By Jim den Hollander
Jimmy D’s Notes
Believe it or not, the Dells Ducks will pass the halfway mark on its USPHL Premier Midwest-West Division regular season this weekend.
Part of the reason for that is a busy stretch that has seen the team playing either 3 or 4 games in each of the past four weekends heading into a well-deserved Thanksgiving break, its first since Labor Day Weekend.
Looking at mid-term grades for the team is tricky. Overall, it appears the first semester was just too tough for a team that found it hard to carry what it picked up in class into the weekly tests.
The team enters the Detroit Showcase starting Friday with an overall record of 3-13-2-1. Not exactly championship material, but the team has also posted a mark of 3-3-1-1 in its past eight games.
If the team can carry on with that momentum through this weekend and beyond, the future could be bright indeed.
The team is just different this season. Long periods spent inside of its own blue line resulted in goaltenders facing 50-plus shots on goal routinely last season. The Ducks have managed to skate with their opponents and have held the edge in shots almost as often as it hasn’t this season.
As a result, goals against have dropped drastically. The 99 goals against is still the most in the Midwest-West Division but last season the Ducks allowed 333 goals against which was an improvement on the 356 allowed the previous season. The Ducks are on a pace to allow just over 200 this season but taking into consideration the defense and standout goaltending of late means the second half of the season could see goal allowed dropping further.
Meanwhile goals for has sputtered a bit, in the early games this season, but once again, comparing it to previous seasons tells a slightly different story.
The Ducks have scored 46 goals through their first 19 games which is an average of about 2.5 per game. The Ducks have been shutout three times and have allowed two or less in 10 of 19 games. The team has also scored five goals three times and with the drastic reduction of goals against in recent games, two has been enough to win on a couple of occasions.
Last season the Ducks scored a total of 94 goals and the previous season they potted just 65. The team is on pace to surpass both totals this year.
With the usual handicapping at the Showcase tournaments, the Ducks heads into this weekend facing four winnable contests. In a way, it could be a negative that the team is heading into a break, but the team has left the launchpad and this weekend could be the beginning of a climb from the bottom to midpack in the Midwest-West Division.
Who knows where things could go from there.
Despite overall results that would indicate a failing grade, I am giving the team a ‘C’ at the midterm and hoping that grade will improve with an awesome run down the backstretch and into the final turn.