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.
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Dells Ducks are looking to improve on a tough year and instill a renewed winning culture in the tourist town, but there is one throwback they cannot do without.
Two seasons ago, Jacobsen, then a captain with the DeForest Norskies, turned lemons into lemonade, joining the Dells Ducks. It could not have been a better arrangement between the player and team.
Jacobsen will be the second player in team history (joining Chris Vella before him) to return for a second season as team captain. Despite a pair of rough seasons, Jacobsen’s presence has been an overwhelming positive for the team.
Head Coach Anthony Rohde made the easiest decision of the off season, bringing back Jacobsen as the team captain.
“The work ethic and drive to win is why Bryce has the ‘C’ again, said Rohde in an email interview. “It’s the attitude I want all the players to have.”
Locals were somewhat familiar with Jacobsen before he joined the team in the middle of the 2020-21 campaign as he played for the rival DeForest Norskies in the rival Badger North varsity league that all three Sauk County teams played in at the time.
With the pandemic destroying his final varsity season (Norskies were one of a few teams that decided not to play during that season), Jacobsen shifted his gaze to one of his semi-local junior teams.
“After my first skate, when Coach Falzone asked how I liked it. I told him I loved it,” said Jacobsen in an email interview. “Then, he asked if I wanted to play in the games that weekend. After that, I was all in. I loved how fast the practice was and how we did a lot of skill work.”
Jacobsen played in just 23 games that season but wrapped it up among the team’s leading scorers. The attributes listed above prompted Coach Falzone to select him among several returners to take the responsibility of being captain.
“When Coach Falzone named me captain I was a little surprised,” said the 6’3” 190-pound center. “I was very happy to be named captain. I was one of the captains in high school.”
Jacobsen and the Ducks endured another tough season but through it all, he continued to lead by example with his dedication, hard work and leadership by example. Jacobsen was on the ice in every situation, contributing 12 goals and 31 points. He and his teammates believed they could win no matter who the opponent was.
“Every week we would prepare for our opponents, and we would always have a positive mindset,” said Jacobsen. “At some points of the season, it was hard, but with the leadership of our veterans, we were able to keep a positive mindset.”
The captain said the frustrations of last season have inspired him and the other returners to make things different this time around.
“The other returners and I have had a long offseason just thinking about how we can’t wait to get back to the Dells to start the 22-23 season. We all feel like we have something to prove. Coach Rohde is bringing in a bunch of great guys that are skilled and ready to put in the work to make it a great winning season.”
Leadership and attitude are Jacobsen’s contributions. On the ice, he plays every shift with ferocity and while he may not win as many style points as some other players, his bull in a China shop approach in front of the net has been a factor in him getting pucks over the goal line.
Perhaps his most notable asset is his contribution in the faceoff circle. Actual statistics were not available but anyone paying attention is aware he wins far more than he loses at the dot. Reflexes and natural ability play a part, but Jacobsen works hard on faceoffs as well.
“Coach Rhode and I spend a lot of time working on faceoffs and how to consistently win them,” said Jacobsen. “We would even watch film on just faceoffs.”
Jacobsen will enter his final season with 17 goals and 40 points to his credit in 66 career games. He seldom missed a game over the previous two seasons and if he is able to continue that trend, he will be wind up in an elite group that includes just five players currently, with 100 or more games played as a Duck.
Rohde and Jacobsen will officially begin the reboot when the team reconvenes in September, but the future skate held at the end of last season and tryouts coming up in the Chicago area in June will give them a chance to get things started. For Jacobsen, an ‘02, this will be one final kick at it and over the course of the season he will also finalize the next chapter of both his education and hockey career.
“There were a few colleges that talked to me in the showcases,” said the captain adding, “When making a decision on where I will go to college, I want to go to a school that has a strong business program, and a good hockey program.”
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info Former Dells Ducks goaltender Sandro Aeschlimann has once again put on the jersey of his home country and led the Swiss National team to its third straight win at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships in Finland.
