Dean's Blog

Hockey Puck Contest Time: Year 18 and Counting!

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The snow has been falling for the past three weeks, which prompted me to kick off an annual event on schedule. Specifically, the Clements household hockey puck contest is about to begin, and you can become part of the 2013 edition. Perhaps some background is in order.

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 on December 21 following the first significant snowfalls of the season.  Take a look at the picture above to see from previous years how high the pile will actually get in that corner by late winter. 

The sun simply does not shine in the north corner, which annually produces 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 a new grandson, but I plan to continue the contest with the CGCS family for as long as I can get the puck down with the first snowfall.

And now onto this year's contest ...

By the powers vested in me, I now officially open the 18th annual hockey puck contest to any CGCS students, alumni, faculty, or staff who have not previously participated. The growing 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 22, 2013 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 email at or post a comment below with the date that you think the puck will “clear the bank.” “Clearing the bank” means the day that I can pick the puck up from the snow (actually glacial ice by then) at 8 a.m. … but this is not 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 a.m. 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 nor 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 (and an alternate date) 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! Alternatively, several winners have been from places like Hawaii and randomly guessed, or picked a birthdate.

Now for the big prize. Those who submit dates 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)

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!

Best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year!