By Jim den Hollander
This is the first opinion column written in a while, primarily because there always seems to be so many things that take priority over it.
But I wanted to take a minute to thank a ton of people who have helped with the start of the Dells Ducks regular season and with my website, saukhockey.info.
First the opening weekend. Where do I start, How about going back to last spring and thanking new/old Head Coach Shaun Falzone for breathing life into a proud franchise that was admittedly treading water in terms of on ice performance the previous few seasons. I certainly don’t point any fingers of blame for that…in fact, heading into our second weekend, it’s hard not to realize this team is going to take some lumps this season as well.
But Falzone is an eternal optimist and a players’ coach. To a man, the guys on this season’s team love the attitude and direction. Even guys like Cody Long and Luke Marks who will not be around to see this team’s greatest achievements, have bought in fully and are excited to start the process for the rest of their teammates.
To Anthony Rohde who I am starting to consider a genius on the ice. To date, he appears willing to throw the blades on and head out on the ice and help anybody perfect their game in any way. It certainly doesn’t take long; Rohde barely ties his skates…if at all and that makes the stuff he does on the ice even more remarkable.
To all the volunteers: Penny, Sharon, Maribel, Robin, Jen, Don, Trent, Chris, Jon, Suzy, Olivia, Ali and surely others I have unfortunately missed, for helping a busy, crazy weekend run so smooth it looked like we had done it 100 times before.
To John and Johnny who grabbed the ball for the alumni weekend and turned it into an event the former players and local fans will talk about for some time (people already talking about the ‘next one.’). As if you both didn’t have a full enough plate, I just can thank you enough for seeing this thing through.
To our alumni members, that jumped at an opportunity to come back to town, reminisce, rediscover their love of each other and do some stuff they would have gotten in trouble for when they played here. I believe John Schwarz found some deals, but the guys came on their own dime and like so many others, dropped a ton of dough in the Dells community while they were here. All we had to do was ask them to do it.
To Aaron Kirby, who, like me is recharged and excited for this Ducks season and to the players who have literally taken ownership of their ‘home’ chipping in from day one when they helped produce the ice itself. It’s not hard to tell, Kirby and players/coaches take a lot of pride in the Lake Delton Ice Arena.
Those were the first two regular season games and there’s 42 more junior games along with a host of varsity and youth hockey to come.
For my site, I am a few hours away from the first big month of saukhockey.info. Last Spring I kind of began the effort of introducing the site and in March I had 950 views, a huge core of those coming from a brief video interview with Kaylee Engel who played for the Badger Lightning and will this season play varsity hockey for the Northland College Lumberjills.
I surpassed 2600 views for my site in September and it will be my goal to surpass that total in October. I can’t thank the local hockey community enough for helping me reach those numbers. I hope this is just the start.