Varsity fall sports up next but plenty of hockey being played

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

Students are likely not pleased but the summer break is nearly over for athletes.

After what seemed to be the busiest summer yet for varsity hockey players, a majority of them will be heading to football fields, soccer pitches, volleyball or tennis courts, pools, golf courses or cross-country running courses for the next few months.

Football practices begin Tuesday while boys’ soccer, girl’s tennis, golf, volleyball, swimming, and cross country for both kicks off a week or two later, depending on the team.

Unofficial captains’ practices for hockey players will likely begin in early September as the ice will be in the Lake Delton Ice Arena by then and SPARC in Prairie du Sac will have floor hockey sessions.

Official first practices for the varsity hockey programs will begin on Nov. 8.

RWD Cheavers

The RWD regular season is scheduled to begin once again against the Wisconsin Rapids Red Raiders, this time around at the South Wood County Recreation Center on Nov. 23. Sauk Prairie Eagles will face Onalaska Hilltoppers in its first of two home games to kick off the season on the same night.

Sauk Prairie Eagles

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds will faceoff on home ice against the Menomonie Mustangs Dec. 1.

There hasn’t been any official information released yet, but the three Sauk County varsity teams will be in a slightly different conference. Gone are the Waunakee Warriors, Beaver Dam Golden Beavers and DeForest Norskies, replaced by the Madison Edgewood Crusaders, Oregon Panthers and Monroe Cheesemakers.

Baraboo/Portage Thunderbirds

The Badger Lightning schedule is not available as of today (July 27).

The Dells Ducks will be on the ice a little earlier, beginning with a tryout camp in Crystal Lake, Ill. Aug. 6-8.

Dells Ducks

Players will arrive in town in late August, the players will begin with a week of dryland training and then hit the ice. The team will head to Motown for a weekend of exhibition matches against the Detroit Fighting Irish and Motor City Hockey Team Sept. 10-12.

The following weekend, the Ducks will open the USPHL Premier Midwest-West regular season with games Sept. 17-18 against the Rum River Mallards from Isanti, Minn.

Jordan O’Connor
Kaylee Engel
Jack MacDonald
Julianna Teske

Locals at colleges will begin soon after.

After COVID all but wiped out seasons for a trio of locals last year, they will be looking forward to finally playing a regular NCAA Division 3 campaign this fall.

Kaylee Engel from Lavalle, captain of the 2019-20 Badger Lightning varsity team, will begin her sophomore season with the Northland College Lumberjills while, Jordan O’Connor, a 21-game winner in her senior season with the Sauk Prairie Eagles, will also be back for her second year between the pipes for the UW-River Falls Falcons while Julianna Teske, a Reedsburg resident will begin her sophomore season with the Augsburg Auggies. Regular seasons will begin in late October for all three players.

Former Baraboo/Portage captain, Jack MacDonald will begin his freshman season with the St. Michael’s College Purple Knights in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Purple Knights play out of Colchester Vermont and that season is also scheduled to begin in late-October.

Before you know it, full time hockey will be upon us again.

Ducks looking for billets for this season

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The Dells Ducks junior hockey team is once again looking for some local support heading into the new season.

Players from across the USA and Canada will once again be in the community beginning in late August in preparation for a mid-September start to the United States Premier Hockey League season.

The Ducks are coming off its most difficult season, partly due to a large core of younger players who gained valuable season and partly due to the strangest season in the 10-year history of the squad as Head Coach Shaun Falzone remained loyal to the players who signed on originally with the squad while many other teams took advantage of Canadian players from the Tier 2 and Major Junior level looking for a place to play in mid-season.

As a result, the Ducks have learned some tough lessons and Coach Falzone has added new and experienced players that will bring size, physical play, and offensive skills to this season’s team.

The players that move to the Sauk County area need to billet with local families and over the past decade, players from previous Ducks players have established family-like relationships with their billet families, many returning to the area to visit on special occasions.

The Morris Family has been involved with the program since it started and have volunteered to billet players in one or two homes almost every season. Pictured above are players from last season while below are players from previous seasons back in town to honor Kelly Morris, the team’s first fan, also last season.

The Ducks are looking for one or two more families to help this season.

The families of the players coming to the areas pay a fee to have their young hockey players move in with the locals and while they are in the area. Hockey players in general are humble and respectful and while in the community, the Ducks coaching staff ensures they are on their best behavior with curfews and random testing in place.

The Wilcox Family is another local family that has helped out the Ducks in recent years

The Ducks organization is thankful for the billets that have helped us out in the past, including at least one family that has been along for the entire 10 years and others who have become a major part of the Ducks family by allowing our players to eat and sleep in their homes.

