By Jim den Hollander / USPHL.com
Midwest West Division
Hudson Havoc (1) vs. Dells Ducks (8)
All games at Hudson Havoc
Friday, March 3, 7 p.m. CST
Saturday, March 4, 7 p.m. CST
Sunday, March 5, 7 p.m. CST (if necessary)
The Hudson Havoc enjoyed a dominant season in the Midwest-West division in 2022-23 and will look to continue the championship path through the playoffs.
Standing in their immediate way is the Dells Ducks, a team that has turned a corner in its recent history but is still miles behind at this point. The Havoc allowed a league least 59 goals in 44 regular season games and the Ducks were able to find the mesh just once in four meetings with the Havoc, finishing 48 points in the rearview mirror.
Because of that, all the pressure is on the division champions to make sure they don’t stumble out of the gate. Ducks’ Head Coach Anthony Rohde has led the team on a massive comeback season. The 27 points collected this year placed them a distant eighth, but it is also nearly a 300 percent improvement on the nine points collected last season.
The Havoc enters confident of moving past the first round, but also aware of the dangers of taking an opponent lightly at the wrong time.
The Havoc dropped just one game since the Christmas Break and a stingy defense/goaltending combination has led the team to 13 shutouts this season – three of them coming against the Ducks. Ironically though, Assistant Coach Marty Dyck said in an email interview it is an aggressive offense that has led to the team’s success.
“This year we’ve worked specificall on our forecheck to be the focal point of our team,” said Dyck. “It’s been relentless most of the year and paid off huge dividends. The best defense is a good offense and when your handling the puck well in the offensive zone, the less chance it gets in the back of your net.”
For the Ducks, success might not necessarily be measure in a series win, but just trying to be as much of an obstacle in the Havoc path as possible.
“They are obviously a great team,” said Rohde, also in an email interview. “They haven’t shown many weaknesses, or any. But, as a team we understand that win or lose we are going to go as hard as we can for 60 minutes. If we can put that full effort in the entire series, you never know what could happen. Hopefully it’s an exciting series to watch.”
There is some interesting playoff history between the two teams. In the USPHL they have met a couple times. In 2019 the Ducks pulled off a massive upset win, taking the series 2-1 but the Havoc made amends the following spring, sending the Ducks home in two games.