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.