Aeschlimann, 27, is one of three goaltenders for the Swiss National team and each have made the most of an opportunity to patrol the crease for Switzerland so far. Aeschlimann, a native of Zazlwil, Switzerland played for the Ducks in 2014-15, appearing in the most memorable home game to date, a 1-0 win to clinch the Bush Cup Championship (MNJHL). He appeared in 32 regular season games and seven more in the post season, posting a sub 2.00 goals against average and a Save Percentage of .935 in the regular season and .958 in the playoffs. After the Ducks, Aeschlimann played a season of NCAA Division 3 hockey at Elimira College in New York before returning home to Switzerland where he has played professionally for the past six seasons, five with HC Davos in the top Switzerland Pro League. On Tuesday, Aeschlimann made his first appearance at the Worlds, providing the team with two periods of shutout hockey to help them build a 2-0 lead against Kazakhstan. The Kazaks struck for a pair in the third, including one to get within a goal with just over two minutes to play, but Aeschlimann shut the door from there, boosting the team to its third straight win a the tournament behind played in both Tampere and Helsinki, Finland. The team was back on the ice Wednesday and boosted its record to 4-0 with a 5-2 win against Slovakia.
The 16 nations playing at the Worlds are divided into two eight-team pools. The Swiss currently lead Pool A with its 4-0-0 record while Canada is right behind at 3-0-0. Both have all but guaranteed in the tournament’s Quarter-Finals next week. Reto Berra, a veteran goaltender from Bulach, Switzerland with several seasons of both Swiss Pro and AHL experience, played in both the first game against Italy and fourth game, against Slovakia for Switzerland and Leonardo Genoni, another vet, from Semlone, Switzerland appeared in game two, a 6-0 shutout against Denmark. The Swiss has three round-robin matches remaining, taking on Canada Saturday, France on Sunday and arch rival Germany on May 24. If Switzerland sticks with his current goaltending rotation, Aeschlimann will likely hit the blue paint against France. While the Swiss team has some vets in goal, Nico Hischier from the New Jersey Devils, the country’s only ever first overall NHL draft pick is on the roster along with Pius Suter of the Detroit Red Wings, Timo Meier of the San Jose Sharks and Jonas Sigenthaler, also from the Devils.
By Jim den Hollander Editor/Publisher Saukhockey.info Once again, the Dells Ducks has plucked a quality player from the roster of a quality Wisconsin-based high school in the off season. Reece Atkins, a 5’11, 175-pound right-shooting forward collected 10 goals and 31 points for the Amery Warriors in the competitive Middle Border Conference this past season.
He also played a key role for the Warriors in the post season, scoring in each of his team’s three-game run and adding an assist as well. That stands out as a high point in his career so far. “This is the first time in program history a team (from Amery) has made it that far,” said Atkins on a team questionnaire adding his team earned the Sectional spot with a thrilling overtime win against rival New Richmond Tigers in the Regional championship match. Atkins enjoyed a breakthrough season in Amery, more than doubling his 13-point total from his junior season. After impressing the staff, including incoming Head Coach Anthony Rohde at a prospects/player’s camp held in Lake Delton in March, Atkins recently confirmed his intention to help the Dells Ducks as the first signee of the off season. Coach Rohde had this to say about Reece, when asked his thoughts about his new player: “It’s not often you find someone with his size, ability to see the ice, and hands, all in one. I was very impressed to see his ability to create something in tight areas, it can be game changing.” While Coach Rohde was impressed with what he saw from Atkins in his visit to the Lake Delton Ice Arena back in March, the coach and team owner Shaun Falzone also made an impression on the ‘03 forward as he counted them as his primary reason for selecting the Dells Ducks on the form. Atkins is looking forward to making his presence felt as a rookie and feels his ability to set the tone in a game could be valuable. He counts among his strengths “My ability to slow down the game and pick up the pace whenever I want. My ability to find open guys, create space for myself and others and make the right play.” Jackson Henningsgaard, another player who wrapped up a solid run as a junior player himself this past season has been an influence on Atkins who says he loves to play, especially with the game on the line. “I enjoy playing on the powerplay. I also enjoy playing when it matters most, whether it’s overtime, when we need a goal or when we need to be defensive and prevent a goal.” Looking ahead to a first season with the Ducks, Atkins is looking forward to helping the team on a quest to getting north of the .500 mark for the first time in five seasons and he wants to be a regular contributor on the score sheet, but he also knows the step from varsity to junior is a large one. “For me, coming from high school, the pace and intensity of the game will be the biggest factor,” predicted the forward. He is looking forward to the billet experience and spending a season in Wisconsin Dells, a community he has visited before. Currently located a stone’s throw from the Minnesota border, it’s no surprise the Wild his favorite hockey team, but he counts Patrick Kane, Patrice Bergeron and Connor McDavid as players he admires and tries to emulate. A three-sport athlete, Atkins also enjoys football and baseball and he says Chicken Alfredo is a favorite pre-game and/or post-game meal.
