and kayak enthusiasts a new place to enjoy their sport. The improved section of the Bear River is now one of only two such parks in the lower peninsula and the first of this length below the bridge.

Harbor Springs resident Wayne Blomberg (foreground) practices
in his whitewater canoe at the Bear River Valley Recreation Area's
new whitewater park.

The one mile stretch of river that starts at Sheridan Street and ends just upstream of Lake Street is a part of the city’s major make over of the Bear River Valley Recreation Area that includes new parking, public restroom facilities, pedestrian sidewalks and trails, and a new access point off of Elizabeth Street.

The parks renovation was overseen by the Petoskey firm of Beckett and Raeder who worked with a whitewater park design firm to make the necessary improvements to the river. With an elevation drop of 80 feet the park has the steepest drop of any river in the lower peninsula according to the firms Tim Knutsen who was on hand Saturday for the official opening.

12 year old Bow Rudolph of Harbor Springs makes his first run
down the Bear River Valley Recreation Area's new whitewater park.

Northern Michigan Paddling Club vice president Gary Hunter feels that under normal conditions the park will have a 2 to 2.5 rating on the whitewater rating scale which ranges from an easy 1 to an expert 6. During periods of heavy rain it could rate “up to a class 3 and during the recent high water it was pushing a 4.” according to Hunter. The only real issue paddlers will have to deal with at normal river levels is shallow water along some parts of the course.

Hunter has been involved with the project from the start and says that the roughly ten percent of the total budget that was spent on river improvements will most likely turn out to be the most cost effective.. “It’s a huge reason to come to northern Michigan if your into paddling. The future economic impact will be tremendous” says hunter who is also involved in organizing Petoskey’s youth soccer tournaments. In addition to people who come here to paddle the whitewater features are likely to be a hit with none paddling visitors as well. Hunter says he has seen studies that show that “80% of (whitewater park) users are passive, non kayakers.”

Northern Michigan Paddling Club member Wayne Blomberg gives
Petoskey resident Missy Kruskie paddling tips during the opening of the
Bear River Valley Recreation Area's whitewater park.

While there are currently no firm plans for the Northern Michigan Paddling Club to hold major events at the facility club member David Pizzuti says the club may offer some sort of paddling instruction in the future and there are plans in the works to have weekly “throw down” events there. The clubs goals at the park are “getting people out here, creating awareness and introducing them to the sport.” says Pizzuti.

More information about the Bear River Whitewater Park and paddling events there can be found on the Northern Michigan Paddling Club’s website at:


Recruiters March for Paralyzed Vets

Staff Sergeant Ken Hubbard is joined by his daughter
as he completes the recruiters march from Indian River to Petoskey
to raise money for the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
For the second Armed Forces Day in as many years Army recruiters from the Petoskey office have again marched to raise money for the Michigan Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Wearing fully loaded packs, Sergeant First Class Jason Holley, Sergeant First Class Russ Tansey and Staff Sergeant Ken Hubbard made the almost twenty mile trek from Indian River to Petoskey by way of M-68 and US 31 accepting donations from people along the way. The trio left Indian River just after 7 a.m. and made it to their Petoskey waterfront park destination just before 3 p.m.

While donations were down this year, between pre-march donations and ones they collected along the route the group still managed to raise just shy of $630.00 for the PVA. Their largest donor from last year has not made their donation yet but the group is hoping to hear from them in the near future.

Petoskey recruiting office soldiers (left to right in black) Sergeant
First Class Jason Holley, Sergeant First Class Russ Tansey and
Staff Sergeant Ken Hubbard and Paralyzed Veterans of America,
Michigan chapter executive director Michael Harris (seated) after
 the completion of the recruiters Indian River to Petoskey march.
Donations are still being accepted and can be made by calling the Petoskey Army recruiting office at (231) 347-6036 or by contacting Michigan Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America through their website at

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fiddler's Jamboree

Audience members dance in front of the stage at the 2011
Fiddler's Jamboree in East Jordan.
  They may play on a violin but it was fiddlers that were taking to the stage this past Saturday at the Fiddler’s Jamboree in East Jordan. More than thirty individual fiddlers and groups entertained crowds at East Jordan’s Harvest Barn Church including performers from Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Boyne City, the Harbor Springs/Petoskey area and Ontario, Canada.

