Emotional and successful night for Ducks

By Jim den Hollander



The Dells Ducks collected their first home win of the 2020-21 USPHL regular season Sunday, turning in its most impressive 60-minutes at the Lake Delton Ice Arena on an emotional night and in front of a large crowd.

The effort and the 3-1 win couldn’t have been better timed as the Ducks welcomed the Rum River Mallards to the Lake Delton Ice Arena with a win that moved them into a tie for the eighth and final USPHL Premier Midwest-West playoff position.

Players, team management and fans paid tribute to Kelly Morris, the team’s first fan with a brief, but touching pre-game ceremony as Morris unfortunately passed away earlier in the week. Kelly’s family and many friends were on hand for the game, just hours after his funeral.

The victory confirmed the Ducks’ play at the Chicago Showcase just before the Christmas Break was not a mirage. The team entered the tournament with a record of 0-26-0-0 but have now picked up wins in three of its past five games and have been beaten in regulation just once.

Team captain Luke Marks switched from forward to defense at the beginning of the season but a December facelift saw a short-staffed and shell shocked D-Corps revitalized and deepened to the point that Marks started Sunday night on the wing of the team’s opening line.

Marks celebrated his first night ‘up front’ snapping the game winning goal home just before the halfway mark of the opening period. The goal gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead after Jayden Tkaczuk notched the opening goal, his team-leading 10th of the season a little more than three minutes prior.

Bryce Jacobsen was the set-up man on both goals. Playing in just his 14th game of the season, Jacobsen has collected nine points and moved into a tie for fourth overall in team scoring.

Marks added another, his fourth of the season in the middle period, this time accepting help from defenseman John Urgo and Mason Friedrichs who collected his first point as a Duck.

With the win, the Ducks boosted its overall record to 3-27-1 on the season, sliding into a tie in points with the same Mallards. The Ducks however have played 11 more games than the Mallards. The team will enjoy a rare weekend off coming up, then heads back into action against the Chicago Cougars on the road.

Ducks next home game is scheduled for Feb. 7 when the Rochester Vipers pay a visit.


Ducks-Blades both looking to hit win column this weekend

By Jim den Hollander



This weekend’s USPHL Premier Midwest-West series between the Dells Ducks and Steele County Blades could feature a pair of teams looking to move up.

After missing the post season in 2018-19, the Blades improved to seventh in the nine-team division last season, finishing at 11-31-1-1 for 24 points, doubling its previous season’s finish.

The Ducks meanwhile dipped to 9-32-3-0 for 21 points and the eighth and final playoff position – the worst finish in the team’s nine-season history.

Both teams have a core of new faces in the lineup but will rely on the few returners to steer the ship.

For the Blades, Connor Lee, a speedy forward from Sydney, Australia, not afraid to throw his weight around made his presence felt in the team’s opening contest, scoring two of the team’s four goals on Wednesday as the Blades fell to the Minnesota Mullets 7-4.

The Blades held the edge in shots and owned an early 3-0 Mullets but couldn’t hold off the Mullets who took over the game’s second half.

The Ducks suffered through a baptism of fire on its opening weekend, outscored 20-1 by an experienced Chicago Cougars team that included five players from the 2019-20 Dells Ducks roster. However, Head Coach Shaun Falzone and Anthony Rohde said the experience could prove invaluable to a young Ducks team learning on the fly.

Defenders Cody Long and John Urgo both return to the Ducks blue line while Luke Marks and Adam Brown appear to be able to play defense or forward this season and Jerame Kennedy has looked good at the start of his second season. Also, in goal the Ducks relied on Isaac Hyde, a goaltender with previous USPHL experience, in the opening contest.

The newcomers played a role as well, Anthony Falzone turning in a brilliant goaltending performance through the first half of Saturday’s game and it was Jayden Tkaczuk notching the team’s first goal in his second career junior contest.

The Ducks are hoping to find a niche as a fast team not afraid of the physical play but found itself smothered at the offensive blue line often on its opening weekend.

This weekend could see a pair of thrillers with two teams close in their development stage looking to find their way to the win column.

Game time at the Lake Delton Ice Arena is 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night.