Tough stretch for improved Ducks

By Jim den Hollander


While the results show more losses piling up, the Dells Ducks junior hockey team certainly is making strides toward respectability in its most recent contests.

The Ducks squared off against two rivals that have dominated them this season in the past two weekends, the Chicago Cougars and Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings.

Tangling with the Riverkings is simply too difficult a task this season for the Ducks. The top team in the USPHL’s Midwest-West Division, the Riverkings saw a stretch of 16 straight games without a regulation loss snapped at the Chicago Showcase tournament just before Christmas.

The team which makes a habit of switching to a higher gear after the Christmas Break has not lost in regular since then either, its 7-0 and 9-0 wins against the Ducks on the weekend running its current string to 9-0-1. The Riverkings are not only a near lock to make it to the National Championship tournament next month, but at this point the team is among the favorites to bring home the hardware too.

Nobody will ever concede before the games are played, but this season, the Riverkings are just too tough.

The same was thought to be the case with the Chicago Cougars who defeated the Ducks by a combined score of 20-1 on the opening weekend of the season. So, when the Ducks skated into an overtime period, locked in a 2-2 draw with the Cougars on the road, Jan. 22 it was a pleasant surprise for Ducks fans and a flat-out shock for the Cougars.

Adam Brown and Liam Hogan scored the goals against the Cougars with assists for Luke Marks and Kanyn Rogers.

Consider the fact the Cougars did not have league-leading scorer Jozef Martancik or recently added OHL defender and legit NHL Draft prospect Simon Motew in their lineup when they faced the Ducks in September and – on paper – this is an improved Chicago team. But the Ducks gave them a legit battle in this game and that is a testament to both the never-say-die attitude of the team and improvements the team has made at virtually every position since dropping its first 26-games of the season.

Next up is an opponent the Ducks have also always had a tough time with.  The Moose have been among the front runners in the USPHL’s Midwest-West Division since joining the loop and have twice made quick work of the Ducks in the post season.

The Moose used a pair of wins against Hudson Havoc on the weekend to slip into second place in the Division on the weekend and they actually sit just four points behind the Riverkings with a game in hand. They carry an eight game winning streak into the weekend set in Spooner and also picked up lopsided wins against a different Ducks team earlier this season.

Mallards Win


The point against the Cougars pushed the Ducks out of the bottom spot in the division for the first time this season last week as they slipped by the Rum River Mallards into the eighth and final playoff position.

However, the Mallards grabbed the spot back snapping a nine-game losing streak on Friday night with a 2-1 overtime win against the seventh place Rochester Vipers. The Mallards have dropped another pair since then, but they lead the Ducks by a point. Ironically, the game winner scored against the Vipers was an overtime goal by Noe Ben-Salem a former Ducks’ player who has been with the Mallards since just before the Christmas Break.

The Ducks have two games left to play against the Mallards which could decide the final playoff spot (as well as the winners of the Inaugural ‘Ducks Cup’), but the Mallards have five extra games to play, including two more against the Vipers who could be pulled back into a three-way race for two playoff spots in the next few weeks.

What’s left for the Ducks – 9 games.

@Minnesota Moose (Spooner) – 2 (Feb. 5-6)

Vs. Rochester Vipers – 1 (Feb. 7 at Lake Delton Ice Arena)

Vs. Minnesota Blue Ox – 2 (Feb. 19-20 at Lake Delton Ice Arena)

@Minnesota Mullets – 2 (Augsburg University Ice Arena.)

@Rum River Mallards – 2 (TBA)





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 inch closer to first win

The Ducks are still searching for its first win of the season but Sunday’s effort gave the team for optimism for sure.

On Sunday, the Ducks scored the first two goals and carried a 2-1 lead into the second period and a 3-2 edge into the third, but four straight for the Vipers saw this one end in disappointing fashion once again.

Bright spots included a two-goal game for Logan Potts, an ’03 from Allen, Texas who has four goals, including three in his past two games.

Jayden Tkaczuk and Adam Brown notched the other Ducks goals while Anthony Falzone turned in a solid 58-save performance. The Ducks looked far more confident at both ends, connected on a powerplay marker played a more confident game in its own end. There are many miles still to travel, but the Ducks have continued the trend of looking better every time it hits the ice.

Perhaps the breakthrough could come this weekend as they turned a Monday one-off in Owatonna into a Friday-Saturday road trip to play a pair against the Steele County Blades who are also in action Thursday in the Twin Cities against the Minnesota Mullets.

