By Jim den Hollander
A young team with few returners, the Ducks knew this season, or at least the first part, would be mostly about learning and improving.
This past weekend the team endured a painful lesson against a Minnesota Moose team no Ducks’ squad has yet been able to solve. Since joining the league in the 2017-18 season, the Ducks have defeated the Ducks 16-straight times and this past weekend they showed the local side what it takes to rule the Midwest-West Division.
A brutally lopsided edge in shots helped the Moose wrap up an 8-0 shutout win in the opening game Saturday, following it up with a 13-2 decision Sunday afternoon, the second time in three sets of games the Ducks have surrendered 21 goals.
Both games featured a stretch or moment where it seemed the game could turn but it ended up slipping further away.
On Saturday night, the Ducks were outmatched, but managed to get a chance to pull close, when Caden Glamkowski got open behind the Moose defense and was hauled down. Awarded a penatly shot with the Ducks down just 2-0 into the second period, Simon Johnson in the Moose goal came up with a huge stop.
The Moose added another goal later in the middl period and put this one away with five more in the third. Anthony Falzone, in goal for the Ducks did a standout job, kicking out 36 of 39 shots through those first two periods and the Moose took its shots total past 60 in the game, topping it by going north of 70 on Sunday.
The Moose picked up where it left off Sunday, but once again a rough stretch in the middle period almost let the Ducks get even.
Up 3-0, the Moose, who wore out a path to the penalty box in both games, found themselves down two skaters.
The Ducks not only took advantage as Jake Cartland fired his sixth of the season with help from Jayden Tkaczuk and Bryce Jacobsen to make it a 3-1 game, the Ducks took it to the Moose with its best pressure of the weekend for the next few minutes.
The Ducks pressure came to a sudden gut punch of a halt when Jared Topil carried the puck through the neutral zone and fired the fourth Moose goal. Emotional turn was hard on the Ducks who surrered another goal to Topil on the same shift and two more before the end of the second period.
The other Ducks goal came from Tkaczuk who celebrated his return from a four-game suspension with a a goal and assist. Glamkowski and Jacobsen collected set ups on the goal.
The Ducks had a day off to lick wounds and returned to the rink ready to prepare for another tough weekend against the Minnesota Blue Ox on Tuesday. The Blue Ox joined the Moose at the National championship tournament at the end of last season. After dropping some early games the Blue Ox come in hot after a sweep against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings on home ice this past weekend.