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.