By Jim den Hollander
The Dells Ducks have shown a marked improvement over the course of the season, but the Minnesota Moose showed them in games Saturday and Sunday, the road to the top half of the USPHL’s Premier Midwest-West Division still features several cutbacks up the side of a steep mountain.
Recent games against the fifth place Steele County Blades showed the Ducks who for a second season are by far the youngest team in the division are closing in on being more than competitive with mid pack teams.
But back-to-back 11-2 defeats at the Fogerty Icehouse in Blaine, MN against the Moose were a tough pill to swallow for the locals.
In the opener on Saturday night, the Moose fired nearly 80 shots at Anthony Falzone (‘03/St. Charles, IL) and Drew Moseley (‘02/St. Louis, MO).
Again, the Ducks showed promise, staying with the Moose through the opening 20, but a 2-1 Moose cushion turned into a 5-1 lead in the second period and the Moose exploded for a half dozen down the stretch.
There have been some bright spots and one is the play of Samuel Soltes (‘04/Trnava, Slovakia). He scored his third goal in six games since joining the Ducks on a feed from Justin Green (‘01/Fort Worth, TX). The other goal came from Ethan Matthews (‘02/South Bend, IN) making his debut with the Ducks.
On Sunday, the start was similar, the Moose carrying a 1-0 lead into the second period before Jayden Tkaczuk (‘02/Channahon, IL) tied it with his 12th goal of the season early in the second period from Caden Glamkowski (‘02/St. Charles, IL) and Bryce Jacobsen (‘02/DeForest, WI).
The Moose responded with the next 10 goals, five in the second period and five more in the final 20 before Tkaczuk notched his 13th, again with help from Glamkowski and Jacobsen 47 seconds from the final buzzer.
Falzone and Jadon Mammen (‘04/Grapevine, TX) shared the work in this one, sharing the workload against another 70-plus shots on goal.
The losses in Blaine extended the team’s current losing streak to eight games with five games to play.
The first four are on the road in Wisconsin with a pair at the South Wood County Recreation Center in Wisconsin Rapids Friday and Saturday (Feb. 18-19) against the second place Riverkings and a week later in Hudson against the third place Havoc. The Ducks will wrap up the campaign at the Lake Delton Ice Arena Feb. 27 with one last chance to get by the Steele County Blades before the playoffs start.