The Dells Ducks saw its season come to an end in Coon Rapids recently as the overwhelming underdog bowing with back-to-back defeats against the Minnesota Blue Ox despite 120 of the Ducks best minutes of the season.
Its impossible to carry that momentum for five-plus months into Labor Day when the team will head into the 2022-23 season.
A small, but definite improvement over the previous season leaves room for optimism for a Ducks team that has been the youngest in the Midwest-Division if not the entire USPHL Premier League for both of the past two seasons, since Shaun Falzone stepped in as the owner/GM/Head Coach of the team.
But big changes that took effect within hours of the end of the 2021-22 season hold promise of a big improvement starting this fall.
While the changes are recent, they are far from sudden. Falzone has talked about a second phase for this team since the day he came to town and former Assistant Coach Anthony Rohde plays a big part in next generation.
Rohde was forced to step aside this season for personal reasons but his presence has been felt in at the Lake Delton Ice Arena frequently over the past season. Falzone officially passed the Head Coaching reins to his former player and good friend within days of the season’s end. The job has been Rohde’s to take for two seasons and seriously since around Christmas.
Mario Lachica will also return as the Assistant Coach and the chemistry is big and immediate between these to who have played and coached together. Like Falzone, Lachica’s style of coachng is similar to Rohde’s. One thing that any player suiting up for the Ducks can be guaranteed is icetime and individual attention. Both Rohde and Lachica are tireless and love calling the arena home during the season. The Ducks practiced twice a day through most of this past season but if there was empty ice available, Lachica was willng to work with anything any player wanted.
Rohde usually has skates on his feet for 8-10 hours or more a day when he is at the rink.
He delayed accepting the position until just recently, but he comes in with a solid gameplan and a list of possibly players he has already been in contact with. Don’t take that to mean the team is set though. As any good coach would, Rohde is searching high and low over the off season for prospects that will make the team better.
While home in the Chicagoland area, Rohde coached a bantam level team over the season and he has taken advantage of league play to look for talent. He was also on hand at the Monk’s Cheeseburger Classic. Rohde and Lachica both checked out the WIAA Seniors Tournament this past weekend and their calendars are filling up for what promises to be a busy summer, spent mostly sipping coffee and taking notes in ice rinks across North America.
Falzone will be no less busy but steps a bit into the background as team owner, looking after paperwork, sponsor hunting and promoting the team.
Ducks fans have remained mostly loyal through the past five tough seasons for the Ducks which has seen mostly 16-17 year old players.
During that tenure, the Ducks have developed many players for upper echelon Tier 3 and some Tier 2 teams and many have gone on to play at Division 3 or ACHA Club hockey teams at th college level. That will continue but watch for the Ducks to begin its move north n league standings as well.
Fans will enjoy the rise and local youth players will also be thrilled to have Rohde and Lachica ready to help them improve as well.
The Dells Ducks wrapped up the USPHL Premier regular season with a tough trio of games but some friendly faces on the finale on Sunday night.
Back-to-back losses (10-0, 6-1) in Hudson against the Havoc Friday and Saturday and a 7-0 loss in both its home and regular season finale at Lake Delton Ice Arena Sunday against the Steele County Blades wrapped up a stretch of 13 losses suffered by the team since returning from the Christmas Break.