Penny Lobenstein has become a popular ‘Mom’ to an army of Ducks players over the past few years and has also become one of the team’s biggest fans.

Anyone interested or looking for more information on helping the Ducks as a billet family for the 2021-22 season can contact jim@dellsduckshockey.com; shaun.chitexsports@gmail.com or lakedeltonice@yahoo.com.

More information on the Ducks season, which is now less than two months away, will appear on saukhockey.info soon.

Hockey close to year-round in Wisconsin

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

It’s a weird summer with the NHL hockey season wrapping up just a week ago but unbelievably, we’re just over a month away from the early days of a new hockey season. Hopefully, a normal one.

The Dells Ducks players will return to the Sauk County area in mid-August and by the end of the month the ice will be in at the Lake Delton Ice Arena.

A couple hockey teams have already been on the ice this summer – Sauk Prairie Eagles and RWD Cheavers both taking part in an eight-team mid-summer event in Middleton in June and the Cheavers also held the annual getaway to the Superior area where they played some scrimmage games. Both events though are geared primarily to introduce the newer players to the varsity culture.

In Superior the emphasis is on the team bonding and welcoming new players with an annual canoe trip among the highlights of the weekend.

The RWD team will also be taking part in a tournament in Onalaska July 23-25 and this writer is discovering that is not as unusual as first thought. A couple teams, including Beaver Dam and some Madison area teams scrimmage in a summer league and a quick look at the ice schedule for the Beaver Dam Family Ice Center shows a calendar as jammed in July as it would be in January.

Several youth players and varsity players took part on summer teams out of Tomah or the Madison area and competed into July but many of those have hung up the skates for at least a few weeks before eagerly pulling it down again with excitement in September.

RWD senior Trevor Slaght enjoyed the biggest moment of his hockey life so far winning a USA Hockey National Championship as a member of the Before-and-After Wisconsin Junior Jets in the late Spring and the next eager bunch of skaters, from across the state, will take part in the first step towards a repeat when the Jr. Jets holds a tryout at the Ice Pond in Waunakee this weekend.

Janesville 18U Jets celebrate winning the 2021 Chipotle USA Hockey Tier II 18U 3A National Championship in the traditional way.

The Olympics officially start on Friday in Tokyo…late Thursday here, but competitions are underway as early as Tuesday night, if you like soccer or softball. I am pumped about watching as much as I can. By the time its over, hockey season will be upon us.

Advantage invites four Ducks to NCDC main camp

Jayden Tkaczuk (#86) and Adam Brown — Photo Courtesy Gary Wiles

Head Coach Shaun Falzone successfully checked another box on his list of goals since returning as Owner/GM/Coach of the Dells Ducks with four players invited to attend the main training camp for the NCDC’s Boston Advantage.

Since he stepped in as a partner for the Dells Ducks in the spring of 2020, Falzone listed several ambitions including restoring a solid relationship with the local hockey community and giving his players a legit shot at moving on to the next level of junior play.

The arrangement with the Advantage is nice as teams are in a similar position in terms of their USPHL identity. The Ads are entering just their sophomore season with teams at the NCDC, Premier and Elite levels while the Ducks are entering an 11th season, but just a second since a reboot under the guidance of Falzone.

Liam Hogan — Photo Credit Gary Wiles

“Our goal for the Ducks is to move players on,” said Falzone.

“With our relationship with Boston Advantage, we are getting the opportunity to give our Ducks, USPHL Premier players, an opportunity to prove they belong in the NCDC, tier 2 hockey.  We have helped these players improve over the season and now it is in their hands.”

Invitations have been presented to Jayden Tkaczuk (‘02/Channahon, Ill.), the team’s scorer in 2020-21 with 11 goals and 19 points; Adam Brown (‘02/Chicago, Ill.), one of the few returners this past season who showed his ability to play both defense and forward; Liam Hogan (‘02/West Greenwich, R.I.) who contributed a dozen points and goaltender Anthony Falzone (‘03/Prosper, Texas) who made 18 appearances in the blue paint for the Ducks.

“Tkaczuk, he is a player who is 5’5″ but he plays like he is 6’5″,” said Coach Falzone. “He has no fear and loves to aggravate the other team.  He has amazing hands and good speed.  He is a recent re-signing for us.”

Falzone got a chance to look at his player again in action at the Chicago Combine last month.

Anthony Falzone

“He played the last day at the combine because the yellow team was short players so (Midwest Commissioner John) Schwarz let me throw him in.  He had four goals and two assists, I believe, in two games.  Had all the scouts talking to him.”

