Jimmy D’s top 10 Games — #10

Ducks players celebrate the series winning overtime goal against the Illiana Blackbirds in the spring of 2016. They went on to face another stiff three game series against the Cougars on the road in the next round.

Game 10 – Ducks 3 Illiana Blackbirds 2 (ot) Feb. 29, 2016

The 2015-16 season was ultimately the most successful of the nine Ducks’ seasons so far as it is the only season of the first nine that ended with a win.
However, it almost ended before the good stuff even started.

Despite an awesome 38-8-2 record, the Ducks, finished its first season in the USPHL ranked third in its USP3HL Midwest Western Division. The 78 points put up was two fewer than the 39-7-2 Forest Lake Lakers and one less than the 37-8-1 Chicago Cougars.

The third seeded Ducks hosted the sixth seeded Illiana Blackbirds (23-22-2) at the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena and appeared ready to brush them aside with a 3-0 shutout (one of many that season for goaltender Jared Young). In the Friday night contest.

The Blackbirds refused to go quietly, pulling out a 2-1 win on Saturday night and forcing a third and deciding game in the Division quarterfinal to wrap up the weekend.

In the finale, a last-minute goal pushed the game into overtime and suddenly it was a next-goal wins situation for the Ducks and Blackbirds.

The Ducks finally secured the win on a bit of a controversial play as once chance was waved off by the official but without a whistle. As the ref was signaling ‘no goal’ one of the players (I believe David Kaplan, but I could have that wrong) lifted the loose puck over the Illiana goaltender. The official quickly changed the washout to a ‘point’ for the goal and the Ducks survived to move on and play the Chicago Cougars in another thrilling three-game series that ultimately sent them to the National Championship tournament.

The reason my own memory of this goal is so vivid is because I was stationed directly behind the net as the goal judge. It was a rare occasion for me at the switch and it is the last time I ever did it.

Next Ducks project — Reminiscing

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

All the excitement for our new season and the festive way we are kicking things off this season has me thinking about the past 10 seasons, great moments and of course some heartbreaking moments as well.

There are two things I have been kind of working on – more in my head than on paper – and I am going to share them on these pages over the next few weeks leading up to the start of our regular season.

One is my own ‘All-Ducks’ team. I have thought about this off and on over the off season and have compiled a list of names – four full lines and three goaltenders that make Jimmy D’s Decade team.

The other is my own Top 10 Ducks games from the first decade. Just to be clear – I did not pore over game sheets and stats for hours – the 10 games I came up with are just at the front of what is left of my brain at this time.

Jimmy D’s all-Decade team.

There’s mixed emotions with something like this, because you can’t have all the players your want of course. I tried to make it a true Decade team with players from the first season right up until this past season. There are no doubt players I liked that others may not have appreciated and for sure vice-versa.

For forwards and defense, I sort of ranked the top three lines, while adding a fourth unit for players that would my all-time penalty kill or defensive unit.

I did add a few honorable mentions, players that I wanted to add but ultimately didn’t get in. Ironically, on a team that boasted standout goaltending pretty much every season, the goaltending spot for me was the easiest to make a cut line. We have had stellar targets through the past decade but there are three that carried their respective teams like no other. Ducks fans may or may not agree with me on that.

Assist to Panure

Thinking about this and putting this brief intro together brings some other great memories of our original ‘Duck Caller’ Matt Panure. We often discussed and debated our own choices at certain positions and to be 100 percent honest, some of my own memories have been extended or padded, by Panure’s recollections either during or in between broadcasts.

Over the next few weeks, I will release my all-Decade team in five installments – the first four will each be a five-player unit and I will save my three goaltenders for the end.

Top 10 Ducks Games

What might surprise some in this category is not all 10 of my Top 10 games are Ducks wins. There are a few heartbreaking losses that stick out for me as well.

I can say of the 10, two are regular season games, six are MNJHL or USPHL playoff matches and two are from USA Hockey or USPHL National Championships.

I am going to count backwards on my Top 10 Ducks games, beginning with number 10 later today.