Turning LePage on Wockey

Posted 4/25/19

My Fellow Wockeyites-


The final Wockey Pool, Wockey Pool XIII, has officially commenced!  Well, it actually did a week-and-a-half ago.  In fact, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Oh crap!  I forgot that was even a thing.  I had completely moved on.  Also, why do I suddenly feel nauseous again?”  Well that’s just the after effect of what was the greatest Wockey Pool ever.  Don’t worry.  With a little rest and some high grade, FDA-unapproved digestion relief, you’ll be just fine.


The championship game was a dominant performance by defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth from start to finish.  The Bulldogs took home their second straight title with a 3-0 win over first time national championship contestants Massachusetts.


As for the Wockey Pool, Duluth native Jacques LePage not only got to watch his beloved ‘Dogs take home their third title trophy in the past nine years, but also won the biggest Wockey Pool -- and the biggest Wockey Pool prize -- in the 13 year history of Wockey.  Jacques tied with Corey Morin and Andrew Blaeser for the most points with 54, but in the lowest scoring tournament we’ve seen in some time, his Total Goals tiebreaker of 68 ended up making the difference.  For his remarkable prognosticating prowess, Jacques wins $2472.54 as well as the Wockey Champion’s prize -- a set of swanky cornhole boards (with customized bags) that he can use to dominate another competition that’s only slightly less physically and slightly more mentally demanding than Wockey.


After breaking the 500 bracket barrier, I expanded the payouts from the top eight to the top ten.  Upon realizing that it put me just 401 spots out of the money, I tried to figure out how to pay out the top 411 spots.  Realizing that I would not only anger several people who thought they would win more money (but mainly due to the fact that I would’ve only won about 13 cents), I decided not to expand the payouts even further and keep it at the originally stated top ten.  Therefore, here are the other winners and their payouts.


2nd - $593.41 (12%) - Corey Morin

3rd - $420.33 (8.5%) - Andrew Blaeser

4th - $346.15 (7%) - Peter Markham

5th - $296.70 (6%) - Joel Sipper

6th - $247.25 (5%) - Mike Norby

7th - $197.80 (4%) - Nick Walker

8th - $148.35 (3%) - Ben Cahill

9th - $123.63 (2.5%) - Michael Forshee

10th - $98.90 (2%) - Chris Dahlin


Congratulations to all of the winners in Wockey Pool XIII!


On the other end of the bracket, bittersweet is a word one could use to describe Jon Tousignant’s 2019 Wockey Pool.  Although Jon tied three other Wockeyites -- Derek Martinson, Erik Pederson, and Stu Speicher -- with just one correct pick, his mistake in flip-flopping his Total Goals Scored and Frozen Four Goals Scored tiebreakers earned him -- and that word “earned” couldn’t be used more appropriately -- the title of Wockey Puckhead.  On Facebook, Jon had the audacity to blame his poor picks on his 13-month old child, though unsurprisingly there was no mention of the child incorrectly inputting his tiebreaker picks, which had it been done correctly, would have resulted in Jon not coming in last.  What a perfectly Puckheaded finish at the bottom of the final Wockey Pool.


Of course, just like Jacques at the top of the standings, Jon is also an avid Bulldog fan.  So while the sight of his Puckhead prize with his own head bobbing unceasingly in Wockey shame will forever remind him of his failure, the sweet thrill of victory will soften the blow of what will undoubtedly be the ultimate failure of his life.


And so that puts a wrap on not only Wockey 2019, but on the Wockey Pool franchise.  I believe we sufficiently captured the crown of the most well organized, most dramatic, and most enjoyable competition in the history of humanity, a title which now that Wockey is no more, will most assuredly go to this competition.


I have to admit, I’m feeling a bit like our Puckhead right now (I mean, besides the gnawing feeling of inferiority and disgust) in that this is a bittersweet post for me to write.  I started this pool 13 years ago as a way to not only spread the love of college hockey, but as a creative outlet for myself.  I had no goals for this pool other than those two relatively vague ones, and It has grown and morphed and developed into something I could have never foreseen when I started it.  It’s hard to put something like this -- something that has developed into such a quirky, fun tradition and community of people -- aside for good. 


But while a lot of people have asked why it’s happening, the fact that this post isn’t coming out until a week-and-a-half after the tournament ended would I hope suffice as an answer.  Damn life.  If it could be Wockey every day, it would be wonderful, but there was a time and a place for Wockey, and that has passed.  Maybe it will come back some day.  Maybe it will take some other form.  I actually had an entrant reach out to me who discovered the pool just by browsing the internet, which is astonishing to me because when I’ve searched for “college hockey pool” in the past, Wockey generally showed up around the 368th page of results after more logical returns including Dartmouth’s swimming team, an adult hockey league in Florida, and even a fantasy NCAA women’s hockey league.  Seriously.


But for now, Wockey must bid adieu.  Before I wrap, though, I have some serious thank yous to hand out.


To the Original 16:  Long ago, I lost any evidence of who was involved in that very first Wockey Pool.  I know for sure that it included eventual Wockey champs Jason Kuss and Aaron Soroka.  I’d have to imagine it included my brothers, Nick, Zach, and Chris Walker and my dad, Todd.  I’m quite confident that it included eventual Puckhead Chris Smith as well as childhood friends John Vajda and Nate Tkach in addition to college friends Matt Kilby, Nick Gaither, Jeremy Meyer, and Joe Frye.  And I know that it included Joe Dufek, as he was the first Wockey Puckhead.  To whomever was included in those first 16, thank you for jumping into this crazy endeavor with me, for helping me grow it in subsequent years, and for not quitting despite the fact that you had to put up with my crazy e-mails and the awkward result of my winning that first year (the first and last time I’ve ever finished in the money).


