By Jim den Hollander
The ninth and final period of a busy weekend was where the understaffed and not entirely well Dells Ducks team hit a wall on Sunday afternoon.
With a pair of decent, but ultimately unsuccessful efforts in the Twin Cities against the Minnesota Mullets already under its belt, the Ducks stopped at the Four Seasons Center in Owatonna on the way home Sunday afternoon to take on the host Steele County Blades.
The Ducks entered the weekend with a depleted roster with several team members either battling or just finished with a cold. Even at 2-2 early and down 4-2 with a period to go, the Ducks ultimately succumbed 8-2.
The Ducks were facing a Blades team that opened the season with five wins in its first eight games but coming off an 11-5 win on home ice against the Minnesota Blue Ox who beat them soundly for a second time already this season.
The Ducks tried to take advantage in the opening periods, staying with the Blades for the most part, but trailing 3-2 after 20 minutes. The Blades added one more in the second and the game was still up for grabs entering the final 20. But the Ducks were running on empty and got beat four more times although the shot clock showed a somewhat closer margin, 15-11 for the host Blades.
Overall, the Blades outshot the Ducks 53-28, a margin that while still wide, is staring to be narrowed at both ends. Ducks enjoyed its best weekend in terms of shots on goal so far this season.
Down 2-0 before the game’s three-minute mark, the Ducks fought back with goals from Bryce Jacobsen and Jayden Tkaczuk 18 seconds apart to even the score at the 7:16 mark. Thomas Howell and Jacob Cartland also collected points with an assist apiece.
Tanner Stendel paced the Blades’ attack firing three goals and adding three assists for his first six points of the season.
Anthony Falzone started for the Ducks, stopping 38 shots before Drew Moseley mopped up in the third with another seven stops.
It would be nice to be able to say the Ducks will get a chance to catch its breath, but instead the team is rolling through its shortest off-week of the season, heading back to Blaine, MN for a four-game weekend at the Midwest-West Showcase.
Ducks will begin play at 12:30 p.m. Thursday with a rematch against the Mullets, then gets a rematch against the Blades on Friday at 9 a.m. The Ducks will play a second game Friday at 5:40 p.m. against the Rum River Mallards, the first meeting since the opening weekend of the season with this rival. Wrapping up play on Saturday, the Ducks will face off against the Minnesota Blue Ox at 5:40 p.m.
The Ducks enter the Showcase with a 1-10-0-0 record, in eighth place in the division, three points behind the Mallards and a Hudson Havoc team that has played just four games so far.