Here we go — Ducks faceoff 2022-23 season tonight

By Jim den Hollander  


The Dells Ducks are scheduled to open the 2022-23 USPHL Premier Midwest-West Division tonight with its first of eight straight home games.


The Ducks will entertain geographical rival, the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, a team that has taught the locals some tough lessons over the years, but also at times brings out the best in the Ducks. 

The Riverkings will have a new look this season, most notably behind the bench as Marty Quarters is no longer at the helm as the Head Coach/GM. There are also no returners this season, so make sure to grab a roster when you head into the Lake Delton Ice Arena tonight. 

The Ducks will also play at home on Sunday against the Minnesota Moose at 3:30 p.m. Tonight’s game will be the season opener for both teams but the Moose have a game under their belts, dropping a tough one last weekend on the road against the Minnesota Squatch, the Division’s newest team out of Elk River, Minnesota. 

Last season the Ducks opened the regular season with a stunning overtime win against the Chicago Cougars, then won just three more regular season games, all against teams from other divisions. Matching the start from last season could be tough – the Ducks have won just two of its past 18 against the Riverkings who have won the last 10 straight. The last Ducks win against the Riverkings came on Jan. 12, 2020. 

Despite the long odds, the Ducks head into the 2022-23 campaign with a solid and full roster and a new man at the helm as well. Both Anthony Rohde for the Ducks and Paul Pechmann of the Riverkings will be making their regular season debuts behind their respective benches. 

The Moose may have been even more dominant in past games against the Ducks, collecting 18 straight wins since 2018. 

Ducks will be looking to change modern history at the Lake Delton Ice Arena and both games should be a fun watch. 

Game time tonight (Friday, Sept. 30) is 7:30 p.m. and Sunday’s puck drop is at 3:30 p.m. 

Preseason tests for Ducks this weekend at home

By Jim den Hollander
Having arrived in town at the end of the Labor Day weekend, the Dells Ducks will enter a final tune-up on home ice at the Lake Delton Ice Arena this weekend giving locals a chance to get a preview on what should be a turnaround season.
With 30 players on the roster, including former RWD goaltender Cooper Oakes, the Ducks headed to Oshkosh to take on the UW-Oshkosh ACHA squad Friday (Sept. 16) and Saturday with some interesting results.

While the Titans captured 4-1 and 7-1 wins in the game, the Ducks held a wide margin in shots, reportedly topping 50 in both games. It has been a while since a Ducks’ team racked up a total like that.
Rookie Nolan Winkler (’05/Plano, IL) scored for the Ducks in the first game and the second game goal was scored by Associate Captain Adam Brown (’02/Westmont, IL), a forward/defenseman back for a third season with the Ducks with a season in Hershey, PA in between.
Head Coach Anthony Rohde was mostly happy, in particular with several younger players battling nerves in the second game.
“We dressed a lot of rookies in the second game,” said Rohde in a telephone interview. “It took two periods for the team to really start playing.”
Poor ice conditions and a good defensive gameplan for the Titans played a part as well said the coach.
This weekend the locals will play host to a Showcase type tournament with split squads from both the Ducks and the Chicago Cougars a well as a team made up of Wisconsin Riverkings players and college club teams from UW-La Crosse and Aurora University.
The Ducks will kick off the event Friday (Sept. 23) with back-to-back games against the Cougars at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.
In all, both Ducks teams (Ducks White and Ducks Purple) will play four times, the finale on Sunday at 6:30 p.m. matching the teams in a Purple vs. White head-to-head match.
In all there will be a dozen games played at the Lake Delton Ice Arena. Admission is free but the team will have a place for donations to help Jacob Cartland, a forward with the Ducks last season and a standout at the varsity level with the Kettle Moraine/Mukwonago/Oconomowoc club before that.
Cartland is battling hard to recover from some horrific injuries after a car crash earlier this month.
Follow the link below for a full season schedule for the Dells Ducks including all 12 games for this weekend.
— Oakes is one of five goaltenders currently battling for ice time with the Ducks. The team invited members of the RWD varsity team to join them this weekend and it appears junior forward Brady Baldwin will take them up on the offer.

— Ducks will open the USPHL Premier Midwest-West regular season a week from Friday at the Lake Delton Ice Arena against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings.