Some trades in the past few weeks have seen the team’s top two scoring players – Caden Glamkowski (‘04/St. Charles, IL) to the Chicago Cougars for Francesco Addante (‘02/Glenview, IL) who scored the previous weekend in Wisconsin Rapids and Jayden Tkaczuk (‘02/Channahon, IL) traded to the Detroit Fighting Irish for Andrew Crawford (‘05/Seattle, WA) heading to teams with a shot at a long playoff run.
They would be eligible to return next season which could give them a chance to improve on some strong offensive seasons this time around. Glamkowski became just the third player in the 11-year history of the Ducks to hit the 30-goal plateau in a season, joining Aidan Verbeke (37) in the team’s first season and Ian Wood (36, 34) who accomplished it in both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons.
Tkaczuk was the team’s leading scorer last season, and his 56 points (24g, 32a) ranks him 16th all time, two points and one spot in front of Glamkowski.
Ducks 0, 1 @ Havoc 10, 6
Friday night was a tough one for the Ducks in Hudson, the home side scoring twice in the opening six minutes on its way to a 4-0 first period lead, a total it matched in the middle period before rounding it off with two more down the stretch.
Anthony Falzone (‘03/St. Charles, IL) and Drew Moseley (‘02/St. Louis, MO) were the busiest players on the ice, facing a combined 67 shots while the Ducks challenged Matthew Powell with 19 shots, and he kicked them all away.
While cutting down the shots against and improving its own shots total Saturday night, the goaltending of Moseley was tested once again. He stopped 47 of 53 shots including all 19 of the shots he faced in the first period.
The Havoc found a way past him in the second period though and scored four times before Ducks’ captain Bryce Jacobsen (‘02/DeForest, WI), notched his 12th goal of the season, unassisted.
Hudson added one more in the final period to clinch the win.
Blades 7 @ Ducks 0
Sunday’s game saw the Ducks once again outshot by a wide margin on a night that saw the team struggle in all three periods to get the puck beyond its own blue line.
Falzone got the start and once again faced a barrage from the opening faceoff, the Blades topping 20 shots in each frame while the hosts couldn’t get to double digits. Overall, it was a 74-15 edge for the visitors who scored, three in the first and last periods and once in the middle.
The seventh goal came against Jadon Mammen (‘04/Grapevine, TX) who replaced an exhausted Falzone through the final few minutes and faced eight shots.
The Ducks move on to the post season as a major underdog, the number eight seed in the Midwest-West Division, taking on the top seeded Minnesota Blue Ox who finished the regular season 66 points ahead of the Dells’ squad.
The Best of Three series will begin Friday at the Coon Rapids Ice Center at 7 p.m. and the second game will be played Saturday night at the same time and place.
If needed, a third game would be played on Monday at 2:30 p.m., also in Coon Rapids.
Winner of this series will advance to the second round of four, battling for one of two Midwest-West division berths at the league’s national championship tournament to be played in Hudson, NH March 24-29.
The Dells Ducks made the short trek to Wisconsin Rapids last weekend (Feb. 17-18) dropping a pair of decisions in the penultimate weekend of the USPHL regular season, 5-2 on the first night before the Riverkings handed them a lopsided 11-0 defeat the following night.
Looking to snap a long losing streak and gather some momentum heading into the post season.
The Ducks made some big moves in the time between games with top scorers Caden Glamkowski and Jayden Tkaczuk both wearing new jerseys as of last weekend, giving both a shot at making some post season noise with the Chicago Cougars and Detroit Fighting Irish respectively.
As they have all season, the Ducks relied heavily on the goaltending this past weekend and Anthony Falzone (‘03/St. Charles, IL) played a big role in keeping the first game close. Falzone faced close to 70 shots while the Ducks triggered just 11 at the opposite end, but Falzone stood tall throughout the 60-minute contest.
In fact, Francesco Addante (‘02/Glenview, IL) picked up days before in the Glamkowski trade, fired the lone goal of the first period three minutes into the game from Kai Neumaier (‘03/St. Charles, IL). That allowed the Ducks to carry a 1-0 lead into the middle period despite a massive 28-3 edge on the shots board for the home side.
