New Castle Ducks vs. Mackinac Island Moose
SERIES PREVIEW The New Castle Ducks come to the Island for a little playoff hockey with the Moose. During the regular season, the Moose won 4 of the 6 head to head meetings, but 5 of the 6 games were the one-goal margin of victory. Look for an exciting series of games.
GAME #1 Smith in goal for the Ducks, Meloche for the Moose.

As the teams are just building up a sweat, the Moose suffer some poor puck handling and as MacLean loses the puck, its Pederson and Middleton, the two names Moose fans hate to see on the ice, smoking down ice against a solid defenseman, Engblom. Back and forth, until Engblom finally commits, and Pederson now only looking at Meloche, gets it by him for the first goal of the series, and its 1-0 Ducks, with less than 3 minutes gone by.

Dunn and Kurri get 2 minutes each for roughing a minute later. With a bit more open space on the ice, a faceoff in the Moose zone leads to a push up the ice by the Moose, and a nice series of passes, Propp to Engblom to Boutette with a blast to the top shelf past Smith, and Englom is happy to have a part in atoning for the first Duck goal, Boutette very happy with the score, and its 1-1 with just over 5 minutes gone.

Play continues with the Moose spending a bit more quality time down in the Duck end of the ice, getting 3 SOG for every 1 by the Ducks. This advantage finally pays off for the Moose just past the halfway point of the first period, when a line change leads to some confusion by the Ducks, and its Barber to Kurri to Lysiak with a slap shot into the goal.

Right after the faceoff, Smyl is called for charging. The Ducks get a few shots on goal, but nothing of consequence. A little later McCrimmon gets 2 minutes, but the Moose are equally unsuccessful on the powerplay, and the period quickly bleeds away to the first intermission at 2-1 Moose.

2nd period starts with back to back power plays for the Ducks, thanks to penalties by MacLean and O’Connell. The Moose PK units stand tall, and no damage is done. A little later, Walter and Smith scuffle and earn 2 minutes of rest each. After that penalty expires, Nedomansky with a cross-check gives the Moose a 2 minutes advantage, which they squander away, and its still 2-1. O’Reilly and Boutette get some serious punching a little later that stops play, and gives them each 5 minutes of rest. And just before the teams go to the locker rooms, Nedomansky gets called for slashing. A lot of penalties, and no scoring. Still 2-1 Moose.

The Ducks nearly kill the Nedomansky penalty early in the 3rd, but Middleton turns over the puck behind the net, and Napier steals it, works it to a wraparound, and gets the score. 3-1 Moose. Pichette puts the Ducks at disadvantage with a penalty quickly after the goal, and although they kill the penalty, only 16 minutes remaining, and down by 2. A little back and forth, and only a minute later, Watson hits Walter hard, taking the puck away, and the Moose run off on a 2-1 rush, and Watson is rewarded with a nifty pass from Giles, lighting the lamp, making the score 4-1 Moose with just under 15 minutes to play.

A Walter penalty is quickly killed by the Ducks. And a 2 on 1 rush for the Ducks is stopped by Meloche just as the period gets to the 10-minute mark. A lot of back and forth the final 10 minutes, but not much of any import, and the game ends 4-1 Moose.

1st star – Lysiak 1G
2nd = Napier 1G
3rd – Watson 1G

  Moose up 1-0 after winning game 1 by the score 4-1.
GAME #2 Melanson in net for the Moose, Smith for the Ducks.

The Ducks make up for a lack of scoring in game 1 by lighting the lamp on their initial push of the opening faceoff. Bourne to O’Reilly to Kasper, net, goal, 1-0 Ducks. Arean a bit quiet now. Only 18 seconds elapsed.

A few minutes later, Smyl is whistled for tripping, and a feel of unease creeps into the crowd. The Ducks get a bunch shots on goal, but no dice, and just as Smyl gets ready to come out of the box, Pederson to Middleton to Walter and a high shot on the glove side makes it 2-0 Ducks. Argh !!!

Still 14 minutes to go in the 1st. Play continues and Clarke gets called for holding. The Moose take advantage and cut the lead in half when Engblom finds Lysiak open, slap shot in, and its 2-1 Ducks.

7 minutes to go – After a couple minutes Barrett gets called for interference, followed by Pichette just a minute later. The Moose get 3 minutes of 5 on 4 and 5 on 3 advantage, and in spite of a bunch of shots, Smith turns them all away , and a pumped up crowd settles back into their chairs. Finally, just before intermission, Bourne also gets called for interference. Its 2-1 Ducks.