Despite his young age, Brown stepped up as an on and off ice leader for a young Ducks team and Falzone said he deserves a shot at a higher-level team.

(Brown is a) “Very strong player for my organization, playing both defense and offense.  He played a big part in keeping our goals down and ended up being a leader on the team.  He has played juniors for three seasons, so he has experience and can play the game and he is blessed with quick hands and good speed, with a nice strong shot.”

Hogan and Falzone were both junior rookies as well. Both showed an ability to shake off the rough nights and move on, learning along the way.

“Hogan is a fast player, who is in great condition,” said Coach Falzone.  “He has good hands and is smart with the puck.  He was an Assistant Captain for us as a Rookie.  He is a pure leader and doesn’t know the word quit. I am really hoping he returns if he doesn’t make a Tier 2 team.”

A rival coach from the Midwest-West made a call to the Advantage to reccommend the young goalie. This Coach said to Coach Falzone, ‘I hope you do not mind, I had some talks with some NCDC teams on behalf of your son.  I know he is your kid and you will help him move up, but I really feel that Anthony needs to make the move to tier 2 so I figured you wouldn’t mind me talking to them about him.’

“He got thrown into the top spot last season and he was not supposed to be in that position,” said Coach Falzone  “He earned the respect from the team, and they played better in front of him.  He is an aggressive goalie. Players hate to stand in his crease. He is good at getting the respect from players and goalies from other teams.”

These four will be part of the team’s tryout June 28 at the Pilgrim Ice Arena in Hingham, Mass.  

Coach Walby’s hockey roots set firmly in Sauk County

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

Chris Walby, Head Coach of the Minnesota Mullets is originally from the Sauk Prairie/Lodi area and part of one of the original hockey families.

 

Now 46, Walby played his junior hockey with the Wisconsin Capitols in the USHL and played a few seasons of junior in British Columbia before ultimately turning his focus onto the other side of the bench.

 

He coached the Middleton Cardinals to a host of conference titles and some state championship tournament berths before stepping behind the bench of the Minnesota Iron Rangers of the Superior International Junior Hockey League, a team he coached for three seasons and ultimately purchased.

 

He purchased the Forest Lake (formerly Edina) Lakers in 2016 and renamed the team the Minnesota Mullets the following season. Along with the ownership responsibilities, Walby has been the team’s general manager and coach for the past six seasons as well.

Coach Walby has the best seat in the house, behind the bench for the Minnesota Mullets. Photo Courtesy Kels Witt

 

Walby agreed to take part in an email question-answer type interview with Saukhockey.info earlier this week.

 

Saukhockey.info: I moved here in 2000 and despite the popularity of the Badgers and such, I felt like hockey in Wisconsin was at least a generation behind the hockey states like Minnesota, just in terms of general interest at that time. What are your memories of being a youngster, involved in hockey in Wisconsin?

 

Chris Walby: I grew up on a horse farm set on 32 acres in between Sauk City and Lodi, long before Sauk City and Prairie du Sac built their rink. We were forced to play all our youth hockey in Middleton and for the Madison West Flyers. I have three brothers who also played, so my parents were busy carting us around to the rink.

 

My Gramma and Grandpa were the reason we got involved in hockey. They had Badger Hockey season tickets and took my brothers and I to our first hockey game. We got hooked quick. We loved the Badgers. When we played pick-up games on our pond or in our garage, we’d argue about who got to pretend to be Mark Johnson, John Newberry, Bruce Driver, Chris Chelios, and we always made our youngest brother play as Marc Behrend in net. I’ve got great memories from those days in the Coliseum.

 

SH: You started coaching the Cardinals a few years after I arrived here it appears. I remember varsity hockey for WDHS at that time was pretty much a club team. Middleton is a great sports town. Was the hockey program always stronger or was it tough getting players from the wrestling and/or basketball teams?

 

CW: I played for the Cardinals and graduated from Middleton High School in ‘94. I went on to play junior hockey and then settled in Milwaukee for a few years. When I moved back to Middleton, I was invited to join the staff at Middleton by the Libert brothers who were still the Co-Head Coaches. I was their first captain as they were my coaches during my senior year and their first year at the helm.

 

My Middleton high school teams were good when I played, but the program had a rough stretch for a few years just before I got there. The Liberts added me and another alumnus in Derek Ward and we quickly turned it around. 

 

We ended up going to “State” the first year myself, Derek Ward, Steve, and Tony Libert combined as a staff. We had a great run together. In nine seasons we made three state tournament appearances and won several Big 8 Titles together. 

