By Jim den Hollander
For the Dells Ducks, November was one of the team’s best months in recent history. With a mini schedule through the first half of December the team is looking to make a big move.
The Ducks were especially sharp in the early days of the month, capturing three wins and seven points through its first five games and it stayed over .500 until the last game of the month when it dipped to 4-5-1 in 10 games.
Nevertheless, the nine points collected in one month equaled last season’s points total and the team is rowing together in the right direction.
The Ducks moved out of the league basement and into the eighth position with a pair of huge games to kick off December.
The Ducks now sit at 4-16-2-1 one game past the season’s halfway mark and the team will kick off an eight-game December with the first of two at Augsburg University Ice Arena Thursday (Dec. 1) at 7:30 p.m. CST.
The Ducks made its was past the Mullets in the standings with a win a the Detroit Showcase but heading into the first of four meetings with the Mullets this season, the home team has played four fewer games. There is no doubt this is the biggest game of the season for the Ducks so far this season but it could the start of something bigger.
While the Ducks got hot in November, the Steele County Blades did the same and their solid play has boosted them into the division’s midpack and within sight of a spot in the top half.
Head Coach Anthony Rohde not only wants to see that happen, he is confident his team can make it so.
“I fully believe this team will be able to start making a run to finish in the top four in our division,” said the Coach in an email interview with his team just back from a short Thanksgiving Break, there first time away since Labor Day.
Rohde has added new players and faced a little adversity with some top players leaving in recent weeks.
“With some new faces coming in, it has changed the locker room a little bit,” said the coach. Getting used to new guys and figuring out lines (has been interesting). Today’s (Wednesday) practice showed that when tey click, they have a huge upside.”
Among the tough recent losses was the departure of Jacob Behnke who was expected to be an offensive leader and was starting to get hot before moving on to the Florida Division a few weeks ago. However, a trade with the Minnesota Moose landed the Ducks its first ever Mexican-born player and Mikel Ferran Cobo made an instant impact, scoring twice and setting up another in four games at the Detroit Showcase tournament.
“It is a huge loss losing Behnke,” said Rohde. “He is a great player and a great kid. But picking up Cobo has been huge, he brings in that attitude that we are going all the way to Nationals. As a coach you love to have him around. With the break we just came back from I think the guys are more refreshed and excited to get back into games. So hopefully tomorrow they can get their minds set on coming to Minnesota for a win.”
Like everyone in the Midwest-West, the Mullets have had the Ducks’ number in recent seasons, but Rohde has already collected more Midwest-West Division wins that any Ducks team since 2019 and he will have a plan in place when the team takes the ice against the Mullies.
“I’ve watched the Mullets play a couple games here and there. From what I’ve seen they like to play very systematic, and simple,” said Rohde “(If we) Play strong Defense and take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves (we will get good results). This game should be similar to playing Isanti in my opinion.”
After Thursday’s contest, the Ducks will be done for the weekend and begin preparing for a game back at Augsburg Dec. 8, the first game of a three-game weekend with the other two in Blaine, MN against the Minnesota Moose.
The other four games will be played at the annual Chicago Showcase tournament Dec. 15-17.