By Jim den Hollander
The Dells Ducks have been better every time they hit the ice this season and were finally rewarded with a win this past weekend.
The team has been closing in since the beginning and afer 14 games, including a pair of overtime losses and another heartbreaker in shootout, the defending USPHL Premier Midwest-West Division Champion Minnesota Blue Ox were the victims of the Ducks’ first win.
Blades 3 Ducks 2
The team started the weekend with another of those heartbreaking defeats as the team made a Friday night dash to Owatonna, MN to start the weekend off with its first meeting of the season against the Steele County Blades.
After deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 the Ducks took control and led 3-2 before the Blades pulled even with 90 seconds to go and snatched the win in overtime.
Jack Kopfstein, Ethan Matthews and Jacob Behnke fired the Ducks’ goals, Adam Brown and Bryce Jacobsen collecting assists on each of them.
Ducks 2 Blue Ox 1
Saturday night, the Ducks faced the Blue Ox for the first time this season and collected its first win against the defending champions since 2019.
Goaltenders ruled this contest with only one goal allowed in each period. The Blue Ox scored first, Dylan Smith firing the only shot to get by Jadon Mammen with a little under five minutes to go in the first period.
Braydan Kirchmann fired his fourth of the season 14 seconds into the middle frame and that stood up until Behnke stripped the puck off a Blue Ox defender just outside the blueline, went in alone and sank the game winner. His goal came with just 2:19 to play and a combination of solid play by Mammen and great defense, including a penalty kill late took it home for the Ducks.
Blue Ox 4 Ducks 2
On Sunday the Ducks wanted to show their win from the previous night was no fluke and what ensued was another close battle from start to finish.
The game started like the previous day, the Blue Ox opening a first period lead before the Ducks struck back early in the second with a goal from Brown.
The Blue Ox scored twice in 45 seconds to open the first two-goal lead of the game.
Ryan Hammer pulled one back for the Ducks in the final five minutes of the second period, but despite a 10-6 edge in shots the Ducks were able to notch the equalizer in the final period. To make it tougher, the Ducks were once again assessed a penalty late in the contest and the Blue Ox kept the pressure on, scoring one more to pad its margin as the buzzer sounded.
The inspired play in all three weekend contests showed the Ducks, who will not play on home ice again this calendar year, are ready to give all the other eight teams in the division a run for the money for the remainder of the regular season.
The Ducks come out of the weekend with a 1-12-2-1 regular season record and five points in the standings. Not a great start, but the team is currently just four points behind eighth place Minnesota Mullets who currently hold down the final playoff spot and five behind the Blades who they will face off against once again in Owatonna Friday night.
Following that, the Ducks will play their final two games of the season against the Outlaws, in Isanti. The Outlaws roll in as the division’s hottest team, riding a 10-game winning streak. The Ducks have dropped three decisions to the Outlaws, two by 5-3 margins and the other 6-5 in overtime. These games will be played in Isanti.
The following weekend the Ducks will make the long trip to Detroit for a four-game showcase weekend against teams from the Midwest-East and Great Lakes Divisions, carrying the players into their first break of the season as they all return home to celebrate Thanksgiving with family.