The Riverkings finally found a way past Falzone near the halfway mark of the second period and that opened the floodgates for three more, giving the Rapids’ crew a 4-2 edge heading to the third period.
Luca Maislin (‘03/Montreal, QC) fired his fifth goal in nine games since joining the Ducks while Bryce Jacobsen (‘02/DeForest, WI), Ducks’ captain and now, team leading scorer, collected his 19th assist and 30th point.
Riverkings’ fourth goal was scored by Jeffrey Rebman (‘01/Libertyville, IL) a fifth-year junior who played both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons with the Ducks.
The Riverkings held an 18-5 edge in shots in the middle period and pounded the Ducks with a 22-3 edge in the third, resulting in one final goal.
On Saturday, the Riverkings dominated the shot clock again but this time they found the net early and often on its way to an 11-0 whitewash, the 10th consecutive loss for the Ducks who enter this weekend with three final chances – two in Hudson Friday and Saturday and back on home ice Sunday – to break into the win column.
The Riverkings were up 4-0 after a period and added another five in the middle period before putting it away with a couple goals down the stretch.
Drew Mosely (’02/St. Louis, MO), Jadon Mammen (’04/Grapevine, TX) and Falzone each took a turn in goal in this one, combining to kick out 57 in the contest.
Sunday’s game will give local fans one final chance to get a look at the Ducks this season as they take on the Steele County Blades in a 6:30 p.m. start at the Lake Delton Ice Arena.
The playoff match ups have been determined, at least for the Ducks who face a tough assignment, going into battle next weekend against the Minnesota Blue Ox. Dates and times for that Best-of-Three series are still to be announced.
The Dells Ducks have shown a marked improvement over the course of the season, but the Minnesota Moose showed them in games Saturday and Sunday, the road to the top half of the USPHL’s Premier Midwest-West Division still features several cutbacks up the side of a steep mountain.
Recent games against the fifth place Steele County Blades showed the Ducks who for a second season are by far the youngest team in the division are closing in on being more than competitive with mid pack teams.
But back-to-back 11-2 defeats at the Fogerty Icehouse in Blaine, MN against the Moose were a tough pill to swallow for the locals.
In the opener on Saturday night, the Moose fired nearly 80 shots at Anthony Falzone (‘03/St. Charles, IL) and Drew Moseley (‘02/St. Louis, MO).
Again, the Ducks showed promise, staying with the Moose through the opening 20, but a 2-1 Moose cushion turned into a 5-1 lead in the second period and the Moose exploded for a half dozen down the stretch.
There have been some bright spots and one is the play of Samuel Soltes (‘04/Trnava, Slovakia). He scored his third goal in six games since joining the Ducks on a feed from Justin Green (‘01/Fort Worth, TX). The other goal came from Ethan Matthews (‘02/South Bend, IN) making his debut with the Ducks.
On Sunday, the start was similar, the Moose carrying a 1-0 lead into the second period before Jayden Tkaczuk (‘02/Channahon, IL) tied it with his 12th goal of the season early in the second period from Caden Glamkowski (‘02/St. Charles, IL) and Bryce Jacobsen (‘02/DeForest, WI).
The Moose responded with the next 10 goals, five in the second period and five more in the final 20 before Tkaczuk notched his 13th, again with help from Glamkowski and Jacobsen 47 seconds from the final buzzer.
Falzone and Jadon Mammen (‘04/Grapevine, TX) shared the work in this one, sharing the workload against another 70-plus shots on goal.
The losses in Blaine extended the team’s current losing streak to eight games with five games to play.
The first four are on the road in Wisconsin with a pair at the South Wood County Recreation Center in Wisconsin Rapids Friday and Saturday (Feb. 18-19) against the second place Riverkings and a week later in Hudson against the third place Havoc. The Ducks will wrap up the campaign at the Lake Delton Ice Arena Feb. 27 with one last chance to get by the Steele County Blades before the playoffs start.