The jamboree is an annual event held by the Jordan Valley Fiddlers to help promote music programs for young people. According to their mission statement; “To promote, maintain and pass down the tradition of old time fiddle music and dancing.”

A Traverse City teen plays along with her Ukelele accompaniment
at the East Jordan Fiddler's Jamboree. 
The East Jordan jamboree “caters to the younger folks” said Dan Johnston, president of the event’s organizing committee. Funds that are raised at the event are awarded to individual students to further their musical talents. According to Mr. Johnston scholarships are primarily paid, on behalf of students, directly to area music instructors for one on one lessons.

Even though most music instructors teach more of the standard styles of violin Mr. Johnston feels that these types of lessons do help kids who want to learn how to fiddle. According to Mr. Johnston, a fifty-year fiddler himself, most accomplished fiddle players “started in a classical or semi classical form”.

Crooked Tree Arts Center music education director Robert Dudd
and Amanda Westrick of Boyne City perform at the 2011
Fiddler's Jamboree in East Jordan.
Petoskey’s Crooked Tree Arts Center music education director Robert Dudd has participated in the Jamboree since he arrived in northern Michigan eight years ago. His Youth Orchestra was one of the groups that performed during the afternoon rotation. The jamboree “is a big source of assistance to families that are paying for programs” said Mr. Dudd in a telephone interview. “It gives kids the opportunity to concentrate on fiddle work.”

The evening festivities included an old fashioned square dance where a rotation of callers directed dancers around the floor. With square dancing remaining popular in Canada many of the evenings guest callers where from the Ontario area.

The sluggish economy and bad weather in the southern part of the State may have put a damper on both attendance and donations at this years event but not on the spirits of the organizing committee. Even though this was Mr. Johnston’s last year at the helm he is confident that it’s roughly fifteen-year history will continue and he is looking forward to performing again in next years jamboree.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

LSSU Defeats Ohio State to Advance in CCHA Playoffs

Lake Superior State Lakers swarm goal tender Kevin
Kapalka after defeating OSU in round one of the CCHA
playoffs at Taffy Abel Arena.
Its playoff season in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) and this weekends first round match up pitted the number eight finisher, the Lake Superior State Lakers against the number nine Ohio State Buckeyes. Enjoying home ice advantage at Taffy Abel Arena the stage was set for the Lakers squad to bounce back in a big way after being swept by Miami of Ohio in their final regular season series which they did by taking the first two games in the best of three series and advancing into round two.

OSU starting goal tender Cal Heeter

The series started Friday night and even though the score might have made it sound like a one sided offensive triumph for the Lakers that was not the case. It was in fact a defensive battle in which the stars, OSU starting goalie Cal Heeter and LSSU starting goaltender, freshman Kevin Kapalka, whose .926 save percentage is second in the conference, combined for a total of 84 saves. Kalpalka’s 48 saves was a career high that earned him his first playoff victory and the shutout.

LSSU's (left to right) Chad Nehring, Kevin Kalpalka, Zach Trotman
 and Will Acton form a wall in front of the net during round one of
the CCHA playoffs.
 Other than a first period even strength score by the Lakers Dan Radke the net minders held their opponents scoreless until almost the halfway point of the third including a combined 39 second period saves. Laker freshman Kellan Lain put the second dent in the goaltender shoot out when he beat Heeter at the 9:44 mark of the third. LSSU added two more points on empty net scores by team captain Rick Schofield and sophomore Nick McParland. Schofield’s score was his 100th point as a Laker.

It was clear Saturday night that both teams had shifted into playoff mode as they came out at a fast and furious pace.

LSSU's Zach Trotman, Will Acton and Rick Schofield
celebrate Schofields second period score Saturday night.
O for 3 on Friday night the Lakers power play was the first to score Saturday when sophomore Ben Power found the back of the OSU net 11:15 into the first period. Lakers senior Will Acton tacked on number two with an even strength goal just past the six minute mark of the second period and captain Rick Schofield capitalized on the Lakers third power play opportunity giving the Lakers a 3-0 lead that they would take into the third period.

OSU wasn’t going down without a fight and they came out in the third to prove it. The Buckeyes finally managed to crowd the from of the net and scored twice in the first six minutes of third. LSSU starter Kevin Kapalka and the Lakers defense managed to hold off Ohio States offense after that to claim their berth in the next playoff round.

