Our apologies for not posting sooner. We didn't see Jon's email and actually thought HE was the problem. Not so. Jon Marthaler bakes up a batch of delicious links just for you. Other times, you can find him here and here. Jon?


Happy Saturday! The sun is shining, the snow is sparkling, and the land is filled with the sweet sound of car engines refusing to turn over. I've been trying to find a silver lining in the regular subzero temperatures we've been seeing so far in 2010, and I think I've finally come up with one: the US Pond Hockey Championships (January 22-24, Lake Nokomis) won't have to worry for a second about having to cancel the event this year. Free, expansive ice for everyone! Let's all play!

Grab your skates and hit the local rink, then. But before you go, a few links:

*The Vikes Geek thinks he knows why the Vikings looked so much better last week than they did the week prior - offensive philosophy. I can find no flaw in his reasoning.

*I'm guessing that you're still riding the wave of euphoria that followed Team USA's dramatic overtime gold-medal win over Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships. (If not, you missed out, loser.) With that in mind, Chris at Western College Hockey takes a look at some possibility for next year's squad, which will - be still, racing heart - defend the gold in Buffalo next winter.

*Our local soccer team, the Minnesota Thunder, would appear to be dead - but a new team, run by the National Sports Center, is rising to take its place. The team was officially announced this week, and I was there to ask a few questions and get a few details. (My sincere and heartfelt apologies for self-servingly linking to myself, but as the official Minor Sports Correspondent at RandBall, I must weigh in.)

*And finally: Shane Nackerud at the Greet Machine attempts to determine, scientifically, the toughest mascot in the Big Ten. I warn you: his conclusions may be controversial.

That'll do it for me - now get outside, and embrace the cold! (If you stay inside, consider the possibility that Drew Brees actually wrote this himself, because if he did, he's immediately awarded all of the Awesome Points we can collectively muster.)

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Monday (Bonus Pat Neshek) edition: Wha' Happened?