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The Sporting Life: It Isn’t All About Football, Folks. Take in Some Quality Games this Winter that Don’t Require 12 Layers of Clothes 

High School Hockey

With the formation of a new powerhouse high school hockey league — the Great Lakes Hockey League — some of the region's most storied programs will have the benefit of codified division rivalries. To kick off the season, St. Ignatius and University School duked it out on the ice of Quicken Loans Arena. The Preppers took the game in a shootout after a 3-3 tie at the end of regulation. It set the tone for what should be an exciting year of boys' hockey in Northeast Ohio. The GLHL Tournament ( Feb. 6-9) at Iceland USA will feature St. Ignatius, University School, St. Ed's, Gilmour Academy, Lake Catholic, Walsh Jesuit, and perennial force Padua.   

Cleveland Cavaliers Basketball

Here's a list of the professional basketball players in Cleveland who have underperformed this year: Everyone. Well, everyone except Andrew Bynum I guess. He hasn't played well, but the fact that he's playing at all is a step above "underperformance." Also Matthew Dellavedova, the Aussie with a jackrabbit mouth guard, has been a pleasant, plucky surprise. The front office and fans were all expecting the Cavs to make the playoffs this year and then things predictably imploded, but let's try to remember two things: 1) This is a team that last year won only five of its first 28 games, a team that finished the season at 24-58. To expect a 42 or even 40 win season was maybe wishful thinking. Change that drastic doesn't happen without the significant personnel upgrades (see Boston Celtics, '07-'08). Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack and Mike Brown are improvements, but they do not an instant championship make. 2) The season is long, and the Cavs are still playing entertaining basketball for at least two quarters of most games. Also, the East is as dismal as it's ever been, so the playoffs aren't unreachable. Some winnable matchups — vs. NYC (Dec. 10), Philadelphia (Jan. 7) and Milwaukee (Jan. 24) — along with some entertaining matchups — vs. LAC (Dec. 7), Golden St. (Dec. 29), and Indiana (Jan. 5) — are all worth a trip to the Q. Lake Erie Monsters

Lake Erie Monsters Hockey

High school hockey is great, but only Lake Erie Monsters hockey has dollar dogs every Friday night, all season long. Sugardale hot dogs and pop are $1. That's a deal that simply can't be beat. Additionally, the Monsters are rolling out a few new attire-oriented special promotions this year, including an Ugly Holiday Sweater night (Dec. 21), Neon Night (Feb. 21) and the returning "Pink the Rink" promotion (Mar. 21) in honor of breast cancer awareness. Monsters' games are cheaper and less crowded than the Cleveland Cavaliers, and still provide wintry athletic entertainment for families and friends of all ages.  

Cleveland State University Basketball

If you love basketball, but the Cavs' dispiriting performance (or the NBA generally) leaves you cold and emotionally depleted, the Cleveland State Vikings have energized the Wolstein Center with the incredible play of sophomore sharpshooter Bryn Forbes. His college game has been compared to the great Stephen Curry and NBA rookie C.J. McCollum, formerly of Lehigh. Forbes is scoring a blistering 20 points per game for the Vikes and soon could be a legitimate NBA prospect, following in the footsteps of alums Cedric Jackson and current Miami Heat point guard Norris Cole. Check out a home game for modest ticket prices against local rivals Akron (Dec. 7), division rivals Detroit (Jan. 8), Wright State (Jan. 19) and current Horizon League leader Youngstown St. (Feb. 25).

Cleveland State Fencing

Nothing like a good old-fashioned sword fight in the middle of January to spice up your winter sports viewing. The fencing schedule is organized around “Dual Meets,” invitationals with visiting colleges and lots of fancy footwork and cushioned onesies all day long. The date to throw on your calendar is January 18: That’s the home meet in Cleveland featuring your men’s and women’s Vikings, and the foil-bearing squads from Drew University, VASSAR College, Wayne State, University of Michigan and Case Western Reserve. Bring the popcorn and the monocles, sports fans.

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