By Jim den Hollander
The Dells Ducks are hoping some solid play at the annual Chicago Showcase can carry over into the final 13 games of the USPHL regular season, beginning with a pair on home ice this weekend against the Minnesota Mullets.
The Mullets, coached by Chris Walby who has Sauk County hockey connections, originally from the Lodi area, but playing his youth hockey in Sauk Prairie, also turned in a nice performance in Chicago and both teams are looking to keep their progress rolling into the new year.
The Ducks currently sit eighth in the eight-team Midwest-West and currently trail seventh place Rum River Mallards by 11 points, so climbing in the standings would be a longshot, but team morale is high with the addition of several new players (see video) and this team is clearly not done fighting.
The Mullets won three of four in Chicago and that builds to 4 of five when considering the team’s 3-1 win against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings on Dec. 11. Overall, the Mullets are sixth in the division with a 12-14-1-0 record, but the recent wins have the team in a position to move higher and home ice in the first round of playoffs is not out of the question.
For the Ducks, build has been slow, but there are a number of benchmarks the team could set in the final 13 games of the season.
As a team, the Ducks have already collected four wins, one more than last season and points-wise, the nine points is also one more than last year. But the team has shown a marked improvement in almost every area.
The Ducks have scored 72 goals this season which is already seven more than last year with 13 games to play. Last season the team allowed 365 goals and the way the team is playing currently (225 GAG), they will likely finish under 300 goals against this year.
The 386 Penalty minutes is third highest in the division, but only a fraction more than half of the 768 it collected a year ago.
A year ago, Jaden Tkaczuk led the team in scoring with 19 points. This season, that would not rank him in the top four as Caden Glamkowski (27g, 19a) leads the way now with 46 points, and on a pace to perhaps break some longstanding team records.
In the Ducks’ opening season, Aidan Verbeke led the team with 37 goals and 76 points in 2011-12. Both records are still intact today, Ian Wood getting within one after a 36-goal 2013-14 season.
The 27 for Glamkowski so far leaves his 10 behind Verbeke’s mark with 13 games to play. If he doesn’t score another goal, the ‘04 from St. Charles, IL will have the sixth highest total. His next goal will move him into a tie for fourth with Sherman Mowery and Jake Stima.
Glamkowski is also in a tie for 15th with his 46 points, a total also reached by David Kaplan in 2015-16.
Tkaczuk has collected 52 points (21g, 31a) in his two seasons with the Ducks so far, ranking him in a tie with Jason Heard as the team’s 16th leading scorer all time and Glamkowski sits 22nd. Both will make their way up that list if they can continue to produce in home stretch.
Perhaps most impressive is Glamkowski’s points per game which this season is at 1.533. That ranks him fourth highest all time behind Verbeke (1.583), Nick Albergo (1.600) and Connor Rickabus (2.00). The leader came up with 12 assists in six games played, so that record might not be beatable, but Glamkowski is on an awesome pace.
If age is considered, Glamkowski’s goals and points totals are the best by a 17-year-old. He is already three points past Billy Warren who collected 43 as a linemate to Verbeke in that first season. His 27 goals are by far the best by a 17-year-old, the next best total 19, also by Billy Warren.
Go down one year and defenseman Jack Kopfstein will wrap up his season tied for the best season as a 16-year-old. The Vista, CA defenseman has put up three goals and a dozen assists for 15 points. That matches the five goals and 10 assists for Jacob Cameron of Oregon, WI in 2017-18. Kopfstein will unfortunately not be able to build on that as a collarbone injury suffered in Chicago has brought his season to a premature end.
There are currently three 16-year-olds playing for the Ducks, Zach Windom and Oliver Cabala joining Kopfstein while two others – Jace Weimer and Sam Bachman have suited up at different times on an interim basis.
That is five out of 15 players that have played for the Ducks as 16-year-olds over the past 11 seasons. Current Ducks Seth Stoutenburg and Thomas Howell also played as 16-year-olds with the Ducks.
All these stats show while overall, there might be some reasons to grumble as the Ducks have been in rebuild mode 2.0 and 3.0 over the past five seasons, this young team is moving in the right direction.
The future looks good in the Duck Pond.