2nd period opens up with 1:59 left on the penalty. The Moose quickly move the puck into the offensive zone. A flurry of shots stopped by Smith, but unfortunately he is unable to control them, and the 3rd rebound is captured by Lysiak and punched in, tying the game at 2, only 28 seconds into the 2nd period. And the crowd is alive again.

A couple of minutes later, Giles and Barrett get tangled up and we get a couple minutes of 4 on 4 action, but no effect to the score. A little later, after dumping it into the Moose zone, Clarke digs the puck out, passes to Barrett, to Clarke, over to Walter, and a confused Melanson never sees the puck fly past and into the net. Ducks back on top, 3-2. 11 minutes to go.

As the Moose figure what to try next, a bungled pass to Smith is captured by O’Reilly who takes off on a solo breakaway, and he’s too much for Melanson, and its a quick letdown for the Moose, back to 2 goals behind, 4-2, only 15 seconds later.

The crowd is happy to see the Moose stop the bleeding for a while. Just past the halfway point, Propp makes a steal during a Duck line change, and a quick entry to the Duck zone sees the puck back in Propp’s control, and he blasts one in high, past Smith. Lead back down to 1, 4-3 Ducks with a little over 6 minutes to go.

An uneasy crowd, happy to be back in the game, but worried about the porous defense. Play continues a bit, and then Dunn mishandles the puck, the Moose move to the offensive zone, and Napier finds Propp again, shot tips off the stick of Smith, but finds the back of the net. All tied at 4 now.

Much happier arena. 101 seconds left in the 2nd. As the somewhat frenzied crowd takes inventory and plans what to get at intermission, the Duck aggressiveness strikes again, as Schoenfeld blasts Dunlop and separates him from the puck, Bozek finds it and takes off with Walter, Bozek to Walter to Bozek into the net past an overwhelmed Melanson, and the Ducks back up by 1. 5-4, 28 seconds left. Aw crap.

And just when you think its safe to hit the restroom to take a leak, the Ducks grab the faceoff and race into the Moose zone, Middleton to Barrett back to Middleton, BOOM, and there is no joy on the Island as we finally go to intermission, Ducks 6, Moose 4.

With the barn now a 5 alarm blaze, the crowd hopes the wind will turn again, and let the Moose back in the game. They don’t have to wait long to see which way the wind is blowing, as just a couple minutes into the 3rd, its a Napier shot, rebound grabbed by Propp, and a nifty wraparound to cut the lead to 1. Hat trick for Propp.

Like kids at a bonfire, the crowd hopes for a glimmer, like kids looking for one more marshmallow to roast before the fire goes out. Tick, tick tick, now we are past 10 minutes, 9, 8, and then just like the jokester throwing a firecracker into the fireplace, Engblom fires a hope and a prayer at goal, and it finds a path through the crowd. BOOM !!, and the crowd has new life. We have, once again, a new game, all even, 6-6, 7 minutes left.

Just before the 5 minute mark, things really get pumped up when Smith gets called for tripping, and the Moose have a 2 minute advantage. The Moose throw a bunch of rubber at the net, but Smith stops most, and his team mates block the rest. We head past the 3 minutes mark still tied. Both teams get a number of respectable shots on goal, but both shellshocked goalies are up to the task, and we head to overtime, tied at 6.

OVERTIME – The Moose win the faceoff and dump it in, and the Ducks come out with the puck. As O’Reilly enters the neutral zone, he is crushed by Barber, who along with Kurri and O’Connel rush into the Duck end of the rink. It’s a 3 on 1, and Smith never had a chance. Its O’Connell to Kurri to Barber, smack into the net. 7-6 Moose, and the Island celebrates.

  Down by 2 goals multiple times in game 2, the Moose maintain their never say die attitude, and pull one out in overtime.
On to New Castle for game 3The Ducks trail the Mackinac Island Moose 2 games to 0 as the series moves to The Duck Pond. The Ducks desperately need a win, in their first ever home playoff game, to get back into the series.
GAME #3 More than 18,000 crazed Ducks fans wearing masks (of course) and screaming QUACK QUACK QUACK welcomed the home team as they came on to the ice for the first ever playoff game played at The Duck Pond.

