The Point Mallard Ducks 18U team wrapped up their season at the Motown Classic in Detroit, MI over President’s Day Weekend. The tournament featured a high level of hockey with teams from across the U.S. and Canada. The Ducks showed well, playing some of their best hockey of the season. They posted 2-1-1 record, a 3rd place finish and missed out on the championship game by the slimmest of margins. “I’m really proud of how the team played this weekend; from day one we committed to getting better, both as individuals and as a team. The way we competed this weekend shows that this group took that motto to heart, and worked extremely hard to make it happen” Coach Flynn said after the tournament.
The Ducks opened the tournament against the Lansing Spartans (MI). Mac Fairbanks (Athens, AL) and Tristan Swanson (Decatur, AL) split time in goal during the game and both made some very timely saves to keep it scoreless into the final minutes. The Spartans finally solved the Duck’s goaltenders with 1:29 left, and added an empty netter for a 2-0 win. The coaching staff was really happy with the effort but disappointed in the result, as Coach Flynn elaborated, “What’s really difficult about tournaments is playing in a game like this, where we felt we deserved a better outcome but made one too many mistakes and ultimately don’t have anything to show for it. The difficult part then becomes being ready to play another game against a quality opponent. In order to stay focused on our ultimate goal, we challenged ourselves to be mentally tough, not feel sorry for ourselves and be ready to give the same, if not an even better, effort in game two.”
The Ducks faced another tough test against the Kitchner Jr. Rangers (Ontario, Canada) in their next game, and the offense finally got on the board. Captain Sage Harper (Huntsville, AL) opened the scoring with a wrist shot from the slot. Despite Kitchner tying the game shortly after, the Ducks stayed hungry and took a 2-1 lead when J.J. Landers (Memphis, TN) finished off a 2-on-1 rush just over halfway through the first period. The lead held until the third period when the Ducks took some untimely penalties and spent almost half the period killing penalties. Kitchner took advantage of their opportunities, and scored two goals within a minute to take a 3-2 lead. However, just :15 later, the Ducks responded as Collin Brown (Huntsville, AL) tied the game at 3. The teams traded chances throughout the remainder of the game. Mac Fairbanks stood tall, and the Ducks salvaged a much-needed point. Coach Flynn expressed mixed emotions following the game, “I’m happy the offense is starting to click, and with how we responded to the challenge of losing a lead. We showed a lot of character by killing some big penalties in the third. Unfortunately, a lot of the adversity we faced was self- inflicted, and we made the game a lot more difficult on ourselves than had we been able to play at even strength. We have talked about playing with discipline all year, and it got away from us a little bit at a very big point in our season. I’m happy with how we responded, but at the same time I wish we had given ourselves a better chance to get two points instead of just holding on for one.”
Following a forfeit by Kensington Valley (MI), the Ducks’ record stood at 1-1-1 as they entered the final day of the tournament. In order to advance, the Ducks needed a win against the Pittsburgh Selects AAA, and some help from the game between Lansing and Kitchner. After giving up a goal just :16 in, Tristan Swanson stopped everything else and the Ducks scored five unanswered goals for a dominating 5-1 win. Tyler Trombly got the Ducks on the board, Sage Harper scored the game winner, Collin Brown and Colton Castillo (2) (Huntsville, AL) finished out the scoring in what was the team’s most complete game of the season. After waiting around to find out their fate, the Ducks ultimately did not advance to the championship round. Coach Flynn offered some post-game thoughts; “We knew we needed to win today to give ourselves a chance to advance, and we knew we probably needed to win by multiple goals in case it came down to a tie-breaker. Everything else was out of our control, so we couldn’t afford to waste energy worrying about it. The team did everything we asked of them today, and for the most part all weekend. We have nothing to hang our heads about, and I want everyone to be proud of how we played this weekend, I know I am.”
The Ducks end the season with a 19-11-7 record, and are currently ranked 110th out of 384 teams listed in the myhockey.com rankings (18U Tier II). We want to thank Coach Ralph Drensek for all his help over the past two years. Also, a big thank you to all our players and their families for their dedication and support of the Point Mallard Ducks and the Huntsville Chargers throughout their careers. Lastly, we want to extend some big congratulations, and wish the best of luck to all our players that will be graduating high school and moving on to college next year.
The 18U Ducks will be holding tryouts for the 2017-2018 season this spring. Please check back for more information.