The Dells Ducks dropped a pair of home games and slid into the ninth spot in the nine-team United States Premier Hockey League Midwest-West Division this past weekend.
The Minnesota Moose, formerly the Blaine Energy, grabbed a 4-0 shutout on Friday night and then rallied from a 2-1 deficit to pull out a 5-2 win on Saturday for a four-point weekend sweep.
A telling stat heading into the weekend was team penalty kill ratings, where the Moose were ranked second in the Division at just over 90 percent success, and the Ducks ranked at the bottom at just under 80 percent.
That proved out on Friday night, as the Moose collected three of their four goals with an extra attacker, and one of the Ducks penalties came just as a Ducks goal was scored, not only negating the goal, but putting the Ducks a man down.
The Ducks entered the weekend in eighth place in the division, but the Wisconsin Muskies won both games at Hudson against the Havoc to move all of the way up to sixth in the standings. That sets up a huge weekend ahead, as the Muskies will be in town to play three against the Ducks.
Moose 4, Ducks 0
The Ducks managed to stay with the Moose early on Friday, and enjoyed a couple of power play opportunities in the opening period. However, the tide turned when the Ducks went shorthanded for the second time in the game.
While the Moose failed to score on its power play, Leon Taberlet connected about 30 seconds later with the goal that would stand up as the game winner.
Riley Keays added a power play goal with 35 seconds left in the first period and the Moose carried a 2-0 lead into the middle period.
Things could have been much worse, as the Moose held a 31-11 edge in shots in the opening period.
Corbin Moore played in goal in both games for the Ducks and turned in a pair of masterful efforts. Bad breaks and bad efforts in front of him have prevented Moore from hitting the win column this season.
The teams played through a scoreless second period, and despite a 38-17 deficit in shots, the Ducks were still in the contest heading to the final period.
The Ducks had their goal called back with an early period penalty and were shorthanded again when defenseman Nate Ackerman buried the back-breaker with 6:08 to play. Another penalty resulted in another goal, scored by Dylan Gast, with under 4 minutes to go.
Moose 5, Ducks 2
The Ducks were determined to stay out of the penalty box on Saturday night. Overall, the Ducks may not have been successful with that, taking two of three majors called in the game, but the penalty kill turned in a strong effort.
Ironically it was the Moose taking the first penalty as they were charged with a rarely-called infraction in the warm up as one of their players crossed the red line.
The first three goals of the contest all came on power plays, but on this night it was the Ducks scoring two of them.
The home side found itself down when defenseman Brendan Jones moved up from the point to fire one by Moore 2:09 into the middle period to open the scoring.
The Ducks finally found a way past Moose goalie Kevin Hale as leading scorer Stone Stelzl buried one with the Ducks on a two-man advantage.
With a player in the box serving a major, the Moose were twice penalized to go down two skaters and the Ducks took advantage of both for a rare two goals on one power play.
The second goal came from Colton Maynard, who lifted his own rebound into the top part of the net about 3 minutes after Stelzl’s goal. Jake Bevins picked up an assist on Stelzl’s goal. Giovani Mueller and Mario Lorusso collected helpers on the second goal.
Gast took over from there, tying the game with a wrap around goal with 3:31 to go in the middle period before adding another just 12 seconds later to put the Moose in front for good.
Phillip DeSaava added some insurance early in the third and Gast finished off a hat trick with his fourth goal of the weekend with an empty-netter 30 seconds from the final horn.
Big weekend series ahead
The Ducks will move on to play the Muskies with a pair of special events this coming weekend. Friday and Saturday games start at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s game will see the team playing its first ever ‘Pink the Rink’ game in an effort to raise funds for cancer research. The team will donate $1 from each admission fee to a local hospital.
On Sunday, Monk’s at the Wilderness will host its Fourth Annual Dells Ducks Tailgate event. The all-you-can-eat feast will include the famous Monk’s Sliders along with Chippers and Cole Slaw.