Riverkings, Havoc next challenge for Ducks

By Jim den Hollander 



The Dells Ducks will return home for its third straight weekend of three or more games with visits from the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings on Friday and the Hudson Havoc Saturday and Sunday. 

After this weekend, the Ducks, who enter with a 1-14 record will have played all seven of its USPHL Premier Midwest-West Division opponents at least once. While a core group of players are enjoying stellar individual campaigns, the young team has found it difficult to find the win column. 

After a thrilling overtime win against the Chicago Cougars in the third game of the season, September 24, the Ducks dropped a dozen straight. 

Making things a bit more difficult, the team has played short-staffed the past couple weeks, but the defense corps got a needed boost at the Midwest-West Showcase with the addition of Evan Haddeman (‘04/Hudson, IA), who came to the Ducks after starting the season with the Lake Tahoe Lakers in the Premier Pacific Division. 

Also in the lineup was Zachary Windom, an ‘05 defenseman from Allen, TX who has been with the team since opening day but recovering from an ankle injury. Easily the youngest defense corps in the division if not the league, the Ducks enter the weekend with two ‘05’s (Windom and Jack Kopfstein) and three ‘04’s (Haddeman, Thomas Howell and Lucas Taylor). 

Once again, the upcoming tests will be difficult as the Riverkings and Havoc are perennial top-four finishers although a quick look at the division history books shows a Havoc team that made its own way up from rock bottom about five seasons ago. 

Since 2018, the Ducks have won just twice in 14 starts against the Riverkings and both – a 1-0 win in 2019 that saw Emil Norrman kicking out all 47 shots he faced, and a 4-3 edge in 2020 that saw Jason Heard scoring a pair of goals. Heard has returned to the Ducks on a part time basis whenever his job commitments in Chicago allow. 

Last season, the Ducks squared off with the Riverkings five times and scored just one goal….total. The Riverkings meanwhile hit double digits on the scoreboard in three of the games. Needless to say, the Riverkings have had the Ducks’ number in recent seasons. 

The Ducks have posted a 2-9-2-0 record against the Havoc since 2018 but the Havoc has claimed the last 11. The Ducks last win came Nov. 3, 2018. 

Game time on both Friday and Saturday will be 7:30 p.m. with a 1:30 p.m. Matinee contest on Sunday. 

Coach Falzone talks strategy with his charges during a brief break in the team’s second practice of the day at the Lake Delton Ice Arena on Thursday, Nov. 4. The Ducks will entertain the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings on Friday and follow it up with Saturday and Sunday games against the visiting Hudson Havoc.

Jimmy D’s Top 10 Games — #4

Norrman takes over — 2019

The Ducks have won some huge games and come up short a time or two as well. Other than its second season though, there were few upset wins as the Ducks were almost always the favorite.

Emil Norrman changed that in his season with the Ducks – 2018-19 on at least a couple occasions, including the opening round playoff series. The Swedish goaltender gave glimpses a few times through a tough regular season of what he could do, and he loaded the whole team on his back for the opening round playoff series against the heavily favored Hudson Havoc.

Emil Norrman

Favored for good reason actually, with a 31-11-1-1 regular season record, the Havoc finished with 64 points, tied for first, but moved out of the top spot due to one less win than the Minnesota Moose on the final day of the regular season. That left the Havoc 26-points clear of the seventh place Ducks.

They should have dominated the series and they did — everywhere except the scoreboard. The Ducks kept it close in the opener, winning 2-1 as Norrman turned aside 31 of 32 shots, the Ducks outshot 32-24.

The host squad, facing elimination, squeezed a little tighter in the middle game and came away with a 6-3 margin and a shots on goal edge of 38-18.

In the finale, Emil Norrman faced 52 shots and was not beaten, making a third period goal by Connor Aguilar stand up as all the offense in a 1-0 Ducks win.

The dream ended there as the Minnesota Moose threw 51 shots at Norrman in a 3-1 win and wrapped up a berth at Nationals with another 49 shots and a 4-0 win in the clincher.

Ducks split opening pair with Mullets on home ice.