— A third member of last season’s RWD club will also be playing in the tournament. Rookie forward Trevor Slaght has been in Chicago since Labor Day weekend with the Cougars and last weekend made a successful junior debut with a goal on the team’s opening weekend at the Fifth Third Arena in Chicago on a two-game weekend against the visiting Motor City Gamblers.

Rohde leads Ducks into 22-23 USPHL campaign

By Jim den Hollander
The Dells Ducks are back in town and early indications show a team ready to return to the upper echelons of the USPHL Premier Midwest-West Division.

After five seasons with mostly young and inexperienced players trying to learn on the fly, the Ducks have a full roster of nearly 30 players — some returners, some with previous junior or college experience and some high-quality prospects making the jump from successful high school careers.
The team has returned to its roots in recent seasons with the return of Shaun Falzone, the team’s original (2011-12) Head Coach who is now the new team owner. This season Falzone has kicked himself upstairs to the office allowing him to look after the business side of things while one of his former players steps in as Head Coach.

Team owner Shaun Falzone, flanked by Lake Delton Ice Arena owner Aaron Kirby and new Ducks Head Coach Anthony Rohde, welcomes players to the Dells area on the opening day of training camp for the Ducks at Bobber’s Sept. 6

Anthony Rohde was a player on that original squad and in two seasons since returning as an Assistant Coach and advisor he has become a popular local figure as his tireless efforts have seen him help not only the Ducks, but many of the local varsity and youth teams as well. This is much is certain to anyone who has watched Rohde in the past few seasons, he will be tireless and relentless in carving out a winning team in the Dells.
The loosely tied, heck, practically untied skates are generally on his feet from sunup to sundown and when he is not on the ice, he is standing in the lobby, cup of coffee in hand, talking hockey with anyone who wants to strike up a conversation.
Rohde’s hockey connections in Illinois and Wisconsin have helped him put together a lineup that will compete hard on weekends after being forced to compete equally as hard through the week just to earn a spot on that roster.
Back for a second season with Rohde is Mario Lachica, cut from the same mold as Rohde. They played college hockey together in Aurora and are more than familiar with each other’s styles having spent much of the last decade working together with different teams. Another former college teammate and former Ducks player, Kevin Salinas, the team’s second captain (2012-13) will also be on the bench this season.
This trio may appear mostly soft spoken in public, but make no mistake, they are here to construct a winning team and with the number of players currently signed, they have options if they don’t like what they see.
The Ducks enjoyed one day of relaxation, the day after Labor Day when they arrived in town. Since then, they have been working hard, first off the ice, and as of Monday (Sept. 12) on the ice as well.
The first pre-season test for the Ducks will take place this weekend when they head to Oshkosh to play games Saturday and Sunday against the UW-Oshkosh Titans ACHA squad. The first game will be at 7 p.m. Saturday with a second game at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The following weekend, the team will host a pre-season tournament at the Lake Delton Ice Arena with both junior and college teams taking part. The Chicago Cougars from the Midwest-East Division along with Midwest-West rival Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings will take part along with ACHA college squads from Aurora University in Illinois and UW La Crosse.
Both the Ducks and Cougars will split their team into two squads for the tournament so there will be plenty of chance to see the team in action.
The Ducks will also open its regular season and as has been custom in recent seasons, there will be a healthy helping of home games out of the gate.
Beginning September 30 against the Rivkerkings, the Ducks will open the USPHL Midwest-West schedule with seven straight home games in 16 days.
Among the differences this season, the team will not make a trip East for a Showcase in New England, instead playing three Showcase tournaments all in the Midwest.
The first will be Oct. 27-30 at Fogerty Arena in Blaine, MN and new this season will be trip to the Motor City for another four games Nov. 18-20.
The final Showcase will be the Chicago event, once again sending the Ducks into the Christmas Break, Dec. 16-19.
The Ducks have traditionally returned from the Christmas Break and headed straight to the Boston area for its third tournament, but with that out of the way, the team will be able to focus on the regular season homestretch with its final 13 games, all against Midwest-West rivals.
Watch this space in the days ahead, including the announcement of team captains and possibly some other big news for the local fans.

Dells Ducks team owner Shaun Falzone welcomes players, parents and billets to the Dells area on the first day of camp with a dinner at Bobber’s
First Shoe Check of the season.

Slaght signs with Cougars for 22-23 USPHL season

By Jim den Hollander 


Trevor Slaght has worn a lot of hockey jerseys over the years and Wednesday night he added his latest, the Chicago Cougars. 

