By Jim den Hollander
Coming off a promising albeit unsuccessful game on home ice this past Thursday, the Dells Ducks hit the Christmas Break rolling into the Windy City, the site of last season’s highlight.
A winless Ducks team headed to Chicago for last season’s Showcase event and picked up two of its three wins on the season.
This season, the Ducks have already collected three wins and enter a four-games in three-days stretch that once again could vault them into a positive post-Christmas stretch.
Also, the team once again finds itself bolstered entering the tournament with additions on both the blue line and up front.
First, a look back at last Thursday:
Drew Moseley has turned in some solid performances for the Ducks this season, but his 63-save performance against a potent Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings team might have been his best so far, despite a 6-1 loss.
Riverkings hit the board first, but Caden Glamkowski (‘04/St. Charles, IL) fired his 18th of the season to knot it up with 6:35 to play in the opening period with help from Jayden Tkaczuk (‘02/Channahon, IL) and Thomas Howell (‘04/Gilmer, TX).
The visiting Riverkings snatched the momentum back though, firing a shorthanded goal just over two minutes later to carry a 2-1 cushion out of the opening 20. The Riverkings held a massive 20-5 edge in shots through the frame.
Riverkings turned the pressure up a notch with 26 second-period shots, but Moseley held strong until the visitors finally broke through for two in the final five minutes of the session. Another pair in the third, including one 14 seconds before the final buzzer widened the gap to 6-1.
The Riverkings lead the Midwest-West Division and are a good bet to go a long way this season and the Ducks, simply not at the same point in their progress, have played them bravely and without fear, especially in this contest.
Since that game, the Ducks have added three players including most recently Drake Johnson (‘02/Kalamazoo, MI) who completed his first semester at Aquinas College and got the itch to return to juniors to play hockey after acting as the manager of the school’s hockey club. Also, back for the tournament is Dillon Collings (‘02/Golden, CO), a regular last season who also has moved on to attend school but is making his second visit to the Ducks this season while on a break from school.
Also bolstering the defense is Oliver Cabala, the team’s third ‘05 addition, from Kezmarok, Slovakia.
Alex Grove (‘02/Waldorf, MD) has been with the team for a couple weeks as well, acquired from Hudson, but he is currently out of action due to concussion protocols. Grove will be a good addition to the team’s forward group after the Christmas break.
The Ducks will begin play at the Chicago tournament Thursday at 1:10 p.m. against the Decatur Blaze from the Midwest-East Division, then return to play twice on Friday, at 8 a.m. against the Detroit Fighting Irish, another Midwest-East team they defeated in Chicago last season, but lost to in pre-season matches in August and at 4:40 p.m. against the Columbus Mavericks, a team from the Great Lakes Division they have never played before.
On Saturday, the team will wrap up the pre-Christmas portion of its schedule with a rematch against the Wooster Oilers from the Great Lakes Division at 2:20 p.m. The Ducks met the Oilers as the Islanders HC tournament in Massachusetts 9-3 on Nov. 19.