To Lisa Walker:  As the pool grew, it quickly became unmanageable to keep track of scoring.  Being spreadsheet illiterate, I enlisted the help of my sister-in-law, Lisa, to help me create an Excel document that I could use to input picks, update scores, and share with the rest of the pool to ensure honest results.  In true Wockey spirit, she took on the task with passion and excitement and created something that not only eased the work of early Wockey Pools, but is something I still use today to determine potential outcomes despite the fact that it’s old enough to belong in a Microsoft museum.


To Nate Tkach:  I don’t think Nate ever participated in Wockey after that first year.  I’m confident of this because when I went to Nate after the 4th Pool looking for help creating the website, he not only didn’t know about the pool, but also accidentally created wookiepool.com before I corrected him on the spelling.  Nevertheless, the hours he put in to create the first Wockey website were invaluable as the Pool had gotten too large for me to run via spreadsheet anymore.  He’s the one who designed the logo we still use today, and Nate’s initial work eventually led to the involvement of the biggest contributor to the success of Wockey…


To Mike Varian, Wockey Webmaster:  Many of you don’t know Mike, but if you’ve enjoyed even an ounce of Wockey over the past eight years, then you have Mike to thank.  While I’m the face of the franchise, Mike is the guts.  After seeing what Nate had done with the website, Mike -- a long time Wockey fan who, along with his wife Mary, perfected the art of having pets make their picks -- asked if he could take a stab at running it.  What he created, all on his own without ever asking for a cent, is what took Wockey to another level. 


There is absolutely no way Wockey could have ever handled 538 entries without the work Mike put in.  From website design to bracket creation to entry payments Mike has cultivated and managed the bracket experience giving me the freedom to focus on the wacky side of Wockey.  Mike put time aside to test and prepare the site for use every year, to handle inevitable website and payment issues, to humor my wild and harebrained ideas for Wockey and to give me “the look” when something I suggested was too outlandish to reasonably consider (I once asked him to create a Wockey app).  


When Mike told me before Wockey 2019 that the website was on its last legs and that it would take 40 hours of work to remake, it was another sign to me that it was time for this grand experiment to come to an end.  But it would’ve ended long, long ago, without the efforts of our esteemed webmaster. 


Mike, thank you from the bottom of our collective Wockey hearts for all that you’ve done to make Wockey what it’s become.


To Sarah Walker, the First Lady of Wockey:  When I first created the Pool, it was in an office when I had a ton of free time and it took me about a half-hour max to write an invite e-mail, a scoring update, or a recap.  As the Pool grew, my wife saw how much it thrilled me to see it grow, to spend time watching college hockey, and to delve ever deeper into my twisted mind to craft long, meandering, and completely ridiculous recaps.  I used to write something each of the four days from bracket announcement to drop of the puck, after every night of the tournament, and even during the off week between the regionals and the Frozen Four.  I was obsessed.  Any reasonable spouse couldn’t have been faulted for telling me to shut my computer, come to bed, and to stop ignoring her and my kids for the entertainment of what was then a few dozen people.


Instead, she kissed me good night, told me not to stay up too late (though she knew I would), and took care of me and the kids when I was groggy and lifeless the next day only to then start the cycle again that very night.


When it comes to creativity, a good spouse not only puts up with your crazy, irrational urges, but encourages them.  I have to tell you -- I have the best wife.  She’s not only put up with Wockey, but has gotten others involved, gotten my kids excited about it, took the time to read my recaps when she had better things to do, supported me when I told her I was thinking about concluding it, and dealt with me when I would come home from long nights or weeks of work -- sometimes on the road -- only to come back and say that I needed to finish my Wockey responsibilities.  And she’ll be there again when next year rolls around and I tell her that while I know I can’t restart it, I’m definitely missing Wockey.


Sarah, thank you.  In as much as I’ve put in effort to create and grow Wockey, it never would’ve been possible without your love and support.  I love you.


And finally, to you:  I say it every year at the end of Wockey, and it never becomes less true.  YOU are the lifeblood of Wockey.  I used to push and push and push to grow Wockey.  But then a couple years ago, I realized I didn’t have to do that anymore.  You did it for me.  I can’t even begin to count how many people I’ve personally never met, but have become online acquaintances with who participate in the pool.  That’s because you’ve done just what I’ve asked.  You’ve reached out to friends, family, co-workers and others to get them involved in this silly, little game.  Whether this was your first Wockey or your 13th, you’ve helped expand this community that has never stopped surprising me.  From Matt Fox and his quirky Jan Terri videos, to Jennifer Toll, my childhood friend whom I hadn’t talked to in 30 years showing up as a Wockey Champion, to Merrill Stillwell, the Wockeyite I alluded to before who randomly found Wockey from an internet search, to John Freaking Buccigross and Barry Freaking Melrose giving a completely improvised shout out to Wockey on our Facebook page, I can’t believe how much you and this pool have given back to me.  And so to you Wockey Nation I thank you.


And with that it’s time to say goodbye to Wockey.  It’s been an incredible ride. 


For the last time, I am...


Your Humbled, Grateful, Indebted, Appreciative, Honored Wockey Commish,



P.S.  This.


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