By Jim den Hollander
The Dells Ducks finally celebrated victory in their opening game at the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) Chicago Showcase tournament.
After 26-straight defeats to open the season, the Ducks scored a season high six goals and were backed up by the same goaltender that shut them out just a week prior in a 6-2 win against the Detroit Fighting Irish at the Arctic Ice Center in Orland, Park, Ill on Thursday (Dec. 17).
Alex Smedley (‘02/Woodbury, N.J.) played the second half of a lopsided shutout defeat for the Wisconsin Rapid Riverkings at Lake Delton Ice Arena on Dec. 10. Shortly after, Head Coach Shaun Falzone who has worked tirelessly to improve and add to the Ducks roster since opening day, pulled the trigger on a trade that brought Smedley to Wisconsin Dells.
Fast forward to Dec. 18 and Smedley, who faced a dozen shots to secure the second half of his team’s shutout a week prior, kicked out all but two of 45 shots to lead his new team to the win.
Teams were even at 1-1 after a period, Jayden Tkaczuk from nearby Chanahon, Ill. Responding to the opener from the Irish late in the first period, from Liam Donovan (‘03/Commack, N.Y.) and Adam Brown (‘02/Westmost, Ill.).
DeForest’s Bryce Jacobsen gave the Ducks its first lead unassisted 4:10 into the middle period and Captain Luke Marks (‘00/Andover, Minn.) scored the team’s first game winner of the season from Jerame Kennedy (‘01/Overland, Kan.) a short time later.
The Irish pulled one back before the end of the period but third period goals from Andrew Wilkinson (‘03/Crystal Lake, Ill.), Cole Rodriguez (‘00/St. Louis, Mo.) and Aaron Sherlock (‘02/Warwick, R.I.) distanced the Ducks from its competitor despite being outshot 17-13 in the frame.
Jacobsen, Rodriguez, Liam Hogan (‘02/West Grenwich, R.I.) and Kanyn Rogers (‘00/Lumsden, Sask.) collected assists on the third period goal.
The Ducks celebrated the win, but quickly began mentally prepping for its second of four weekend games against Motor City Hockey Club the following day.
Below, the Ducks celebrate an end to the longest losing streak in team history.