By Jim den Hollander
The Dells Ducks junior hockey team hit the ice for the first time in three weeks with a three-game weekend Jan. 28-30.
After a pair of tough losses on the road against the USPHL Midwest-West Division’s top entry, the Ducks returned home Sunday afternoon to wrap it up with a narrow 3-2 loss to the visiting Steele County Blades.
Sunday’s game went past chippy, teams combining for more than 70 minutes in the sin bin – more than half of those in the third period.
The Ducks spent a large part of the third period shorthanded. The good news for the Ducks was it was able to successfully kill every second of the infractions in the final period and the bad news was it left no time for the team to mount a counterattack to tie the score.
There was no scoring in the third and the Ducks saw a 2-1 lead after a period taken away with two unanswered goals for the Blades in the middle 20.
Jacob Cartland (‘02/Mukwonago, WI) opened the scoring for the Ducks with a shorthanded tally after taking a feed from Justin Green (‘01/Fort Worth, TX) 8:01 into the contest but the Blades struck back less than a minute later on the same powerplay. Cartland’s goal was his 11th of the season.
Kai Neumaier (‘03/St. Charles, IL) scored on a solo effort with 4:35 to play in the opening period to give the Ducks a lead at the break.
Blades scored before the end of the opening minute of the middle period to knot the score and fired the game winner 6:24 from the end of the frame. The tying goal was a shorthanded effort for Seva Bannikov (‘01/Minsk, Belarus) and the game winner came from Jake Miltko (‘03/Colorado Springs, CO).
Once again, Ducks’ goaltender Drew Moseley (‘02/St. Louis, MO) stepped up in a huge way, stopping all but three of 60 shots faced in goal for the Ducks.
Ducks 2, 3 @ Blue Ox 15, 9
The Blue Ox showed the Ducks on Friday and Saturday nights why they are not only the leaders in the Midwest-West Division but a legit threat at capturing the League’s National Championship in March.
The Ducks opened and closed the scoring in the opening period Friday but in between was five Blue Ox markers, the first three coming together in a span of 53 seconds.
That was the story of the two-game set as the Blue Ox frequently scored in bunches. With a number of new faces in the lineup, it was a tough assignment trying to work the chemistry in a game situation against a team that turned nearly every Ducks’ miscue into a goal.
Cartland started a solid weekend of play with the Ducks’ first goal, the other Ducks’ goal scored by Samuel Soltes (‘04/Trnava, Slovakia) in his first game in North America. Defenseman Gage Senio (‘04/Red Deer, AB) had an assist on both Ducks goals.
Saturday’s game saw a Ducks team determined to keep the game closer and they were successful through the first half of the game.
Down 2-0 after a period, the team went to work and pulled even with goals from Luca Maislin (‘03/Montreal, QC), his third in four games with the team since being acquired from the Florida Eels and defenseman Luke Taylor (‘04/Chandler, AZ).
Assists came from Cartland giving him a point in all three games and Caden Glamkowski (‘04/St. Charles, IL).
The tying goal came three minutes into the second period and stayed in place until the Ox fired four in the final seven minutes of the period and added three more in the third.
The Ducks could take the first two games in stride. Although the first game was its most lopsided loss of the season to date, it chalked up to learning against a solid team that has returned a huge number of players from last season’s team that reached the National Championship tournament.
The loss to the Blades was tough to take, Ducks facing some adversity in the contest with some tough calls on the ice.
They get an immediate shot at redemption though as the team kicks off another three-game weekend with a trip to the Four Seasons Center in Owatonna, MN to play the same Blades on Friday night (Feb. 4). Following that, the team will head north to Blaine for Saturday and Sunday matches against the Minnesota Moose.
The Ducks have eight games remaining in regular season play. This weekend will wrap up its season series with the Moose, leaving two-game weekends in both Wisconsin Rapids and Hudson before wrapping up the campaign on home ice against the Blades Feb. 27.
Below are interviews done before weekend series. For some reason, the preview story and photos did not upload.