As a product of the Wisconsin Dells area, Slaght played with the Dells/Delton Blades, South Central Cyclones and finally RWD Cheavers through his youth and varsity high school seasons.  

Slaght signed with the Chicago Cougars Wednesday evening in front of friends, teammates and family.

The Cougars play in the USPHL Midwest-East division, made up primarily of teams in the Chicago-Detroit corridor, but also including Decatur south of Chicago. 

A four-year starter with the varsity hockey team, Slaght appeared in 79 games, scoring 27 goals and collecting 61 points.  

His career highlight came in the spring of 2021 when Slaght, as a member of the Janesville Jets U18 team played a part in a USA Hockey Tier 2 National Championship. It was a bittersweet moment for Slaght who suffered and acl injury in the national championship game which sidelined him until nearly Christmas. 

Slaght worked hard though and returned earlier than expected from the injury. He made his presence felt almost immediately with the RWD varsity team and wrapped up his senior season with 12 goals and 24 points in just 14 games. 

When Slaght returned on Dec. 21 against Tomah/Sparta, the Cheavers had stumbled to a 5-5 start to the season. After his arrival they posted a 13-1 record the rest of the way although the playoffs ended a little earlier than expected, on home ice against the rival Sauk Prairie Eagles. 

Slaght with family: Sister Morganne, father Mike and mother Kathy.

The Cougars, coached by former Dells Ducks Head Coach Josh Dallman and former Dells Ducks players, Johnny and Cory Schwarz are familiar with Slaght both as a player and as an official at most of the local versions of Ultimate Tournaments. 

The team gains a player blessed with solid speed and hands, a great hockey IQ and the ability to find open ice.  

“We are excited to add Trevor Slaght to the Cougars roster,” said Coach Dallman in a telephone text interview. “With his skill, work ethic and leadership he will be a great addition to our team.” 

Slaght is the second member of the RWD varsity team to make the jump to junior hockey as Cooper Oakes is a few weeks away from joining the Willmar Warhawks of the NA3HL as well.  

Local fans will get a chance to see Slaght and the Cougars in action as the team is scheduled to take part in a pre-season tournament, hosted by the Dells Ducks at Lake Delton Ice Arena Sept. 23-25. 

Ducks’ legend Mowery visits Dells area

By Jim den Hollander 


Sherman Mowery, one of the Dells Ducks’ all-time leaders was back in town for a visit with his billet family this week. 

Mowery, a native of Grand Rapids, MI played the 2014-15 season as well as the next two campaigns with the Ducks, totaling 60 goals and 128 points, both second most in team history. 

The 5’11” 200 lbs. Forward moved on to play hockey and attend school at Davenport University before joining the work force the following season. Most of that time has been spent in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and this past season, he once again suited up for a competitive season.  

After three years away from the game, Mowery joined his hometown Calumet Wolverines in the Great Lakes Hockey League, competitive full contact senior league. 

In 18 regular season games with the Wolverines, Mowery notched four goals and collected 16 points. He followed that up, playing a part in the Gibson Cup Championship win for the team.

Mowery said he enjoyed the return to competitive hockey and he is already looking forward to the 2022-23 GLHL season.

While in the area, Mowery visited the Barney family on Coon Bluff Road, the same family he spent parts of all three seasons with while with the Ducks. Mowery spends some time on the road in his inside sales position with Gator Bar, a fibreglass Rebar company and whenever possibly, he stops in to see is old friends.

Short staffed but game RWD squad in Onalaska

By Jim den Hollander 


Several players from the RWD varsity hockey team attended a two-day event at the Omni Center in Onalaska this past weekend and they certainly can’t complain about the ice time. 

With seven teams entered in the annual summer event, including split squads from both Black River Falls Tigers and the Avalanche (La Crosse Aquinas/Holmen) and other teams from Viroqua Blackhawks and the host Onalaska Hilltoppers along with the Cheavers. 

The schedule suited the Cheavers with three games on Friday against both Black River Falls teams along with Viroqua followed up on Saturday with back-to-back games against the Avs split squads and the finale against the Hilltoppers Saturday afternoon. 

WEHL tryouts and other commitments left the Cheavers with a small number of players Saturday, but the continued to outwork both Avalanche teams. Bolstered with a few Avs players for its final contest, the Cheavers wrapped up a 4-2 weekend with an intense high-octane match with a rivalry evident between two teams who have played some big games against each other in the past decade. 