 

I credit all three of those coaches as the biggest influences in my coaching career. My final season at Middleton finished with a 5 – 1 loss in the “State” finals against Pete Susens and tough Wausau West team. It took Pete 30 years to win that title and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t have 30 years to chase this’ and I moved on.

 

What I miss most about coaching high school hockey are the big games and big game environments. The crowds at Cardinal games were awesome. We built quite the program so the students came out in full force. 

Head Coach Chris Walby celebrates a Sectional title with the Middleton Cardinals varsity team.

The Sectional Semi Final and Final games were amazing. We played with full capacity crowds at Cap Ice, Madison Ice Arena and Verona several times. Obviously, I remember the moments during and following the big wins, but some of my fondest memories were lessons taught during tough losses. For example, we went to six overtimes in the 2006 “State” tournament and lost, but it may be one of my favorite hockey memories of all time. 

 

We had a great blend of characters on that team, and it was amazing how they gave everything they had in that game for each other. It was an amazing experience to watch. Sometimes I find myself being more of a cheerleader than a coach and that was one of those times. Time after time, each kid came back to the bench with a look in their eye that said, “I’m doing my best, Coach!” I’ll never forget that game and my time at Middleton.

 

SH: Your brother Steffon had a great playing (including 289 points in seven seasons in the AHL) and now coaching career (including an SPHL crown won in the spring of 2011 with the Mississippi Surge with regular goaltender Bill Zaniboni). Was he a big influence on you in the sport?

 

CW: Also, at the top of the list of my biggest influences as a coach and player, is my big brother Steffon.

 

As a player, I had huge skates to fill because he was awesome. Growing up, I was his biggest fan. If there was a big goal, he’d score it. I’m not kidding either. All throughout his career, when the game was on the line, nine times out of 10 my brother would get the game winner.

 

I learned a lot just by watching him both as a player and as a coach. As a coach, his demeanor is calm and collected. Regardless of the score. He’s always positive when correcting a mistake or encouraging his guys on during a game. I’m the same, but I’m a lot rowdier on the bench at times than he is.

 

He’s passed a lot of knowledge on to me about defensive zone coverage, offensive zone attacks, effective ways to improve special teams and how to run game day operations. He’s coached at basically every level now, so I’ve still got a lot more to learn from him.

 

SH: How did you first connect with the Iron Rangers? Was the move to juniors something you had been thinking about for a while? Can you talk a bit about life in the SIJHL? I have never lived in that part of Ontario but think those long bus rides in the dead of winter must be the longest and perhaps most excruciating in junior. Also, if you thought the rivalry between Middleton and Verona was strong, it must have been so fun as an American coach in Northwestern Ontario?

 

CW: During the summer of 2012, I was sitting at a Brewer game when I received a text from Sean Storie, a coaching buddy from Superior, Wisconsin. It said, “I think I just got you a Junior A coaching job if you want it.” Ever since my own junior career, I have always said that someday I’m going to run my own junior program.

 

So, I quickly replied, “Where?” Sean responded, “Iron Range.” I had no clue where that even was.

 

Walby behind the bench for the Minnesota Iron Rangers

The owner of the Iron Range Ironheads of the Superior International Junior Hockey League called me the next day and offered me the job over the phone. I told him I had no clue what the Iron Range was and had never heard of his team before. He said they were a second-year team, they weren’t going to renew the current head coach’s contract and they were looking for a new coach to take over and relocate the team 50 miles from Chisolm, Minnesota to Hoyt Lakes, Minnesota.

 

 

I told him I’d jump into my car first thing in the morning and meet him in Hoyt Lakes. It’s about a nine-hour drive from Middleton to Hoyt Lakes and I was totally blown away by how beautiful the Iron Range was in the middle of June.

 

I’ll never forget my first Impression of Hoyt Lakes. You take HWY 4 north out of Duluth for an hour and twenty minutes. All you see during that stretch of highway are beautiful lakes, tall pine tree forests and what seemed like a thousand deer.

 

There is one major road that runs through town, and it takes less than two minutes to get from one end to the other. If you were to stay on that same road, all you see for an hour is the Superior International Forest State Park before you stumble onto Silver Bay, Minnesota, and HWY 61. It’s incredible. It’s also the only way to Thunder Bay so I ended up getting familiar with the view and have a deep appreciation for the area which is also called the Sawtooth Mountain Range.

Local connection. Coach Walby coached Austin Frank, officially listed as being from DeForest and Reedsburg’s Sean Teske on the Iron Rangers. On the left is Mike Frank, father of Austin and Sebastian who attended Wisconsin Dells High School and played with the RWD Cheavers. Mike Frank is a good friend of Walby and has been a scout for the Mullets in recent seasons.