The Dells Ducks junior hockey team tried to rally back from first period deficits in both home games this weekend.
In its United States Premier Hockey League (Premier Midwest-West Division) season opener, the Ducks were successful, rallying back from an early 2-0 deficit for a thrilling 5-4 win in overtime against the visiting Minnesota Mullets. However, despite a valiant attempt the following night, the Ducks could pull just one goal back from an early 4-0 deficit, falling 4-1 to the same Mullets.
Ducks played the Mullets, including third year junior Sebastian Frank, a former student at Wisconsin Dells High School tough in all meetings last season, defeating them once, but the Mullets finished 21-points ahead of the Ducks in the final division standings – fourth overall compared to the Ducks’ eighth place overall showing.
Teams seemed even again this season although the Mullets had the edge in shots on both nights. Ducks’ goaltender Emil Norrman, 20, from Kungsbacka, Sweden was a key figure in both games for the Ducks. Despite allowing four goals in the opening game, Norrman turned aside 41 over 64 plus minutes, including some point-blank chances in the late minutes of regulation.
Norrman was back in the crease heading in after the Ducks fell behind 3-0 in the opening 13:13 of the Saturday night contest. Still cold, Norrman was beaten on the first shot he faced, but then stopped the next 30 shots he faced, giving his team a chance to battle back.

Ducks 5 Mullets 4 (to)
In the season opener, the Ducks found themselves looking up at a 2-0 Mullets’ lead with goals from Benjamin Borreson and Blake Gutterman in the opening eight minutes.
Captain Stone Stelzl, 18, from Blaine, MN, the team’s leading scorer last season, picked up where he left off with the first goal of the new campaign for the Ducks 6:12 from the end of the opening period, finishing a three-way player with another returner – Jeffrey Rebmann, 17, from Libertyville, IL and newcomer Jason Heard, 17, from Atlanta GA.
That pulled the home team to within one and two goals 28-seconds apart shot the Ducks to its first lead of the season near the halfway mark of the middle period.
Returning 17-year-old Sun Prairie native Roger Schoenike jammed the tying goal home from the top of the crease before another returner, Justin Gulas, 18, from Fitchburg, WI fired the go-ahead tally.
Rockford native, Wyatt Mikkelson, 18 and Giovani Mueller, 18, from Beaver Dam had assists on both goals.
Nate Holm pulled the Mullets even about four minutes later and teams were even at 3-3 with 20-minutes to go.
Mullets moved in front again with Gutterman’s second of the contest, but Rebmann tied it again just before the halfway mark of the period, from Gulas and Heard.
Norrman came up with some big stops for the Ducks in the final couple minutes of regulation when the Mullets threw all it had at him, but it was the Ducks taking the game to the guests through much of the 3-on-3 overtime segment.
Defenseman Alex Goder, a 19-year-old native of Milwaukee who watched much of last season from the sidelines with a nasty leg injury, stepped up as the first hero of the season when he slid home a perfect pass across the goalmouth from Stelzl 43-seconds from the end of the five-minute sudden-death period. Defenseman Beckett Patten, 18, from Bozeman, MT recorded the other assist and the final shots tally had the visitors in front 45-39.

Mullets 4 Ducks 1
Saturday night, the Ducks sent Glen Allyn, VA native Ian Donselaar to the crease and he endured a rough start, surrendering three goals in the opening 13:14 of the game and another just seconds after Norrman took over had the guests comfortably up 4-0.
The Mullets held an 18-9 edge in shots through the period and at the other end, John Bostedt denied the Ducks on all but one shot.
The lone home goal came from Brayden Cooper, 19, from Clinton, WI, a former player for Beloit High School who counted his first tally since 2015/16 just before the halfway mark of the middle period. Patten and Jacob Richardson, 18, from Addison, IL. The Ducks rallied back and stayed even with the visitors on the shot clock, but both goaltenders were unbeatable through the second half of the contest.
Next up Minnesota Moose
The Ducks will remain on home ice this weekend, entertaining the defending regular season champion Minnesota Moose in games on both Friday and Saturday.
The Moose opened with home and home games against the Hudson Havoc this past weekend, splitting the pair with a 4-1 win in the opener but a 1-0 loss to the Havoc in a pair of games played in Hudson.