Ducks split opening pair with Mullets on home ice.

The Dells Ducks junior hockey team tried to rally back from first period deficits in both home games this weekend.
In its United States Premier Hockey League (Premier Midwest-West Division) season opener, the Ducks were successful, rallying back from an early 2-0 deficit for a thrilling 5-4 win in overtime against the visiting Minnesota Mullets. However, despite a valiant attempt the following night, the Ducks could pull just one goal back from an early 4-0 deficit, falling 4-1 to the same Mullets.
Ducks played the Mullets, including third year junior Sebastian Frank, a former student at Wisconsin Dells High School tough in all meetings last season, defeating them once, but the Mullets finished 21-points ahead of the Ducks in the final division standings – fourth overall compared to the Ducks’ eighth place overall showing.
Teams seemed even again this season although the Mullets had the edge in shots on both nights. Ducks’ goaltender Emil Norrman, 20, from Kungsbacka, Sweden was a key figure in both games for the Ducks. Despite allowing four goals in the opening game, Norrman turned aside 41 over 64 plus minutes, including some point-blank chances in the late minutes of regulation.
Norrman was back in the crease heading in after the Ducks fell behind 3-0 in the opening 13:13 of the Saturday night contest. Still cold, Norrman was beaten on the first shot he faced, but then stopped the next 30 shots he faced, giving his team a chance to battle back.

Ducks 5 Mullets 4 (to)
In the season opener, the Ducks found themselves looking up at a 2-0 Mullets’ lead with goals from Benjamin Borreson and Blake Gutterman in the opening eight minutes.
Captain Stone Stelzl, 18, from Blaine, MN, the team’s leading scorer last season, picked up where he left off with the first goal of the new campaign for the Ducks 6:12 from the end of the opening period, finishing a three-way player with another returner – Jeffrey Rebmann, 17, from Libertyville, IL and newcomer Jason Heard, 17, from Atlanta GA.
That pulled the home team to within one and two goals 28-seconds apart shot the Ducks to its first lead of the season near the halfway mark of the middle period.
Returning 17-year-old Sun Prairie native Roger Schoenike jammed the tying goal home from the top of the crease before another returner, Justin Gulas, 18, from Fitchburg, WI fired the go-ahead tally.
Rockford native, Wyatt Mikkelson, 18 and Giovani Mueller, 18, from Beaver Dam had assists on both goals.
Nate Holm pulled the Mullets even about four minutes later and teams were even at 3-3 with 20-minutes to go.
Mullets moved in front again with Gutterman’s second of the contest, but Rebmann tied it again just before the halfway mark of the period, from Gulas and Heard.
Norrman came up with some big stops for the Ducks in the final couple minutes of regulation when the Mullets threw all it had at him, but it was the Ducks taking the game to the guests through much of the 3-on-3 overtime segment.
Defenseman Alex Goder, a 19-year-old native of Milwaukee who watched much of last season from the sidelines with a nasty leg injury, stepped up as the first hero of the season when he slid home a perfect pass across the goalmouth from Stelzl 43-seconds from the end of the five-minute sudden-death period. Defenseman Beckett Patten, 18, from Bozeman, MT recorded the other assist and the final shots tally had the visitors in front 45-39.

Mullets 4 Ducks 1
Saturday night, the Ducks sent Glen Allyn, VA native Ian Donselaar to the crease and he endured a rough start, surrendering three goals in the opening 13:14 of the game and another just seconds after Norrman took over had the guests comfortably up 4-0.
The Mullets held an 18-9 edge in shots through the period and at the other end, John Bostedt denied the Ducks on all but one shot.
The lone home goal came from Brayden Cooper, 19, from Clinton, WI, a former player for Beloit High School who counted his first tally since 2015/16 just before the halfway mark of the middle period. Patten and Jacob Richardson, 18, from Addison, IL. The Ducks rallied back and stayed even with the visitors on the shot clock, but both goaltenders were unbeatable through the second half of the contest.
Next up Minnesota Moose
The Ducks will remain on home ice this weekend, entertaining the defending regular season champion Minnesota Moose in games on both Friday and Saturday.
The Moose opened with home and home games against the Hudson Havoc this past weekend, splitting the pair with a 4-1 win in the opener but a 1-0 loss to the Havoc in a pair of games played in Hudson.


