By Jim den Hollander
The Dells Ducks wrapped up a high intensity tryout/conditioning session at the Crystal Ice House in Crystal Lake, Ill. This past weekend, taking the first steps toward erasing a nightmarish 2020-21 campaign from its memory.
A combination of factors saw the Ducks getting roughed up more nights than not. The Ducks were a young squad under original and then new Head Coach/GM Shaun Falzone playing a league that managed to benefit from COVID 19 restrictions across North America with a number of Tier 2 and Tier 1 players primarily from Canada deciding pay-to-play was better than not playing at all.
As a result, the Ducks came up short most nights, collecting just three wins in 43 contests. Obviously the bar is set higher this season and the Ducks are looking for some solid results out of the gate.
The Crystal Lake sessions involved four different practices followed by scrimmages, beginning with a 90-minute practice and 90-minute scrimmage on Friday night, then four one-hour affairs (two practice, two scrimmage) on Saturday and two more on Sunday.
Head Coach Shaun Falzone was on the ice and joined for some by Anthony Rohde who is taking a sabbatical from the team duties this season, but available for some workouts, especially these ones, close to his Illinois home.
Also in Crystal Lake was the team’s new Assistant Coach, Mario Lachica along with the team mental coach Matt Houk along with a combination of returning players, signed newcomers and a few hoping to tryout or check out the club while getting an intense workout.
After arriving in Sauk County on Aug. 21, the Ducks will spend a week of dry-land training which includes the installation of ice at the Lake Delton Ice Arena. The following week the team will be on the ice, giving them a couple weeks to tune up before a trio of exhibition games against the Detroit Fighting Irish and Motor City Hockey Club in Detroit Sept. 10-12.
The Ducks will open the regular season the following weekend with the first two of eight straight home games to open the USPHL Premier Midwest-West regular season, against the Rum River Mallards, from Isanti, Minn.