 

The first thing you see as you enter Hoyt Lakes is a welcome sign. The second thing you see is the Hoyt Lakes Ice Arena. I loved that part. It instantly made me feel like the rink was the town’s major focal point. Waiting out in front of the rink was its manager, Wayde West and hockey enthusiast, Francine Bonach. They gave me a tour of the rink, our locker room, the gymnasium and what ultimately sold me on the place, a full-size restaurant quality kitchen they used for weddings, banquets, etc. Wayde and Francine told me all of it was ours to use and for whatever I wanted to use it for. The move just felt right. I had everything I needed to build a team and to build NCAA hockey players.

 

Playing in the SIJHL was tough. It’s a Canadian league and with the exception of two years, we were the only American team in the league. The league was made up of teams in the Northwest Ontario towns of Thunder Bay, Fort Frances, Dryden, Ear Falls and then us, the upstart Minnesota Iron Rangers.

 

Hoyt Lakes is two hours from the Canadian border and once we would cross the border it felt as if it was us against them. The biggest example of this was a heartbreaking blown offsides call that led to our demise in Game 7 of the SIJHL Championship.

 

Regardless, the community and I ended up buying the team from the original owner, we built a winning franchise, filled our home arena, and brought something special to a community that needed us just as much as we needed them. It changed all our lives.

 

In the end, I brought dozens of Wisconsinites with me to the “Range” and ended up placing over 30 players into the NCAA. It was a special and unforgettable time for all of us.

 

SH: When the Ducks first joined the Minnesota League, I had never heard of Edina. Of course, now I realize Edina and Maple Grove might be two of the greatest hockey towns in the USA. The Lakers/Mullets are a team with a solid history in the Twin Cities area. Is that part of what made you interested in the team?

 

CW: I’m forever a Wisconsin guy, but I have absolutely fallen in love with the hockey culture in Minnesota and specifically in the Twin Cities. We have a unique set up here for junior hockey. We play out of Augsburg University Ice Arena and are in the heart of Minneapolis. We are less than a mile from where the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, Gophers play and several Minneapolis parks and landmarks.

 

We have a state-of-the-art gym, rink and an incredible coaching and game day staff. Logistically, we have five NCAA schools here in town and over a dozen more within three hours from here. These are the things I’ve always wanted in building a program. We have everything a player needs to develop on and off the ice and into the NCAA.

 

SH: Junior hockey teams — successful ones at least, always have a ‘family’ feel. Your bond with the players you coached is obvious and I think you might have more returners each season than most teams as a result. What do you specifically look for in players wanting to play for the Mullets?

 

CW: I look for players with high quality character. Good kids mostly from good families.

 

I think team chemistry is the most important factor in building a successful team and program. I try to fill the locker room each year with those types. It always leads to a tight locker room and players build lifelong bonds and relationships with each other. I feel that type of relationship between players make them compete so much harder and they do it for each other.

 

Those type of kids also make my job feel extra rewarding. They appreciate what we do here and what they’re given.

 

I truly care for our players and want them to reach their full potential. Nothing makes me smile more than when they have success and achieve their goals. I think they know that. The best phone call in the world is the call I get when a player has accepted an offer to play college hockey.

 

We get these players at a time where they can set the table for the rest of their lives and our guys are doing great. What we try to teach here goes beyond hockey. We want good players to turn into good husbands, fathers, and members in their communities. The longer I coach, the more I see that come to fruition.

 

SH: You, like Coach Falzone, seem to relish a chance to wear a lot of hats. You don’t appear to delegate much, preferring to look after most of the day-to-day stuff yourself. Does the paperwork and stuff that goes with being an owner/gm, take any time away from being a coach or have you found a good way to make it work?

 

CW: I’ve found a way to successfully make it work. True, I do wear a lot of hats and I’m involved in every aspect of running a junior hockey team, but I’ve also surrounded myself with several great people in part time roles that are key players in day-to-day operations.

 

I had my first full time assistant coach this past season and it was awesome. Max Seiter from Steven’s Point. He’s a former player of mine from the Range and went on to study Physical Therapy at NCAA Finlandia in the U.P.

 

Coach Max was great. Knocked it out of the park in his first year of coaching. He made the biggest impact in the gym. He knows his stuff and the guys could see it and bought in from the start.

 

Marty Sertich joined our staff this past season. Marty had an incredible career in the NHL and was a Hobey Baker winner at Colorado College. He’s from here and helps with the University St. Thomas women’s program as well.