Worlton’s Ducks looking for turnaround season

By Jim den Hollander

Sauk Hockey Editor

Coming of the toughest season in team history, Dells Ducks junior hockey team head coach Jeff Worlton promises to give the Sauk County area something to cheer for this time around.

Entering the season with a young club that included just one returner, Worlton warned the going could be tough, in particularly early on last season. However, a solid month of December had he team at .500 for the first and only time heading into the Christmas break.

A tough schedule after the break saw the team finish eighth overall in the United States Premier Hockey League Midwest-West division and they were eliminated in two games by the Division champion Minnesota Moose who went on to the League Championship semi-finals.

With a team made up of about half returners – including several with more than a single season of junior eligibility remaining – and half newcomers, Worlton is excited and has set the bar high for the Lake Delton junior team this season.

“Our expectations as a team are a lot higher,” said Worlton on the eve of the first day of camp, Aug. 27. “We have a good core group of returners which we didn’t have last year. So, this year our expectations are high and we’re excited. It’s a long way to go to the end of the road, but we’re excited.”

A weird schedule that will see the Ducks playing nine of 11 games before its first Showcase event in Chicago in October, on home ice. To take advantage of playing in friendly surroundings, it will be important for the Ducks to be well prepared by the time they open the season Sept. 14 against the Minnesota Mullets.

“It’s key that we have a good training camp,” said the coach. We have a two-week training camp, so it’s good we have that. We want to hit the ground running this year and get off to a good start. With our returners and what we’ve added, we feel like we’re going to be able to hit the road running and make some hay at the start of the year. We’ll see what we can do, but the first part of the year being at home, it’s really big for us to get it going.”

Coach Worlton and Associate Coach Jack Winger had a pattern of using video footage to prepare for teams last season. Of course, that option is not available for the opening series of the season against the Mullets.

“Yeah, you just try to pull up your notes from last year, but obviously they have new players from last year too, they’ve changed. So, you don’t do a lot of background work because you can’t, but I think a good part of starting out fast is having a good training camp and being in better shape than the team you’re playing against. That’s our goal, why we’re having a two-week training came, so we can be in better shape.”

The Ducks ranked eighth in the division not only in points, but goals scored, it’s 109 markers an average of just 2.48 per game. The Ducks allowed 173 which ranked it a sixth best in the division, but an average of 3.93 is not great. While it was a better number than some teams in front of it, the Ducks struggled to find consistency on the blue line and in goal last season.

Scoring more and allowing less is certainly a goal, but there is a little more to it as well, said Worlton.

“I think it’s a combination of everything you know. We need to score more goals and allow less goals. We must be better in all aspects of the game. We have to be better in all zones and everything that we do this year.”

Discipline was an issue at times – the Ducks racked up a pretty high number of penalties, but that has always been a part of the Ducks identity to play a physical style and Worlton said he is less concerned with that.

“You can’t ever really complain because we were competing,” said the coach. “Sometimes did we lose discipline? Sure, but we’re still competing, their hearts were in the right place. You take the good and the bad when you’re competing, right?”

Having a substantial number of returners gives the coach a bit of a jump this time around, especially when comparing it to last year when he began the campaign with few players with previous junior experience.

“We’re going to start with just conditioning, but we are going to work early on x’s and o’s and get into the systems. With so many returning players this year, it should just be a refresher for them,” said the coach adding there are a few changes in systems, “But overall, it should just be about refreshing. Going at it off ice first and then getting on ice and doing it.”

The Ducks did some team bonding and a lot of dryland type drills through the first week and were scheduled to hit the new ice at the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena Monday (Sept. 3) to begin working toward the start of the regular season.

After games against the Mullets, Sept. 14-15, the Ducks will return to the Poppy to face the defending champion Minnesota Moose the following weekend, then travel to play the Kasson Vipers, a new team in Minnesota, near Rochester.

The Ducks will return home for a three-game weekend Oct. 5-7 before traveling to the Chicago area for its first Showcase event of the season Oct. 11-13. After that, the Ducks will play another six straight at the Poppy in a weird season that will see them wrap all but three of its home games before the Christmas Break.

Tickets for Ducks games will go for the same cost this season — $6 for Adults an $5 for Seniors while Students and Children get in for free. There are season ticket options as well and almost every home game will have a theme this season, including its second game against the Mullets when the team will honor its billets.