Last week? Not so good as the week before …
Last week: 4-4-2 (.500)
Season to date: 63-35-18 (.621)
I am grateful to be above .500 overall nearing the midway point of the season.
It’s rare in mid-December for nearly everyone to play, but that’s how it is this weekend in the CCHA with only Alaska done for the first half of the season. Six teams are playing two-game series and four are playing single games — and two series feature traditional rivals.
No. 19 Ferris State at Michigan State. Each of these teams was swept on the road by a CCHA opponent last weekend, each team scoring three goals in the weekend. The Bulldogs lost to Western Michigan, 4-2 and 2-1, while the Spartans lost to Notre Dame, 3-2 and 5-1. The losses put FSU in the middle and MSU at the bottom, with nine points separating the teams. FSU is 4-2-0 versus MSU in the past two seasons, including two one-goal home wins last year. This single game is Saturday evening at 5:05 p.m. FSU 3-2
No. 4 Miami at Ohio State. Last weekend, the RedHawks split a pair of one-goal games at home against the Lakers, winning 3-2 and losing 1-0. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes lost to Robert Morris at home 3-2 before tying the Colonials 2-2 on the road. Incidentally, OSU has never beaten RMU in Columbus, where Derek Schooley is 3-0 against The Ohio State University. Miami was 3-1-0 against OSU last season, although the teams have split the last four games played in Columbus. Friday’s game begins at 7:05 p.m., Saturday’s at 8:05 p.m. Miami 3-2, OSU 3-2
Northern Michigan at Lake Superior State. The Wildcats last played Tuesday, Dec. 4, a 2-1 home win over Michigan Tech. That game followed closely after NMU’s sweep at the hands of Western Michigan, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. The Lakers split with Miami on the road last weekend, losing Friday and shutting out the RedHawks 1-0 Saturday. Last season, the Wildcats were 3-1-0 versus the Lakers. Friday’s game begins at 7:35 p.m., Saturday’s at 7:05 p.m. LSSU 4-3, NMU 2-1
No. 3 Notre Dame at Bowling Green. Each of these teams got the better of its opponent last weekend, with the Irish sweeping visiting Michigan State and the Falcons defeating and tying Alaska on the road. For the Irish, the six points they earned gave them sole possession of first place — at least for this week — while the four points the Falcons earned weren’t enough to get them out of the cellar but were enough to give them a glimpse of daylight; the Irish are now two points ahead of second-place Miami while the last-place Falcons share that spot with the Spartans and Wildcats, three points behind Michigan. Saturday’s game is the 100th meeting between these two programs. Although the teams are tied 24-24-3 all-time in Bowling Green, the Irish swept the Falcons in BG last season. This single game is Saturday at 7:05 p.m. ND 3-2
No. 7 Western Michigan at Michigan. Last weekend, the Broncos swept the Bulldogs at home while the Wolverines last played Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, when they lost to and tied Ferris State. WMU rides a five-game unbeaten streak into this weekend, having lost last Nov. 16; in roughly that same span, UM is 1-4-1. The teams split a pair in Ann Arbor last season and the Broncos are 3-3-0 in their last six versus the Wolverines. This is a Friday-Saturday series, with games beginning at 7:35 p.m. each night. WMU 3-2, 3-2
As promised, cookies
The years progress but this recipe never gets old. I’ve lost count of the number of readers who’ve contacted me to either ask for the recipe or share their success with it. Some folks vary it, making the cookies thicker and icing them. To each his or her own, but I prefer these thin and slightly chewy, with sugar on the top and not icing. I do have an excellent recipe for iced butter cutout cookies if anyone’s interested.
My 78-year-old mother, Dolly Weston, once again spent days and days baking for Christmas in recent weeks. I don’t know how she does it. This one is definitely my favorite — and that’s saying something, since she is an excellent baker with many outstanding recipes.
Dolly’s cut-out cookies
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
half tsp. nutmeg
1 cup butter
4 tsp. milk (1 tbs. plus 1 tsp.)
1 tsp vanilla
• Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
• Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time. Add milk.
• Mix dry and moist ingredients together until smooth.
• Divide into workable amounts and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. The dough will be really gooey before you refrigerate it, really hard after refrigeration.
• Preheat oven to 375.
• Roll a small amount of dough one-eighth to one-quarter inch thick. Keep the remaining dough refrigerated.
• Cut into festive shapes. Mom always prefers bells and other rounded shapes, as they are less likely to get too crisp around the edges. Place on ungreased baking sheets.
• Brush with beaten egg whites and decorate with colored sugar before baking.
• Bake five to 10 minutes and watch carefully; these can burn quickly. They should not brown at the edges.
Make sure your rolling pin is cold and that the work surface is floured. I cut the flour with powdered sugar so that I’m not adding too much flour to the dough. Work quickly because the dough warms quickly. I always kick up the nutmeg a notch, too, but my mom does not.
The dough freezes well after it’s cooled in the fridge if it’s wrapped really, really tightly in plastic. Thaw it in the refrigerator before using. I also frequently double this recipe when I make it, but that makes a lot of cookies — certainly enough to share.
I’ll be taking a look back at the first half of the season while tackling end-of-semester grading. There will be coffee, lots and lots of coffee.
This weekend, I’ll be at the Friday WMU-UM game and Saturday’s FSU-MSU game. Very excited to see both the Broncos and Bulldogs for the first time in person this season. If you’re around the rinks, please say hello.
Find me on Twitter (@paulacweston) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want to chant and/or taunt.