Dean's Blog

Hockey Puck Contest: HPC20

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Welcome to the New Year and the depths of winter in the North Country, although I am heartened to track the incremental gains in daylight that began after the winter solstice. The forecast for January is for more winter weather and signals the start of the annual hockey puck contest, now in its 20th official year. You can become part of the 2015 edition but some background is in order first.

Each year I bury a hockey puck in the north corner of my home, where the snow can get quite deep at times coming from three roofs; an eight foot high pile is not unusual for this corner. This year the puck was buried about a week before Thanksgiving following the first significant snowfall of the season and the onset of unseasonably cold temperatures. Take a look at a picture from previous years to see how high the pile will actually get in that corner by late winter.

The sun simply doesn’t shine in the north corner, which annually accounts for the last snow pile to melt in the spring, exposing the puck when spring has truly arrived! The hockey puck contest started accidentally when my children were younger and a tennis ball was left in the yard during the winter, giving me the idea of “planting” a puck and seeing if we could guess when it would emerge. Until a few years ago, this was only a family event in which the winner would pick a restaurant of her choice for dinner. The winning and choice part ended up being moot because we all went to dinner anyway and usually ate at my brother’s restaurant over the mountain, but it was a good way to celebrate spring. Both children are out of the house and I now have two grandchildren, but I plan to continue the contest for as long as I can get the puck in place with the first snowfall.

And now onto the 2015 Contest ...

By the powers vested in me my by myself, I now officially open the twentieth annual hockey puck contest to any CGCS students, faculty or staff who have not previously participated. The popularity of the contest requires that it be limited to first timers, because of numbers and the advantage previous entrants might have by knowing when the puck emerged in earlier years. All entries must be received by Friday, February 20, 2015 to be officially entered.

Don’t miss the chance to be the first on your block to win the “puck out” contest. Simply send me an e-mail at or post a comment below with the date that you think the puck will “clear the bank.” As for technicalities honed over several decades - “clearing the bank” means the day that I can pick the puck up from the snow (actually glacial ice by then) at 8 AM, which isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. While I can often see the puck the last day or two before it clears, it cannot be frozen in ice or otherwise lodged in the bank when I try to pick it up at 8 AM. Some mornings are warm and it will come right up, on other more traditional spring mornings (suited to maple sugar season) it will be securely frozen in ice until the temperature warms up.

I should probably share a helpful hint with you based on experience. The puck is not likely to clear before March 15 or later than May 15. Therefore, your date should be somewhere in between; only one person will be able to claim each day so send your entry in early and please let me know which program you are in since there are also program bragging rights involved. Those with experience in a cold climate may have an edge in knowing how long snow will linger in a corner that never receives direct sunlight!

Now for the big prize. The person(s) who is (are) on or closest to the actual date will receive an official Norwich University hockey puck; the very puck used for games AND a pint of real Vermont maple syrup boiled from a local sugar house. You can start your own puck drop if you win, provided the snow gets deep enough where you live.

Previous winners include:
2004: Janet Mara (MBA) and Bill Sheets (Justice Administration)
2005: Terry Pippin (Justice Administration)
2006: John Wigginton (Information Assurance)
2007: Chuck Robideaux (Civil Engineering)
2008: Andrea de la Pena (MBA)
2009: Deborah Pike (Military History)
2010: Shawn Decker (Public Administration)
2011: Sydney Nice (Diplomacy)
2012: Dennis Whisman (Information Assurance)
2013: Jason Fortin (Civil Engineering)
2014: Anthony Lozano (Military History)

Sharpen your calculation skills and knowledge of North Country climate to send in your best estimate of the puck out day. Spring is around the corner, trust me!