Hockey Puck Contest Time: Year Twenty-Two and Counting

by William Clements, PhD on 1/9/17 12:19 PM

hockey-puck.jpgWe are about to start a New Year and full winter season with plenty of snow and cold temperatures in most of Vermont. I have decided to kick off an annual event a little early this year given predictions for a normal to above normal snowfall this winter. Specifically, the Clements household hockey puck contest is about to begin, and you can become part of the 2017 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. 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 snow has already started to accumulate so the conditions are right to open the contest early.

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. Initially, 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.

Contest Details

By the powers vested in me by myself, I now officially open the twenty-second annual hockey puck contest to any College of Graduate and Continuing Studies (CGCS) students, 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 10, 2017 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 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 AM…this 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. If you have chosen a date already selected I will assign the next nearest date. 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 (History)
2015:  Eric Rutledge (MBA) and Jordan DiPietro (MBA)
2016:  Melody Madden (Diplomacy)

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!

Norwich University Online
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This post was written by William Clements, PhD

William “Bill” Clements, PhD, wears several hats at Norwich University. In addition to serving as Dean of the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies (CGCS), he is the College’s Vice President of Academic Affairs and a professor in the undergraduate criminal justice program. Prior to becoming Dean in 2005, he was the founding director of the Master of Justice Administration program and the executive director of the Vermont Center for Justice Research, an institutional research partner of Norwich University. Dean Clements began his Norwich career in 1987 as a criminal justice professor and was among the first Norwich professors to integrate online instruction and web-based resources into his teaching. In 1999, he piloted a mobile computing initiative with undergraduate criminal justice majors and was subsequently involved in developing the online graduate program model, which today serves several thousand students across several master’s degree programs and bachelor’s degree completion program, and a variety of certificate and enrichment programs.