Some other alterations to the schedule will see the Ducks in a home-and-home pair with the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, at South Wood County Recreation Center Nov. 21 and back home at the Lake Delton Ice Arena Nov. 22.

Ducks realize success not gauged in wins and losses

By Jim den Hollander


There are steep learning curves and then there is the Dells Ducks trying to make their way up the Everest-like curve this season.

Making things a little more difficult was the recent health issue that forced the team to the sidelines from practice and/or games for two weeks.

In their latest tests at the USPHL Premier Midwest-West Showcase played at Fogerty Ice Arena October 22-25, the Ducks suffered another four defeats, but found some small consolations.

After facing the Minnesota Blue Ox and dropping a lopsided decision on Thursday, the Ducks turned in its best offensive efforts of the season on Friday. After scoring just six times in its first seven games, the Ducks collected seven goals in a pair of games Friday but ultimately fell 8-4 to the Rochester Vipers and 5-3 to the Minnesota Mullets.

The Ducks headed home after another rough outing falling by a lopsided score again to the Minnesota Moose.

The losses drop the Ducks to 0-9-0-0 on the season so far with a tough assignment against the Hudson Havoc set for the Halloween weekend.

Listed below are some of the positive points from a rough weekend.

  • Collin Driscoll playing some defense against the Steele County Blades earlier this season. Driscoll is used to putting up the points and the Warwick, Rhode Island forward finally collected his first, second and third junior goals at last weekend’s showcase.,
    As stated above, the Ducks were able to find the net in a couple games and they were competitive in both. Against the Vipers, the Dells were even at 1-1 after the first 17-minute period and still very much in it despite trailing 4-2 with a period to play. Against the Mullets, the Ducks scored first and entered the second period even at 1-1. Trailing 2-1 after two, the Mullets scored early and both teams fired a pair in the game’s final two minutes.

  • Despite some lopsided scores, the goaltending is showing signs of brilliance. There are certainly some down times for the goaltenders, but the Ducks continue to be grossly outshot. In the four weekend games, the margin was 191-59 in favor of the four opponents for an average of 48-15 per game. In the game against the Mullets, the Ducks – thanks to some solid work in the blue paint from Anthony Falzone, were in the game from start to finish despite being outshot 35-14. The three goals on 14 shots in not too shabby either.

  • The scoring is getting little more spread out and some players – Liam Hogan, Logan Potts, and Aaron Sherlock, who seemed a little snake bit on their chances earlier this season all hit the game sheet. It was a breakthrough weekend for Collin Driscoll, the ’02 from Warwick, R.I. hitting the game sheet three times.
  • The players seem to have addressed the discipline issue that plagued its recent defeats. The team sat a total of 38 minutes over the weekend – an average of about four minors per game and there were no majors or misconducts. In the first three games, the Ducks were either even with its opponent in penalty minutes or served less than their opponent.

Make no mistake – there are still miles to cover, but for the young Ducks, looking for positives wherever they can find them, these are all promising signs.

The month of November was already a light one for the Ducks and the postponement of the East Coast Showcase, scheduled for the month gives the team plenty of time to work on their game and prepare themselves for the heart of the season in December and January.

Discipline issues hurt Ducks in loss to Vipers

By Jim den Hollander


After two weeks of quarantine, the Dells Ducks found it difficult to stay with the Rochester Vipers and fell to 0-5 in USPHL Premier League play on Sunday night at Lake Delton Ice Arena.

The Vipers took advantage of rebound opportunities and some discipline issues on the Ducks’ side rolling to a 9-1 win, one of the biggest victories in the team’s three-season history.

The team appeared to hit stride about halfway through the middle period, but by then the visiting Vipers, who celebrated its first victory of the season the previous evening, had already racked up five goals.

The Vipers opened the scoring in the game’s third minute and never looked back, running to a 4-0 first period cushion. The toughest goal for the Ducks was the fourth, scored with 64 seconds to play in the period.

The Ducks showed its first signs of real offensive power firing three of it’s seven first period shots in a span of about 90 seconds. Not only was the team unsuccessful in finding the mesh, when the Vipers did finally clear the zone it resulted in an odd man rush the other way and ultimately, a goal by Vince Palade.

The Ducks did appear more engaged in the contest from the start of the middle segment and despite going down by another goal in the sixth minute, the team responded just 35 seconds later, Jayden Tkaczuk gathering in the rebound of a shot by Adam Brown and backhanding it into a wide open side of the goal. Dillon Collings also collected an assist on the goal.