 

Coach Walby is popular with Players and fans in the Twin Cities. Photo Courtesy Kels Witt

Coach Marty would come in one or two times a week to lead our skill practices. He’s still in incredible shape and would run the kids through edge work drills and a series of drills focused on passing, shooting, and getting “touches” in each week. The boys loved him.

 

Coach Tom Strelow is also still involved. He’s been a great mentor for our players and for me as a coach. Tom also serves as an assistant for Minnesota high school state champion Mahtomedi High School and is a billet father each year for several of our boys.

 

I’m also blessed with a great game day staff (HP, Nicki, Kels, Zoa, Kate, Roy, and Dan) that run our home games and travel with us for several road games. They’ve filled in several times when road teams were short a trainer or a broadcast guy and our equipment manager isn’t shy about sharpening an opposing team’s skate.

 

The toughest part about running a team is putting the team together. Several owner, coaches, and GM’s struggle at it. I don’t have the budget to run all over the country to scout and who wants to be away from their family that often?”

 

I’m lucky to have an amazing network of friends in hockey. I’m very thankful and grateful for them. A majority of my roster each season is built on referrals from people in hockey that I’ve met along the way and know we can provide a great place to play from some kind of an experience we’ve shared over the years.

 

I’ve always believed that if you treat someone well, they’ll always stick with you. I can say that my vets typically feel that way and if they don’t, that’s ok. Where can we move you to where you’re happy?

 

In the end, each locker room is the same each year. We’ve all had a blast and it’s a season they will never forget.

 

SH: How often do you get back to this area? Is it still special for you walking into Cap Ice or any of the other rinks in this area?

 

CW: I get back often. I had a special experience this past year during Covid and when our rinks shutdown in Minnesota. I let the boys go home for a week at Thanksgiving and when they came back, we moved operations and we all met at the Sauk Prairie Area Recreation Center (SPARC).

 

It was awesome and kind of a dream come true for me. It was a feeling of my life in hockey kind of coming full circle. I loved having the team on my real home turf. I introduced several to Culver’s, Piggly Wiggly, Devils Lake and the Dells.

 

The staff at Sauk’s arena was awesome to us and the venue worked perfect for our needs. Dave Jolicoeur has a great crew there and was great to work with. 

 

We skated out of Sauk City’s rink for two weeks. We played four games and practiced there before moving on to our Chicago Showcase just before Christmas.

 

It was a special trip. One that I will never forget. The boys thought we were going to be forced to shut down for weeks and we didn’t. We made it through. They sincerely appreciated it and we grew together as a team at such a crucial time. 

 

Jimmy D’s notes — June plans

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

June 1 is probably about as far from the hockey seaon that you can get in Sauk County.

If local arenas are being used at all it is for indoor activities, likely related to fairs and carnivals…at least in Reedsburg.

For Saukhockey.info, hockey will still be included with a couple projects and some looks back.

Over the past month and with the great assistance of statistics kept on wisconsinprephockey.net, I have begun compiling some all time statistics.

I wrapped up the first part for RWD — tracing results from every game and compiling points and penalty minutes for every player that suited up for the Cheavers, since the start of the Reedsburg-Wisconsin Dells-Mauston Co-operative effort in 2010-11.

Currently I am working on the same for Baraboo/Portage and over the month I will continue with the Sauk Prairie Eagles and Badger Lightning.

I have something similar for the Dells Ducks, but need to add the 2020-21 stats to it. I will do a brief look at the overall stats when I complete each team, but the primary purpose of this is background information which will come in handy everytime RWD, Baraboo/Portage or Sauk Prairie Eagles come up against each other.

I am going to go back and do conference histories and Playoff histories for each team over the course of the summer.

The RWD hockey team has some summertime activity planned including something next weekend which will keep them in the headlines. I am trying to find out more about the other teams as well.

Also, I want to go back and do season reviews on each team as well as the junior Ducks and also take a look a the short freshman college seasons for Jordan O’Connor, goaltender at UW-Superior Yellow Jackets and Kaylee Engel from the Northland College Lumberjills in the WIAC along with Julianna Teske of the Augsburg Auggies in the MIAC.

I have been wanting to do either a weekly video show or podcast and plan to set it up with something once a month or more frequently if I have material, in the off season months and then weekly starting in September.

Other stories will surely come up each week during the summer months. If anyone knows of something coming up related to hockey, I would be glad to include coverage of it. I can be reached a jim@dellsduckshockey.com or text 608-393-2876.

