Dells Ducks Four Wins At Showcase

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Dells Ducks Four Wins At Showcase October 9, 2012 9:05 AM

The Dells Ducks junior hockey team got to the finish line in different ways at the first Minnesota Junior Hockey League Showcase Tournament of the season at the Pleasant Prairie IcePlex this past weekend.

But the key was, unlike previous weekends, the locals didn’t let anything slip away this time.

As a result, the team played in four hard fought contests and picked up regulation victories in all four.

Despite domination on the ice and on the shot clock, the opposition proved tough to get by each time out.

After using Joey Bower’s late shorthanded goal to get by the host Wisconsin Rampage 6-5 Thursday morning, the Ducks returned Friday night the Ducks were even in the first and third with the Central Wisconsin Saints, but held a 2-1 edge through the middle stanza which made the difference in a narrow 4-3 win.

Saturday afternoon the Ducks appeared on its way to blowing the Chicago Bulldogs out of the arena, up 4-0 in the first minute of the second period, but the Dogs chipped away and suddenly in the fifth minute of the third that lead was trimmed to 4-3.

Dunk Abbott’s powerplay marker with 61 seconds to play finally gave the Ducks a little breathing room down the stretch.

After those paths, the Ducks chose to walk down some kind of weird, borderline haunted trail on Sunday.

Despite manhandling the Wooster (Indiana) Oilers to the tune of a 17-8 first period shots advantage, the Ducks entered the middle period trailing 2-0.

The locals turned up the heat a little more in the middle frame but found itself down another goal early. Finally, Koen Bakker found an opening in the armor of Wooster goaltender Chase Green as the Ducks went past the 50 shot barrier with a period yet to play.

Finally, in the third, the Ducks wore Green down, goals by Abbott and Brady Hefner 53 seconds apart pulling the team even just past the eight minute mark.

Hefner’s second put the Ducks in front to stay and Nick Albergo, who joined the team less than 24 hours before the start of the event and actually met them there, finished a dazzling debut weekend with his third goal of the weekend into an empty Oilers’ cage with just 16 seconds to go.

The tournament is the first of two times this season teams from the Minnesota Division will cross over to play their Great Lakes division rivals.

The Minnesota group held a wide edge overall, winning 25 of the 32 games played, but coach Zaniboni said his group wasn’t taking anything for granted.

“They’re a good hockey club,”Zaniboni said of the Bulldogs. You know, we haven’t faced a team here that I think we have dominated and I think that’s a good sign for the league and it’s a good sign for us, because it’s a good time for us to face adversity and come up with wins.”

Defensively, the team looked solid throughout and in particular on the penalty kill, an group that has had the bar set high by Zaniboni this season.

Against Chicago, the Ducks killed off a five minute major in the first period and actually outchanced the Dogs while a man down. Then, late in the game and up by just a goal, the Ducks faced a stretch of 1:51 down two skaters and got the job done.

“Now-a-day’s in hockey it’s a special teams game and we’ve been working hard on PK and Jake (assistant coach Hebeisen) and bringing Aaron Corbiere (new coach joined the team in past two weeks) in, it really helped out. Our biggest thing is we wanted to collapse everything down low on that last one. We took everything away from the middle of the net and you know, we want our goalies to make saves from the outside.”

The tournament came at a perfect time for the Ducks with a number of new players being eased into the lineup, but the games were still worth two points in the standings, so they couldn’t be taken lightly either.

“As a player, and I find it best as a coach too, once you get guy, just throw him right in the fire and see how they act. Our guys did a really good job. I really think our captain (Kevin Salinas) came out tonight and took some huge, huge draws and that’s why he’s that guy right now.

“I though our ‘D’ did a good job…I thought we carried the puck a little too much – but the end result is we’ve got six points in the last three days and that’s the main goal.

The now 9-4 Ducks head back into Minnesota division play this weekend riding a five-game winning streak and wrapping up a set of 10 straight road contests. The Ducks will enter the most comfortable portion of its schedule in terms of travel, but not in terms of competition.

This weekend the 6-6 Maple Grove Energy will be in town for a trio of contests. Puck drops at 6:30 p.m on both Friday and Saturday nights at the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena with a getaway game to wrap it up on Sunday at noon.

After this weekend, the Ducks will begin to prepare for its lone home showdown with defending league champion Twin Cities Northern Lights the following weekend. Then a week off and another three-game homestand against the Rochester Ice Hawks, the only Minnesota Division team the Ducks have yet to play, on the first weekend of November.

Four teams from the Minnesota Division posted perfect records on the weekend – the first place Northern Lights now 11-0-0-1 on the young season won all four as did the defending league finalist Ice Hawks who jumped to third place overall behind the Ducks with a record of 7-1-0-1 and the Minnesota Owls, now sitting at 5-2.

By Jim DenHollander

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