That was the end of the offense for the Ducks though and after a tame first period that saw just two minor penalties called, the Ducks went off the rails in terms of discipline collecting two majors and a couple 10-minute misconducts for unsportsmanlike conduct in the second half of the game.

The Ducks collected 43 minutes in penalties in the contest, all but four minutes coming after the Ducks’ lone goal. The Vipers were assessed just one minor penalty along with a major and game misconduct that saw ’01 forward Reider Stelzl and ’02 Rochester forward Gus Hughes getting the gate for the game’s lone fight in the second period.

The Vipers carried a 6-1  lead into the third period then added three more unanswered markers to wrap up a big weekend.

Anthony Falzone turned aside 26 first period shots for the Ducks, Brendan Williamson adding another 34 saves in the final 40 minutes. The Vipers also swapped goalies near the halfway mark of the game, starter Patrick Kristo turning aside all but one of the 13 shots he faced and Sean Bolduc unbeaten with 12 saves.

The Ducks will attend its first of three Showcase tournaments beginning Thursday as all nine of the league’s Midwest-West Division teams will take part in an event at Fogerty Ice Arena in Blaine.

The Ducks will faceoff at 12:20 p.m. on Thursday against the Minnesota Blue Ox, then return for two on Friday – 9:20 a.m. against the Rochester Vipers once again and then returning at 5:40 against the Minnesota Mullets. The Ducks will wrap up on Saturday night with a 6:20 p.m. game against the Minnesota Moose.

Ducks – Vipers to square off Sunday in USPHL contest

Forced to postpone games in recent weeks, the Ducks have scheduled a game for Sunday at the Lake Delton Ice Arena against the Rochester Vipers.

This promises to be an interesting battle as both clubs head into the weekend still searching for their first USPHL Premier League win.

The Ducks have dropped two each against the Chicago Cougars and Steele County Blades and have struggled at both ends of the ice, outscored so far 33-3. The Vipers meanwhile have had a little more success offensively, but still find themselves at 0-5 and outscored by a margin of 55-15. While the Sunday night tilt will be the lone game of the weekend for the Ducks, the Vipers are scheduled to play host to the Minnesota Mullets on Saturday evening.

Last season the Ducks finished eighth in the nine-team Midwest-West Divisoin, ahead of only the Vipers who missed the post season. Both teams are looking to make strides forward this season despite their respective slow starts.

Game time at the Lake Delton Ice Arena Sunday will be 6:30 p.m. The following weekend will see all nine USPHL teams in action at the Midwest-West Division Showcase event at Fogerty Ice Arena in Blaine, Minnesota.


Ducks announce pre-season matches on home ice

The Dells Ducks recently announced a pair of pre-season hockey games scheduled for the Lake Delton Ice Arena.

The Ducks will play a pair of games against USPHL Midwest-West Division rival, the Rochester Vipers at the local rink on Saturday, September 19 at noon and 6 p.m.

There will be no admission to watch the scrimmage matches.

The Ducks will open the season Sept. 25-26 against the Chicago Cougars and once again will have a home friendly schedule out of the game with its first seven games on home ice.

Ducks heading to Blaine following three splits

The Dells Ducks collected its third straight weekend split this past weekend and collected three of four points against the visiting Rochester Vipers following a 3-2 loss in overtime Friday and a bounce back 4-0 win Saturday.

They will be looking for a similar, if not better performance when they hit the road to play a Friday/Saturday pair against the defending USPHL Midwest-West Division champion Minnesota Moose.

Penalties – in particular three majors, were costly in the Friday night game at Poppy Waterman Ice Arena as the Ducks gave up a 3-2 decision in overtime after holding 1-0 and 2-1 leads earlier in the contest.

Luke Marks and Jason Heard fired the Ducks goals and Tyler Szturm turned in a 27-save effort between the pipes.

The following night, Jack Lundqvist, from Stockholm, Sweden stopped all of the 31 shots he faced to grab the shutout win and Heard opened the scoring 13:12 into the contest with the game winner.

The Ducks led 2-0 after a period adding another pair in the third, including the first of the career of Ben Scruton, the Ducks’ 16-year-old forward from Chicago.

Marks and Chris Wracker fired the other Ducks goals.

This weekend’s games in Blaine will be the first of four against the Moose with the return games wrapping up the regular season at the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena February 21-22.

In between, the Ducks will travel to the AllState Arena in Rosemont, Ill. to play the Chicago Cougars next Thursday, making up a game originally postponed due to weather in January.