Also, still looking for someone that might be interested in helping with this website/facebook page and a possible partnership. I would really like to find someone that is adept, or at least interested in advertising and hopefully, website design.

More stories will be rolling out soon.

 

Ducks land KMMO sniper Cartland for 2021-22 season

By Jim den Hollander

Publisher/Editor

Saukhockey.info

The Dells Ducks added a top-notch Wisconsin player to its lineup as Jake Cartland (‘02/Elkhorn, Wis.) signed his contract at the Lake Delton Ice Arena Sunday (May 2).

Cartland was the leading scorer for Kettle Moraine/Mukwonago/Oconomowoc in WIAA varsity play this past season with 25 goals and 46 points in just 23 games. He helped the team reach the Sectional Championship game where its progress was impeded by the University School of Milwaukee.

The lanky winger might be one of the best forwards to sign for the Ducks in the team’s 10-season history and Coach Shaun Falzone, a family friend of the Cartlands said in a video interview he was confident Cartland will transition well to the junior game.

Falzone has been busy since the end of the season, but particularly in the past couple weeks as he scouted at the NCDC Combine held near Detroit the previous weekend and has been watching the 2021 Chipotle USA Hockey Tier II 18U Nationals in Green Bay since Thursday. He dashed to Lake Delton to show the facilities at the Lake Delton Ice Arena.

Watch for more announcements in the days and weeks to come – Cartland is the fourth new signing of the off season as Falzone plans to make some big moves in the standings in his sophomore season since taking over the Dells Ducks last spring.

After signing his contract, Cartland and Falzone took a few minutes for a video interview.

 

Sauk players busy as off season teams start up

By Jim den Hollander
Editor/Publisher
Saukhockey.info
It is surprising how long the hockey season is, even at the local level.
This has been a crazy couple years for everything and as hockey fans, we have gone from not being able to watch our heroes on television to seasons ending at crazy times. We should be halfway through the opening round of the opening round of the post season – at least in a normal year we would be. Instead, we are about a month from the start of a post season that will carry us into July.
If the 2021-22 regular season begins on a normal schedule, the teams playing in the Stanley Cup will have 5-6 weeks off before returning for training camps for what will be another long season with a break in February 2022 for the Winter Olympics which NHL players will be participating in.
Locally, the final event was Ice Wars, a unique event at Lake Delton Ice Arena that brought together players from across the Midwest as well as a solid contingent of locals.
Aaron Kirby, owner of Lake Delton Ice was the organizer of the event that saw individuals at the squirt and peewee level signing up. However, several others have continued playing, with the Blue Devils AAA squad, out of Tomah, the Wisconsin Junior Stars out of the Madison area and the Janesville Jr. Jets.
Local players also played in the peewee Kohlman Cup tournaments recently, representing WAHA Region 4.
Articles on all of these events will appear in this space over the next few week as well as updates on the Dells Ducks junior hockey team, and some looks back at the 2020-21 varsity seasons for RWD, Baraboo/Portage, Sauk Prairie Eagles and the Badger Lightning, as well as a look back on the college seasons for local players.
Also, a summer of research and compilation will see much more statistical information and points of interest for the varsity and junior teams in the season ahead.
I recently made a connection that should see my varsity stuff get a lot more views and I am excited about that.
This past season I took saukhockey.info to a new level and it became recognized across the county. I am looking forward to the off season allowing me to get set for this fall a more organized and wider blanket coverage on all hockey in Sauk.
I am also dusting off another website/facebook page I had sort of shelved to dedicate more time to Sauk Hockey so it should be a fun summer.

Tough stretch for improved Ducks

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

While the results show more losses piling up, the Dells Ducks junior hockey team certainly is making strides toward respectability in its most recent contests.

The Ducks squared off against two rivals that have dominated them this season in the past two weekends, the Chicago Cougars and Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings.

Tangling with the Riverkings is simply too difficult a task this season for the Ducks. The top team in the USPHL’s Midwest-West Division, the Riverkings saw a stretch of 16 straight games without a regulation loss snapped at the Chicago Showcase tournament just before Christmas.

The team which makes a habit of switching to a higher gear after the Christmas Break has not lost in regular since then either, its 7-0 and 9-0 wins against the Ducks on the weekend running its current string to 9-0-1. The Riverkings are not only a near lock to make it to the National Championship tournament next month, but at this point the team is among the favorites to bring home the hardware too.

Nobody will ever concede before the games are played, but this season, the Riverkings are just too tough.

