By Jim den Hollander
Improvements and baby steps continue to show up, but 24-games into the regular season the ‘W’ is proving as elusive as ever for the Dells Ducks.
Restrictions on teams in other states – primarily Minnesota at this time had caused a much more fluid schedule which seems to change day by day.
The most recent tests included a pair of visits from the Northern Colorado Junior Eagles from the USPHL’s new Mountain Division who made the long trek to the Midwest to take on a series of teams, leading up to the Chicago Showcase Tournament Dec. 17-20.
The Eagles paid a visit to the Ducks Sunday evening and Monday afternoon, winning a pair of decisions 10-0 and 9-0. The Ducks also got an early morning visit from the Steele County Blades, falling 7-2 last Thursday and followed that up with a its third trip to Hudson in a week and an 11-2 loss against the Hudson Havoc.
Bryce Jacobsen and Jerame Kennedy notched the goals against the Blades with Kennedy and captain Luke Marks hitting the twine in Hudson.
While many have found it difficult to get home games in with all the health restrictions, the Ducks have clearly been a favorite stopping spot as their 24-games played is the second-highest total in the league, behind only the Pueblo Bulls with 27. They have played at least six more games and as many as 10 more than the other eight USPHL Midwest-West Division teams.
With their latest defeats, the Ducks blew past the 200-goals against mark while scoring just 36 so far.
Unlike previous games where the team got decent starts, but fell off in the second and third periods, the Ducks were buried in the opening 20 in both contests against the Eagles. However, the addition of players like Jacobsen (’02) and Trent Bachman (’00) from DeForest along with defenseman McCarthy Reed (’03) from Waunakee have injected some adrenaline into a suddenly, more Wisconsin-friendly lineup.
While it seemed the injury bug avoided the team early this season, the past dozen games has seen a path worn out to the infirmary. Veteran defensemen, Cody Long and Kanyn Rogers are both sidelined along with rookie forward Logan Potts and forward Reider Stelzl is among several just back from various nicks and ailments.
Jacobsen has been a great find and on a team with a pop-gun offense, he has been a regular contributor with four points (3g, 1a) through his first eight games with the team. Jayden Tkaczuk, an ’02 from Chanahon, Ill continues to lead the team with 12 points (6g, 6a) while another Illinois native, Adam Brown has eight points (3g, 5a).
Getting away from the game could be a benefit as the crazy schedule has seen games piled on. When the schedule was originally printed, the Ducks got a reprieve from a busy start of primarily home games with a light schedule through November. By the time they ripped that page off the calendar though they had played nine-games through the month and were one of few teams not to get a break at Thanksgiving.
There are two more games scheduled for the Lake Delton Ice Arena – Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings and Tuesday (Dec. 15) at 11 a.m. against the Minnesota Mullets. That will be followed up with four games at the Chicago Showcase and the team will hit the 30-game mark before finally getting its first real break of the season, for Christmas.
The Ducks currently have just six games scheduled for January, beginning Jan. 10, but who knows how much that could change in the days ahead.