Oakes looking forward to junior year with RWD hockey squad

By Jim den Hollander



Last spring, RWD sophomore goaltender Cooper Oakes helped his high school team get to within a goal of the WIAA Sectional semi-finals.

A three-sport athlete (baseball and now soccer along with ice hockey), ‘Coop’ still finds time over the summer months to attend hockey camps or tryouts while also swinging a bat.

Of course, it was more difficult to find open ice over the crazy summer of 2020, but Oakes was invited to the main camp of the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League, the only Tier 1 league in the USA.

The all-Midwest based league has the top Under 20 players in the nation and being on the radar of that league is a plum for any hockey player. The players who make up the 16 USHL teams almost all sign on to play at Division 1 NCAA schools and an increasing number each season are selected in the NHL Entry Draft before setting foot on a campus.

The experience was a good one for the young goaltender who says he is looking forward to joining his teammates for a deeper push in the WIAA 2021 post season.

While playing as a member of the RAHS varsity soccer team, Oakes and several of his hockey teammates gather at the Lake Delton Ice Arena on Monday and Tuesday nights to sharpen their skills and shake off the summer rust under the guidance of Dells Ducks Assistant Coach Anthony Rohde.

A schedule has yet to be introduced for the 2020-21 varsity hockey season, but Head Coach Neil Mattson, unable to attend the early ‘Captains’ practices will be looking to challenge for the Badger North Conference crown, make some noise in the playoffs and the Coach will achieve a personal goal, hopefully early in the season as he needs three wins to hit the 300-win plateau.

Tough tests out of the gate for young Ducks

By Jim den Hollander



A young Dells Ducks team opened the 2020-21 USPHL Premier League regular season with a tough test this past weekend.

For many, the grade would have to be failing as the Ducks were outscored 20-1 (11-0 and 9-1) in a pair of contests against the Chicago Cougars, but for a team loaded with players entering their first junior hockey game, a case could be made for a grade of D or even C.

Despite a barrage of goals that sent their goals against averages soaring, the Ducks’ goaltenders showed flashes of brilliance, in particular Anthony Falzone who came on in relief Friday night and then turned in a shutout first period Saturday despite facing in excess of 30 shots.

As a result, a goal from Jayden Tkaczuk had the Ducks and their fans giddy with excitement as the team carried a 1-0 cushion into the second period Saturday night. Quite a change from the previous night when the team trailed 5-0 after a period.

Isaac Hyde turned in a solid effort Friday as well despite the lopsided score and Brendan Williamson took a turn in the second half Saturday night. All three faced a barrage of Cougars’ shots with the goalie removals an act of mercy in both contests.

Among the positives: The Ducks stood up to the test physically and despite the score, never appeared to lose their fight. While hemmed into their own end for minutes at a time, the players did seem to keep their composure for the most part.

It will be interesting to see how the Ducks measure up against their Cougars when they make the return visit to Leafs Center in West Dundee in January.

Next – Ducks vs. Steele County Blades

The Ducks hope to take the necessary lessons from the beatings this past weekend as they move into a Midwest-West Division match up with the Steele County Blades at the Lake Delton Ice Arena this weekend.

The Blades have yet to open their season and will pay a visit to the Minnesota Mullets at Augsburg University Ice Arena on Wednesday afternoon. Like the Ducks, the Blades will have several new players this season and they finished close in the standings last season – the Blades seventh and the Ducks eighth, so this promises to be much tighter contest.

Game time on Friday and Saturday will once again be 7 p.m. Admission remains the same as the opening weekend — $6 for Adults and $3 for Seniors, children, students and Military/Vets. Local youth hockey players are always admitted free when sporting team colors.