Since April, Co-Owner and Head Coach of the Dells Ducks has been preparing and planning to lead team he fell in love with a decade ago back into battle.
The long off season was made longer by the social distancing and health issues that became ‘the norm’ in the hockey world, but now, some six months later, Falzone and his charges roll into their first game week of the season.
Since a few days after Labor Day, the players have been in town, preparing both off and on the ice and this past weekend saw the team getting a little bit of ‘real game’ action with a pre-season against an experienced and older Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings squad and a lively instrasquad match on Saturday.
Falzone is looking forward to the opening weekend, Friday, and Saturday against the Chicago Cougars from the USPHL Midwest-East Division, but he knows things are still just getting started.
“Well, we have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Falzone in a video interview. “But it was good. Playing against the Riverkings gave the guys a chance to see what it’s going to be like.
“We have 16 rookies here so, the boys came along better than I thought they would, faster than I thought they would.”
The Ducks head into its first game week Monday and while please with the improvements made quickly, Falzone also admitted, “We have to work on everything.”
The Cougars, perennial division champions from the Midwest East and, like the Riverkings, and older, mature squad this season, promises a couple of tough opening tests.
Hopefully adding momentum and incentive for the local boys will be some big pieces of the team’s short history so far as a pair of Dells Ducks alumni teams will take the ice before the games Friday and Saturday.
Five former team captains and some of the best players ever to don the angry Duck will be in town this weekend at the Lake Delton Ice Arena in a game that will included coaches from both the Ducks (Anthony Rohde) and the Cougars (Johnny Schwarz).
Admission prices are the same for adults ($6) and Students ($3). Seniors and Veterans will be pleased to see a rare price drop as the price for both has been reduced to $3 for the upcoming season.
The Janesville Jets U-18 squad dropped a pair of decisions at the NAPHL Fall Showcase at Schwan Super Rinks and the Fogerty Center in Blaine, Minnesota Saturday.
After the opening game win against Minnesota Hockey Academy Mudbugs on Friday, the Jets fell to the Northstar Knights from Northstar Christian Academy in Alexandria, Minnesota 6-0 early Saturday morning, then traveled to Fogerty Arena Saturday night to face the Fairbanks Ice Dogs U-18 team, another team sponsored by a NAHL team, falling 3-1.
In the early game, the Jets surrendered two goals in each period and were only outshot 25-10. Against the Ice Dogs, Jets scored first, carrying a 1-0 lead out of the first period. The Ice Dogs grabbed control with a pair of middle period goals and clinched the win with a little under four minutes to go.
Trevor Slaght from Wisconsin Dells will join the U-18 Jets in its final game at the Showcase event Sunday at 3:15 p.m. against the Minnesota Magicians U-18 squad.
I didn’t realize it until Colin Cross mentioned he had played with each member of my all-time Ducks Fourth line that they were all from pretty much the same ‘era’ of Ducks teams.
The next line has a little more of a cross section of players which is good because what I really wanted to do is represent all nine of the previous seasons.
Joey Bower – The Crystal Lake, Illinois native was a proud member of the Ducks, talked to by Coach Falzone when he coached the original Ducks’ team, Bower ultimately signed with Bill Zaniboni a season later. Bower is tied with Jake Stima for eighth all time in games played with 91 and in that stretch, he fired a 12th best 29 goals and 10th best 45 assists for a 13th best total of 74 points.
Bower was a key player in so many big games and he loved playing for the team so much he was a frequent visitor following his two seasons in the Dells just to see how things were going. Just an amazing heart and soul player that gave everything he had to this team.
After he finished with the Ducks, Bower went on to attend and play hockey at Illinois State University where he played another three seasons and collected another 87 points.
Stone Stelzl – Stone was an interesting player and a bright spot in couple of tough seasons for the Ducks.
The 2017-18 Ducks was a completely new squad with Head Coach Jeff Worlton taking over at the helm and bringing in an enthusiastic but young squad. It was the first time in the Ducks’ history the team endured a ‘rebuilding phase,’ something most teams go through frequently.
But Stelzl, a role player when he played high school hockey in Blaine, Minnesota made his presence felt on the Ducks and despite playing his first season of junior, he was a team leader and wore the captain’s ‘C’ in both of his seasons with the Black and Silver
Before moving on to play Tier 2 hockey in Northwestern Ontario this past season, Stelzl checked in with 45 goals (sixth best total on the team); 38 assists (15th best) for 83 points (9th best). Certainly, unintimidated as a younger player, Stelzl also wracked up 179 minutes in penalties, fifth highest total in team history as well.
Stelzl has moved on to College this season at Castleton University in Vermont, playing in the NEHC.
Sherman Mowery – As I have been putting these lists together and looking for pictures, it is amazing how often I see a team goal celebration picture with Mowery right at the center of it.
Mowery scored a lot of goals – 60 to be exact, second highest total in team history. He contributed another 68 assists, third best total in team history for a total of 128 points, also second best in 129 games, fourth best in team history.
He might have been the team leader in big goals though. I recall an overtime game winner, I believe against Wooster to clinch a series win, but there were several others. Again, the pictures tell the tale.
Lucas Smith – Lucas a good young defenseman on a really strong team in his first season with the Ducks and as a result, the young Calgary native found himself on the sidelines in some big games.
But he clearly took good notes on the steep learning curve and when he returned for the 2015-16 season, he was given a letter to wear on his chest, a role he took seriously. Smith with a smooth skating defenseman who didn’t show up on the game sheet as often as some might have expected, but he made his presence felt in his own end and logged a lot of ice time on penalty kill and with the game on the line.
Smith played 71 games in a Ducks’ uniform and went on to play Division 2 NCAA at Post University, wearing the ‘C’ in his final two seasons. His selection here is timely as Smith just announced in the past day or so he will be making his professional debut with EHC Basel of the Swiss SRL.
Johan Kling– One of the few one-season team members on the list, Kling made his presence felt in a big way during the 2015-16 Ducks’ season. He contributed. Like Smith, he was more about moving the puck and dominating in his own end, but Kling did notch seven goals and set up another 15 in that season.
Its surprising Kling didn’t pick up more points as he was a key player on the powerplay, generally acting as a quarterback on the blue line and he had an accurate shot from a distance.
One of the best memories of Kling is as the flashiest suit wearer on the team bus, although there was certainly some competition over the years.
Kling played most of his junior years at home in Sweden but played a season of junior in Canada prior to coming to the Dells and he followed that up with four seasons at Bethel College in the MIAC Conference. He recently signed on with Raahe-Kiekko of the Finnish Suomi-sarja. Yet another Ducks player moving on to play professional hockey.