By Jim den Hollander
The Dells Ducks have enjoyed a nice turnaround to its regular season of late but one thing remains the same.
Fogerty Ice Arena is no fun for them.
Coming into a weekend set with the host Minnesota Moose riding a modest two-game winning streak and looking much better of late, the Moose brushed them aside in the first of two games by an 11-1 score. The following night the Ducks came out looking to turn the tables and led 2-1 late in the game in what would have been its biggest victory in several seasons.
But the Moose, a team the Ducks have never defeated, spoiled the day for them again, tying the game with 3:30 to play and snatching the win away just over a minute later.
The Moose fired two more in the game’s final minute, the first into an empty goal to rub a bit more salt into the wound, wrapping up a 5-2 win.
Despite the tough losses in Blaine, a win in the Twin Cities Thursday night against the Minnesota Mullets widened the Ducks in the final playoff position and the ninth place Mullets who wrapped an 0-3 weekend.
HIghlights of Thursday included another win in goal for Chris Mazurek (‘03/Batavia, IL) as he stopped 26 of 28 Mullets’ shots and Austin Holmberg (‘03/Amery, WI) fired the game winner early in the final period. Holmberg’s goal was the first of three helping the Ducks rally back from a 2-1 deficit for a 4-2 win.
Friday’s game was a mismatch from the opening faceoff as the host Moose peppered Anthony Falzone (‘03/St. Charles, IL) and Jadon Mammen (‘04/Grapevine, TX) with a combined 68 shots including the game winner notched before the halfway mark of the opening period.
MIkel Ferran Cobo (‘02/Curernabaca, Mexico), a former Moose player fired his third goal since joining the Ducks just before Thanksgiving, the lone bright spot on an otherwise rough night.
If the Ducks were down after the loss to the Moose, it didn’t show Saturday as the team came out looking to prove something in its fourth and final meeting of the season with the Blaine-based squad.
Moose got on the board with the lone goal of the first period but defenseman Jack Kopfstein (‘05/Vista, CA) responded with the lone second period tally.
Mazurek turned in his best outing of the season, kicking out 45 of 46 to keep the game even after 40 despite a 46-17 margin for the home side on the shot counter.
A brilliant neutral zone takeaway sent Bryce Jacobsen in alone and he buried a go-ahead goal right after the Ducks killed a minor penalty with just under four minutes goal in the third giving the Ducks their first lead of the season against the Moose.
The Moose kept up its barrage against Mazurek until netting the equalizer just 3:30 from the final buzzer and breaking Ducks hearts with the game winner just over a minute later. The clincher was slid into an empty net and the Moose fired one more meaningless goal with four seconds to play.
The Ducks will be hoping the goaltending effort of Mazurek who should be the Goaltender of the Week for the division, will give them momentum as they head to the Windy City Thursday for its third and final Showcase event of the season.
The Ducks will start out Thursday at 12:40 p.m. (CST) at the Canlan Arena in Romeoville against the Chicago Cougars who they played in a couple of pre-season exhibition contests in Lake Delton. The Cougars are from the Midwest-East Division.
On Friday the Ducks will face two opponents at the Leafs Center in Elgin, IL. First up is the Cincinnati Cyclones from the Great Lakes Division at 10:10 a.m. and later they will play the MHC club, made up of Metro Jets players, also from the Great Lakes Division.
Wrapping up the pre-Christmas portion of its schedule, the Ducks will return to Romeoville Saturday to play the Northern Colorado Eagles from the Mountain Division at 7:50 p.m. Because the games are being played in a tournament format, starting times may not be exact.
After the Showcase, players will scatter around the globe to celebrate the holiday with their respective families, then return to prepare for its first home series since November Steele County Blades pay a visit to the Lake Delton Ice Arena Jan. 7-8, 2023.
Those games will kick off the 13-game homestretch for the Ducks who will wrap up the regular season on Feb. 26.