The Lakers round two opponent won’t be known until the completion of the remaining first round CCHA playoff series’.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Miami Sweeps LSSU in Final Regular Season Series

Miami of Ohio's Curtis McKenzie (front) races up ice ahead of
 LSSU's Matt Bruneteau during the Redhawks 4 - 1 win Saturday night
 at Taffy Abel Arena.
The Lake Superior State Lakers ice hockey team may have come into this weekends CCHA match up against Miami of Ohio thinking they could sweep the 11th ranked Redhawks but it didn’t happen. The Lakers, who were honoring their graduating seniors this weekend, managed only two goals in the series losing Friday night by a score of 8 -1 then 4 - 1 on Saturday.

“We went into the weekend thinking we could win two games and get a buy” (a week off during the first round of the upcoming conference playoffs) , said Laker head coach Jim Roque in Saturday nights post game interviews. “We really believed that in our hearts”

Miami senior Carter Camper got the Redhawks off to a fast start on Friday scoring on Laker starting goaltender Kevin Kapalka at just past the three minute mark of the first period. Reilly Smith extended the lead to 2 - 0 before the end of the first period and Justin Vaive tallied two scores in the second bringing the Redhawk advantage to 4 - 0.

Miami's Andy Miele (right)brings the puck past LSSU's Kyle Haines
 and around the net as LSSU goaltender Kevin Kapalka (left)
 slides to cover the open side of the goal.
At the beginning of the third the Lakers coaching staff opted to give their starting netminder a rest putting in backup Niels-Erik Ravn. Miami scored on Ravn four times in the period on seven shots. Despite the loses the Friday night third period effort put forth by the squad was coach Roques only real disappointment of the weekend. “I didn’t think our guys did enough to help Niels.” he said. “He’s a kid that’s out there every day, right to the end of practice, taking shots, helping out. I just thought our guys could have done more to help that kid in that twenty minutes”.

Laker junior Fred Cassiani scored LSSU’s only goal of the night Friday when he beat Miami goaltender Cody Reichard at the 16:25 mark of the third period. Redhawk Carter Camper picked up his second of the night and nabbed the first of the Miami third period goals during a 5 on 3 opportunity followed by Reilly Smith’s second of the game with Pat Cannone and Andy Miele, who leads the nation in scoring, adding numbers seven and eight to the score sheet.

The Lakers celebration of their senior’s last home game didn’t get off to a much better start Saturday when a mistake at their offensive blue line quickly left goalie Kevin Kapalka facing a 4 on 1 rush. Reilly Smith, with assists from Andy Miele and Cameron Schilling, made the Lakers pay for the mistake to start the Redhawk scoring just over a minute into the game.

Miami’s Curtis McKenzie added an even strength goal and Will Weber took it to 3 - 0 with a short handed score. Matt Tomassoni capped off the Redhawks weekend with an empty netter just before the end of the third period.

LSSU captain Rick Schofield ended his regular season career with the Lakers only score of the night on a third period power play opportunity. It was certainly not the way Schofield anticipated his final non-playoff home game to end but according to Miami head coach Enrico Blasi his career at LSSU did not go unnoticed. “He’s been one of my favorite players in the league, he plays hard every night”. Asked about his post game on ice conversation with the Laker captain, Blasi said “I just told him that he’s had a great career, good luck in the playoffs.” “Hopefully things go well for him in the future. I would take him on our team any day.”

Miami defenseman and Gaylord Michigan native Will Weber (left) and
Reilly Smith (right)  close in on LSSU team captain Rck Schofield
 as he works the puck up ice.

All in all coach Roque was not overly disappointed with his teams effort against the Redhawks who, in addition to their current national ranking, have made it to the nations Frozen Four in both of the last two years. “We worked really hard tonight, I was really happy with our effort tonight. If we play like that going forward I’m okay with that.”

With the new playoff format being implemented by the CCHA this year all eleven teams in the conference will compete for the league championship. The top five teams will get a week off while next weekend the remaining six will battle it out for the right to advance. LSSU 8th place finish in the conference means that they will face off at home next weekend against the number 9 finisher, Ohio State, in a best of three series to determine which team will advance.