Still months from opening the practice schedule, these summer events (including a get together in Baraboo and a weekend in Superior prior) are generally a chance for players to continue, renew or start the bonding process as they look forward to the 2022-23 WIAA season. 

There are always questions after graduations change the team every season. This season’s squad is impressive as it appears willing to work hard and play a physical and skilled game. Most impressive to this writer was the intensity level entering scrimmage matches, playing each of the 30-minute straight time sessions as if it was an important game.  

For anyone who misses the game and what it brings, the finale against Onalaska was a treat. Bolstered by some of the Avalanche players and the addition of junior Brady Baldwin just a short time after wrapping up play at the Legion baseball state championship in nearby Holmen, the Cheavers went toe to toe with the Hilltoppers in a game that entertained from the drop of the puck. 

Circle the Bobber’s 2022 Winter Classic over the Christmas Holidays on your calendars. The Cheavers and Hilltoppers are not scheduled to cross paths in the regular season but Onalaska will be in the Christmas tournament for the first time and if they meet up with RWD Dec. 28-30 it could be a game fans won’t want to miss. 

Caleb Eastman was one of the seniors taking part in the Onalaska tournament for RWD this past weekend
Coach Jeramy Greenwood chatted about the weekend between the team’s fifth and sixth games.

Crystal Lake forward latest addition to Ducks’ flock

By Jim den Hollander
After an eight-game trial with the Ducks in 2021-22, Ryan Parkin (‘03/Crystal Lake, IL) will be returning for a full season in the fall.
The 5’8” 150 lbs. Winger is proof good things can come in smaller packages. Parkin played in Showcase tournaments before and after Christmas, putting up an assist and generally making his presence felt on the right wing.

Ryan Parkin

Playing varsity hockey in Crystal Lake, Parkin chipped in another 10 goals and 22 points in 18 games. Speed and playmaking ability were the primary assets for Parkin with the Ducks and with the right linemates he could be a regular point producer this season as well.
While the coaches have been impressed with his talent, Parkin said the relationship with the coaches and players who created a family were the main draw for him committing for the upcoming season.
In a player questionnaire Parkin said his biggest hockey influence to date was his first hockey coach, Glenn Busch who is now his boss at work. The young forward also counted his parents as major influences as well.
Asked about his favorite game situation, Parkin said, “I love being on the ice and can adapt to any situation I’m put into.”
Parkin is looking to make an impression with his teammates saying his goals for the season are to improve both his hockey skills and leadership ability playing in the Dells. He expects the “speed and physicality of the game.” will be the biggest changes at the junior level, but he looks forward to the challenge.
Among his biggest highlights so far include scoring a hat trick in a championship game to lead his team to the top prize.
A visitor to the Dells as a tourist, Parkin said he is looking forward to spending the season in town and being a billet for the first time.
A fan of the Chicago BlackHawks, Parkin’s favorite player is Patrick Kane but he compares his style to Jonathan Toews, “since I’m more of a two-way player, but pro coach Kenny McCudden said I play more like Cam Atkinson.”
As far as pre-game traditions, Parkin said he likes to eat a sub sandwich, listen to music, stretch out and work on his stick handling to warm up his hands.
Parkin is looking to continue a long tradition of Illinois talent leading the way for the Dells Ducks this season.

Devil’s Lake get together kicks off 2022-23 RWD season

By Jim den Hollander  


Once again, the RWD hockey program is using some off-season bonding traditions as a way to prepare both the new players and new leaders for the task ahead. 

The team held is first unofficial function of the 2022-23 season with an early June get-together that included a tough introductory run but was generally a chance for the freshmen to meet the older players and some older players to fulfil their first duties as leaders for the team.  

The get together included a three-mile run through and around the Devils Lake area which became a little more grueling as the event fell on one of the hotter days of the summer so far. 

Seniors Caden and Carsen Brandt along with John Scott and junior Brady Baldwin will be the acting captains for the season and they made the newest team members comfortable at the get together. 

Another of the annual bonding exercises is an annual trip to Superior which will be held this coming weekend. It will include a few exhibition matches on Friday, but the rest of the weekend will be spent canoeing and enjoying each other’s company.  

The team generally plays in an annual summer event put on by the Middleton Cardinals Red Line Club but that event was cancelled this time around. Last summer the team also attended a weekend tournament in Onalaska.  

