By Jim den Hollander
Once again, the Dells Ducks has plucked a quality player from the roster of a quality Wisconsin-based high school in the off season.
Reece Atkins, a 5’11, 175-pound right-shooting forward collected 10 goals and 31 points for the Amery Warriors in the competitive Middle Border Conference this past season.
He also played a key role for the Warriors in the post season, scoring in each of his team’s three-game run and adding an assist as well. That stands out as a high point in his career so far.
“This is the first time in program history a team (from Amery) has made it that far,” said Atkins on a team questionnaire adding his team earned the Sectional spot with a thrilling overtime win against rival New Richmond Tigers in the Regional championship match.
Atkins enjoyed a breakthrough season in Amery, more than doubling his 13-point total from his junior season.
After impressing the staff, including incoming Head Coach Anthony Rohde at a prospects/player’s camp held in Lake Delton in March, Atkins recently confirmed his intention to help the Dells Ducks as the first signee of the off season.
Coach Rohde had this to say about Reece, when asked his thoughts about his new player: “It’s not often you find someone with his size, ability to see the ice, and hands, all in one. I was very impressed to see his ability to create something in tight areas, it can be game changing.”
While Coach Rohde was impressed with what he saw from Atkins in his visit to the Lake Delton Ice Arena back in March, the coach and team owner Shaun Falzone also made an impression on the ‘03 forward as he counted them as his primary reason for selecting the Dells Ducks on the form.
Atkins is looking forward to making his presence felt as a rookie and feels his ability to set the tone in a game could be valuable. He counts among his strengths “My ability to slow down the game and pick up the pace whenever I want. My ability to find open guys, create space for myself and others and make the right play.”
Jackson Henningsgaard, another player who wrapped up a solid run as a junior player himself this past season has been an influence on Atkins who says he loves to play, especially with the game on the line.
“I enjoy playing on the powerplay. I also enjoy playing when it matters most, whether it’s overtime, when we need a goal or when we need to be defensive and prevent a goal.”
Looking ahead to a first season with the Ducks, Atkins is looking forward to helping the team on a quest to getting north of the .500 mark for the first time in five seasons and he wants to be a regular contributor on the score sheet, but he also knows the step from varsity to junior is a large one.
“For me, coming from high school, the pace and intensity of the game will be the biggest factor,” predicted the forward.
He is looking forward to the billet experience and spending a season in Wisconsin Dells, a community he has visited before. Currently located a stone’s throw from the Minnesota border, it’s no surprise the Wild his favorite hockey team, but he counts Patrick Kane, Patrice Bergeron and Connor McDavid as players he admires and tries to emulate.
A three-sport athlete, Atkins also enjoys football and baseball and he says Chicken Alfredo is a favorite pre-game and/or post-game meal.