“Now it’s a new season. You live day to day now starting next Friday night with game one against Ohio State” said Jim Roque. “We get home ice and we have to take advantage of that next week then obviously try to go wherever after that.”

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February Thaw

Harbor Springs resident John Riggs takes advantage of
the warmer weather to practice his uni-cycle riding.

With warmer than normal temperatures expected until the weekend northern Michigan’s February thaw has given many area residents an opportunity to get outside and shake off a little cabin fever. Even though the ice on area lakes is now largely covered with a layer of melt water ice fishermen were out in strong numbers enjoying the warmer temps this morning.

On the down side, snowmobile and cross country ski trails may not fair so well. Snowmobile trails in many high traffic areas are now more mud than snow and non-resort cross country ski trials may wind up in pretty rough shape.

While area ski resorts, with deep base layers of natural and manmade snow will survive the warm stretch hopefully the snow in the forecast will bring enough accumulation to fill in the voids on the snowmobile and cross country trails.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lakers Drop One, Earn One Against MSU

K. Johnston/Eagle FI
(publication delayed due to techinacal difficulties)

Coming home after a five game exhibition series in Canada the Lake Superior State Lakers ice hockey squad started the second half of their CCHA season at home against the Michigan State Spartans.

A defensive battle for the first two periods of the Friday night opener at Taffy Abel arena didn’t stay that way in the third when the MSU offense opened up on Lakers starting goal tender Kevin Kapalka. The Spartan’s Daultan Leveille was the first to score beating Kapalka 5:45 into the final period. MSU’s Dean Chelios picked up his 3rd goal of the year just before the periods thirteen minute mark with Spartan Brett Perlini netting his 13th and 14th of the year both within the next four minutes.

The Lakers racked up 24 shots against MSU starting goaltender Will Yanakeff and while they came close even bouncing a few off the crossbar LSSU was unable to score on the freshman goaltender who earned the 4 - 0 shutout win.

The home town fans got a lot to cheer about on Saturday night with a Rocky Balboa performance from goalie Kevin Kapalka and a Laker offense that finally managed to find the back of the MSU net.

Michigan State’s Brock Shelgren drew first blood against the Lakers at the six minute mark of the first period. Laker team captain Rick Schofield missed on a shorthanded chance early but didn’t let a second opportunity get away as he split the MSU defensemen during a power play kill and put the puck past Will Yanakeff to even the score with an unassisted goal, his 8th of the year. MSU’s Derek Grant gave the Spartans back the lead 41 seconds later when he beat LSSU netminder Kapalka to close out the games first period scoring.

LSSU Nick McParland tied the score at 2 just before the 11:30 mark of the second period and despite having a man advantage for the last four minutes of regulation play when Lakers Dan Radke was tagged with a 5 minute hitting from behind penalty the Spartans were unable to reclaim the lead sending the game to an overtime period.

With the balance of the Radke penalty carrying over to the beginning of the 5 minute overtime and an additional two minutes of man advantage when LSSU’s Nick McParland was called for high sticking Laker goalie Kevin Kapalka stepped to the plate stopping three MSU shots to send the game to a shoot out to decide the winner.

Spartan head coach sent out Dean Chelios as his first shooter to challenge Kapalka but he was unable to score. LSSU’s Rick Schofield shot first for the Lakers and beat MSU’s Yanakeff. MSU’s Greg Wolfe evened the shootout score on the Spartans next attempt followed by a miss by the Lakers Domenic Monardo. MSU’s third shooter Brett Perlini failed to get the puck past Kapalka but during the save Kapalka dislocated his shoulder. After numerous attempts to pop it back into place Kapalka left the ice giving up the net to his backup Niels-Erik Ravn.

After a missed attempt by Laker Will Acton, Ravn was preparing to face MSU’s Joey Shean but was denied the chance when, with the roaring its approval of the more than 3300 spectators, Kapalka returned to the ice. Kapalka stopped Shean’s shot but re-dislocated his shoulder in the process forcing him back to the bench.

With an empty net behind him LSSU’s Ben Power ended the game when he scored on Yanakeff giving the Lakers the extra conference play point.

After the game, unhappy about the seven minutes of penalties his team received in the last ten minutes of play, Laker head coach Jim Roque was awarded a 5 minute Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty and a 10 minute Game Misconduct for his part in a heated discussion with officials.