The 2022-23 WIAA hockey season will officially begin Nov. 4 with the first team practice and the first game of the season will take place at RACA Nov. 22 against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders.

Kopfstein to continue progress on Ducks’ blueline

By Jim den Hollander
While there were marked improvements over the previous season, the 2021-22 campaign was a rough one for the Dells Ducks junior hockey team.

Dells Ducks

But one of the best diamonds in the rough to emerge from the year was the play of rookie defenseman Jack Kopfstein, (‘05/Vista, CA). An online search by the young defender, looking to find a higher level of play than what was available on the left coast couldn’t have worked out better for team or player.
“Yes, I found the Ducks by searching online and looking around for junior teams to play,” said the smooth skating defender.” As a result, he attended a spring prospects camp in Lake Delton and both sides couldn’t be happier they crossed paths.
“Probably one of the best decisions I ever made,” said Kopfstein who before a season ending injury suffered just before Christmas, collected three goals and a dozen assists for 15 points, equalling a club record for points by a 16-year-old set by forward Jacob Cameron in 2017-18 despite playing just 29 games.
Despite being one of the youngest players on the team, Kopfstein seemed a perfect fit on the blue line and was perhaps the team’s most consistent and solid defenders on both ends of the rink. Kopfstein said it did not come so easy on or off the ice.
“It was definitely not as easy as it seemed,” insisted Kopfstein. I had to put in a lot of work during practice and during extra skates. The transition wasn’t too bad. The toughest thing for me was living away from home. The first month was a big change but after that it was easier.”
Kopfstein said the game is played differently in the Midwest than in California which added to the adjustment period.

“The style of play in the Midwest is much more physical and faster than California hockey,” said Kopfstein who clearly made the adjustments he needed to make.
While the injury ended his season early, Kopfstein has spent much of the summer off season in Illinois working with Rohde to continue his march up the learning curve.
“My training with Coach Rohde has been great. We’ve already made major progress from last season. I have high expectations for myself, and the bar is higher for the start of the season,” said Kopfstein.
The coach is equally as impressed with his young defenseman.
“We are excited to have him back this season and look forward to seeing his speed going up the ice on the rush,” said Rohde adding he wanted to wish Kopfstein luck as he attends the main camp for the Tier 2 North Iowa Bulls next month.
“My goals for the season are to triple my points and be more of a leader. I could quarterback the team, mainly on the power play. I think our team has a shot at having a top powerplay.
Kopfstein will get a chance to meet his new teammates this weekend when the Ducks host its tryout camp in Naperville, IL.

RWD skaters play for Jr. Ducks

By Jim den Hollander 


Ultimately, the Dells Jr. Ducks is hoped to be a spring/summer opportunity for youth hockey players of all ages, but Shaun Falzone, owner of the Ducks USPHL junior hockey team eased in with just a peewee level team this season. 

The team made its competitive debut at the Clash of Sticks event in a couple Chicago arenas, the final event in a busy 2021-22 season for Ultimate Tournaments May 27-29. 

The team, including players from Illinois, Texas along with Landen Uminski, Noah Backeberg and Evelyn Gurney from RWD, played four times, winning once and finishing fourth in its five-team pool.  

The Ducks started out on the Friday night (May 27) at Addison Ice Arena, dropping a 7-2 decision against the Chicago Eagles. 

The Eagles led 2-1 after a period and added four more in the middle period before both teams added one in the final period.  

Pictured from left: Noah Backeberg, Landen Uminski and Evelyn Gurney posed for a picture after one of their games at the Ultimate Tournaments Clash of Sticks event at Fifth Third Arena in the heart of Chicago.

The Ducks returned to play two more on Saturday, beginning with a 4-0 shutout win against Wolverines Hockey. Three of the four goals came in the middle period, including the first, scored by Owen Voller with an assist from Uminski who picked up another point with the lone goal of the third period as well.  

Later the same day, the Ducks came up short 6-2 against the Glacier Ice Dogs as a 1-1 tie after a period turned into a 4-1 deficit by the start of the third. The Ice Dogs added another before the Ducks finally scored its second in the final period. 

The Ducks wrapped up play Sunday with a tough 1-0 loss against the Vipers, the lone goal scored late in the first period. The narrow win was enough to get Vipers into the championship game where the defeated the Eagles 3-2. 

After Friday’s opener, all games were played at Fifth Third Arena in Chicago, the practice facility of the Chicago Black Hawks.