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.