The same was thought to be the case with the Chicago Cougars who defeated the Ducks by a combined score of 20-1 on the opening weekend of the season. So, when the Ducks skated into an overtime period, locked in a 2-2 draw with the Cougars on the road, Jan. 22 it was a pleasant surprise for Ducks fans and a flat-out shock for the Cougars.

Adam Brown and Liam Hogan scored the goals against the Cougars with assists for Luke Marks and Kanyn Rogers.

Consider the fact the Cougars did not have league-leading scorer Jozef Martancik or recently added OHL defender and legit NHL Draft prospect Simon Motew in their lineup when they faced the Ducks in September and – on paper – this is an improved Chicago team. But the Ducks gave them a legit battle in this game and that is a testament to both the never-say-die attitude of the team and improvements the team has made at virtually every position since dropping its first 26-games of the season.

Next up is an opponent the Ducks have also always had a tough time with.  The Moose have been among the front runners in the USPHL’s Midwest-West Division since joining the loop and have twice made quick work of the Ducks in the post season.

The Moose used a pair of wins against Hudson Havoc on the weekend to slip into second place in the Division on the weekend and they actually sit just four points behind the Riverkings with a game in hand. They carry an eight game winning streak into the weekend set in Spooner and also picked up lopsided wins against a different Ducks team earlier this season.

Mallards Win

 

The point against the Cougars pushed the Ducks out of the bottom spot in the division for the first time this season last week as they slipped by the Rum River Mallards into the eighth and final playoff position.

However, the Mallards grabbed the spot back snapping a nine-game losing streak on Friday night with a 2-1 overtime win against the seventh place Rochester Vipers. The Mallards have dropped another pair since then, but they lead the Ducks by a point. Ironically, the game winner scored against the Vipers was an overtime goal by Noe Ben-Salem a former Ducks’ player who has been with the Mallards since just before the Christmas Break.

The Ducks have two games left to play against the Mallards which could decide the final playoff spot (as well as the winners of the Inaugural ‘Ducks Cup’), but the Mallards have five extra games to play, including two more against the Vipers who could be pulled back into a three-way race for two playoff spots in the next few weeks.

What’s left for the Ducks – 9 games.

@Minnesota Moose (Spooner) – 2 (Feb. 5-6)

Vs. Rochester Vipers – 1 (Feb. 7 at Lake Delton Ice Arena)

Vs. Minnesota Blue Ox – 2 (Feb. 19-20 at Lake Delton Ice Arena)

@Minnesota Mullets – 2 (Augsburg University Ice Arena.)

@Rum River Mallards – 2 (TBA)

 

 

 

Emotional and successful night for Ducks

By Jim den Hollander

Editor/Publisher

Saukhockey.info

The Dells Ducks collected their first home win of the 2020-21 USPHL regular season Sunday, turning in its most impressive 60-minutes at the Lake Delton Ice Arena on an emotional night and in front of a large crowd.

The effort and the 3-1 win couldn’t have been better timed as the Ducks welcomed the Rum River Mallards to the Lake Delton Ice Arena with a win that moved them into a tie for the eighth and final USPHL Premier Midwest-West playoff position.

Players, team management and fans paid tribute to Kelly Morris, the team’s first fan with a brief, but touching pre-game ceremony as Morris unfortunately passed away earlier in the week. Kelly’s family and many friends were on hand for the game, just hours after his funeral.

The victory confirmed the Ducks’ play at the Chicago Showcase just before the Christmas Break was not a mirage. The team entered the tournament with a record of 0-26-0-0 but have now picked up wins in three of its past five games and have been beaten in regulation just once.

Team captain Luke Marks switched from forward to defense at the beginning of the season but a December facelift saw a short-staffed and shell shocked D-Corps revitalized and deepened to the point that Marks started Sunday night on the wing of the team’s opening line.

Marks celebrated his first night ‘up front’ snapping the game winning goal home just before the halfway mark of the opening period. The goal gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead after Jayden Tkaczuk notched the opening goal, his team-leading 10th of the season a little more than three minutes prior.

Bryce Jacobsen was the set-up man on both goals. Playing in just his 14th game of the season, Jacobsen has collected nine points and moved into a tie for fourth overall in team scoring.

Marks added another, his fourth of the season in the middle period, this time accepting help from defenseman John Urgo and Mason Friedrichs who collected his first point as a Duck.

With the win, the Ducks boosted its overall record to 3-27-1 on the season, sliding into a tie in points with the same Mallards. The Ducks however have played 11 more games than the Mallards. The team will enjoy a rare weekend off coming up, then heads back into action against the Chicago Cougars on the road.

Ducks next home game is scheduled for Feb. 7 when the Rochester Vipers pay a visit.