Amazing weekend and amazing month for

By Jim den Hollander


This is the first opinion column written in a while, primarily because there always seems to be so many things that take priority over it.

But I wanted to take a minute to thank a ton of people who have helped with the start of the Dells Ducks regular season and with my website,

First the opening weekend. Where do I start, How about going back to last spring and thanking new/old Head Coach Shaun Falzone for breathing life into a proud franchise that was admittedly treading water in terms of on ice performance the previous few seasons. I certainly don’t point any fingers of blame for that…in fact, heading into our second weekend, it’s hard not to realize this team is going to take some lumps this season as well.

But Falzone is an eternal optimist and a players’ coach. To a man, the guys on this season’s team love the attitude and direction. Even guys like Cody Long and Luke Marks who will not be around to see this team’s greatest achievements, have bought in fully and are excited to start the process for the rest of their teammates.

To Anthony Rohde who I am starting to consider a genius on the ice. To date, he appears willing to throw the blades on and head out on the ice and help anybody perfect their game in any way. It certainly doesn’t take long; Rohde barely ties his skates…if at all and that makes the stuff he does on the ice even more remarkable.

To all the volunteers: Penny, Sharon, Maribel, Robin, Jen, Don, Trent, Chris, Jon, Suzy, Olivia, Ali and surely others I have unfortunately missed, for helping a busy, crazy weekend run so smooth it looked like we had done it 100 times before.

To John and Johnny who grabbed the ball for the alumni weekend and turned it into an event the former players and local fans will talk about for some time (people already talking about the ‘next one.’). As if you both didn’t have a full enough plate, I just can thank you enough for seeing this thing through.

To our alumni members, that jumped at an opportunity to come back to town, reminisce, rediscover their love of each other and do some stuff they would have gotten in trouble for when they played here. I believe John Schwarz found some deals, but the guys came on their own dime and like so many others, dropped a ton of dough in the Dells community while they were here. All we had to do was ask them to do it.

To Aaron Kirby, who, like me is recharged and excited for this Ducks season and to the players who have literally taken ownership of their ‘home’ chipping in from day one when they helped produce the ice itself. It’s not hard to tell, Kirby and players/coaches take a lot of pride in the Lake Delton Ice Arena.

Those were the first two regular season games and there’s 42 more junior games along with a host of varsity and youth hockey to come.

For my site, I am a few hours away from the first big month of Last Spring I kind of began the effort of introducing the site and in March I had 950 views, a huge core of those coming from a brief video interview with Kaylee Engel who played for the Badger Lightning and will this season play varsity hockey for the Northland College Lumberjills.

I surpassed 2600 views for my site in September and it will be my goal to surpass that total in October. I can’t thank the local hockey community enough for helping me reach those numbers. I hope this is just the start.


Dallman-Phillips grab first coaching wins

The Dells Ducks Junior Hockey team finally hit the win column and made a little history on Saturday night at the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena in Lake Delton.
After seeing a 2-0 lead slip away Friday night and settling for a single point with a 3-2 overtime loss to the visiting Steele County Blades from Owatonna, MN, the Ducks made it a three-point weekend, taking the getaway game on Saturday night 5-1.
The win was the first career win as a Head Coach for new Ducks’ coach Josh Dallman and the first as an assistant for Austin Phillips, former Ducks player.
The local team seems to have a few more Wisconsin players each season and now boasts and all-Wisconsin Coaching staff as Dallman is originally from Merrill and played junior hockey in Stevens Point while Phillips was born in Texas but played most of his hockey in the Milwaukee area.
Goals have been hard to come by early in the season for the Ducks who scored just five total through its first three games, so a five-goal explosion in the fourth game was a welcome sight. Even better was the fact five different shooters hit the game sheet.
On Friday night, Chicago native Adam Brown scored the lone goal of the opening period to put the Ducks up 1-0 and Milwaukee’s Connor Aguilar doubled the margin with his goal 8:10 into the second.
Newly added goaltender, Tyler Szturm, from Thunder Bay, ON enjoyed a nice debut in the Dells, allowing just three goals in six periods plus, the first coming just under two minutes after Aguilar’s tally and it was a 2-1 game with 20 minutes to go.
The tying goal came with 8:16 to play and the Blades grabbed its first and only lead of the game 2:32 into the overtime session. All three Blades’ goals came from Danila Besedin, from Moscow, Russia.
Unsatisfied with Friday’s effort, the Ducks came out determined to right the ship on Saturday. After a scoreless first period, the Ducks grabbed control with three unanswered middle period markers and another in the third before the visiting Blades gained some consolation with Besedin stepping up one more time to shatter the shutout bid of Szturm inside of the final five minutes.
Another goal into an empty cage wrapped it up for the Ducks. Brown had the empty netter, his third of the season and others came from: Noe Ben Salem (Aaigle, Switzerland); Jason Heard (Atlanta, Ga.); Jacob Richardson (Chicago, Ill) and Dylan Buttner (Wausau, Wis.).
The Ducks will enjoy a weekend off coming up as they prepare for a big rivalry match Oct. 4 against the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings. Monk’s at the Wilderness will once again hold its annual Tailgate event at the Picnic Area by the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena. Monk’s will be offering its all you can eat slider buffet again at the 5th Annual event and the price has never changed. Plus, Monk’s will donate all the $6 fee to local hockey — $5 to the Ducks and $1 to the Youth Cyclones. The Tailgate event will run from 5-6:30 p.m. followed by puck drop at 7 p.m. against the Riverkings.

Ducks down, but not out in USPHL playoff race

While showing some signs of snapping out of a funk that has plagued the Dells Ducks junior hockey team since early November, the team was definitely limping when it headed into the USPHL Premier League playoffs.
Certainly, the wins Nov. 2-3 against the Midwest-West division leading Hudson Havoc had to be a high point for the local club as the Havoc has only dropped three other games in regulation through the entire regular season – 28 games, to date.
When they followed it up with back to back wins in Chicago against the host Cougars the following weekend, things were looking up for the Ducks, but that’s where the season kind of fell off a cliff.
After the Chicago wins, the Ducks headed to Beantown where it dropped all four games played in a Showcase tournament. The woes continued on its return, the losing skid opening up to seven games before the Ducks finally picked up a 5-4 win against the Minnesota Blue Ox on the road Dec. 15. The Ducks fell the following day to the Minnesota Mullets and dropped three of four at the Midwest Showcase tournament heading into the Christmas Break.
The 117 goals against the Ducks is second highest in the Midwest-West Division behind only the massive 172 scored against the Kasson Vipers.
The Ducks challenged as a division front-runner early this season but now the team enters its final 11 games 10 points away from garnering home ice advantage in the opening round of the post season. In fact, if the post season started today, the Ducks would rank seventh and face the challenge of finding a way to defeat the Minnesota Moose, the same team that ended its season two games into the playoffs a year ago.
The season is far from over. The Ducks have shown it can win against the league’s top teams and that will be put to the test immediately after returning as the Ducks will being in Hudson against the division leading Havoc – the same team it earned that sweep against in early November. Of its final 11, only three will be on home ice, but the final four will all be against the two teams that currently trail the Ducks in division standings.
Getting home ice advantage might be a longshot now, but the team could still gain some momentum through the final weeks and use it to advantage as a playoff underdog.
The final six weeks will be a crucial time for the Ducks to become playoff ready.