FIRST PERIOD- The Ducks struck first when Rick Middleton’s slapshot was deflected by Marian Stastny past Rollie Melanson and, at 3:13, New Castle had a 1-0 lead as bedlam ensued at The Duck Pond.
Less than three minutes later the Moose quieted the home crowd when the great Jarri Kurri put the puck past Billy Smith, assisted by Tom Lysiak – and it was tied at 1-1. It was a POWER PLAY goal by Kurri with Stastny off for interference
New Castle remained fired up and less than a minute later, Ryan Walter laid big hit in center ice and then got the puck over to D Dave Pichette who sent it to Walter. Walter drove the zone and sent it to Clarke who gave it to Bozek who SCOOOOOREEEED! The Ducks regained the lead 2-1 with 7:08 gone in the first period.
At 9:34 of the period, Ducks D Harold Snepts drew a 5 minute major for cross checking. Mackinac Island pummelled Billy Smith during the power play taking SEVEN shots on goal but Smith stopped all of them! And it was the Ducks who almost scored shorthanded when they got a 2 on 1 and Terry O’Reilly’s point blank shot was stopped by Melanson.
With 1:51 left in the period, Lysisak goes off for tripping. The Ducks press with 4 shots on goal but Melanson stops all of them as the period ends.
Despite being outshot 12-9 in the period the Ducks went to the locker room leading 2-1.

SECOND PERIOD – The Ducks looked to add to their 2-1 lead as the second period began- and add they did as Marian Stastny won a faceoff in the Moose zone and got it over to Pederson who passed to Middleton who found Stastny in front. HE SHOOTS AND HE SCORES! Second goal of the game for Stastny and the Ducks lead 3-1!

At 5:18 Bobby Clarke gets 2 minutes for boarding and an enraged Clarke refuses to go to the penalty box, earning a 10 minute misconduct. MAC wastes little time on the power play as Lysiak scores on a wraparound and it’s a one goal game again. Ducks 3 Moose 2. Its beginning to feel a bit like Game 2 when the Ducks kept losing the lead and eventually the game. Would this be different tonight?
Well all season its been Pederson and Middleton for the Ducks and it’s the two of them on a 2 on 1 against Melanson. Middleton over to Pederson who goes right in on goal and SCORES! 4-2 Ducks at 8:57.
A little over 2 minutes later the Ducks #1 line continues to torture the Moose. Following a turnover in center ice, Middleton shoots it in and Stastny wins a race for the puck and throws it back to Middleton who takes a slap shot and SCORES!! 5-2 Ducks all of a sudden!
MAC presses to come back and Kurri and Barber get a 2 on 1 as Barber goes right in on Billy Smith. WHAT A SAVE by the Ducks goalie and it stays 5-2. Brian Engblom gets a double minor at 17:32 for cross checking. The Ducks fail to score with the man advantage but go to the locker room with a comfortable 5-2 lead, after outshooting the Moose 15-6 in the second period.

THIRD PERIOD- Engblom’s penalty carries over at the start of the period. Ryan Walter takes the opening face off and gets it over to Pederson who passes to Stastny- back to Walter for a slap shot – stick high on Melanson and IN THE NET! ITS A POWER PLAY GOAL and the Ducks now lead 6-2.

Trailing by 4, MAC pours it on and it seems like one of their two incredible scoring lines (Propp-Dunlop-Napier Lysiak- Barber-Kurri) are always on ice, double and triple shifting. Sure enough it pays off as a Mike O’Connell rebound goes to Dunlop who drops it for a charging Brad Park who SCORES! And now it’s 6-3 with more than 13 minutes to go.
MAC keeps pressing but the Ducks tighten their defense, even as they lose star D Richie Dunn for much of the period with an elbow injury. But in the end Smith is just too much as he stops everything that MAC can throw at him. The Moose have a 12-9 edge in SOG in period 3 but the FINAL SCORE: DUCKS 6 MOOSE 3

1- Stastny 2G 2 A 4 PTS
2- Middleton 1G 3A 4 PTS
3- Pederson 1G 3 A 4 PTS

That line was the story of this game. Smith and Melanson each made 27 saves.

  The Ducks get their first-ever playoff win and are right back in the Series, as they now trail 2 games to 1. Game 4 will be played tomorrow night at The Duck Pond.

The Ducks trail the Moose 2 games to 1 with Game 4 coming up at the Duck Pond. The Ducks hope to even the series before going back to Mackinaw Island for Game 5.

GAME #4 EIGHTEEN THOUSAND MASKED FANS (doing their best to social distance) are on hand at The Duck Pond for this huge Game 4 of the Quarter Finals.

PERIOD ONE – A tightly played period as both teams seem to be feeling each other out. There is some rough stuff going on as well. At 6:06 Park and Nedomansky go off for roughing. Then at 8:52 Stan Smyl and Terry O’Reilly drop the gloves, each getting a fighting major. The first big break of the game comes at 13:49 when Watson goes off for interference and the Ducks have the first Power Play of the game. New Castle takes advantage as Rick Middleton is leveled behind the net but then gets up regains the puck and its a wraparound GOAL – behind Moose goalie Gilles Meloche – and New Castle leads 1-0. Propp and Barrett go off for roughing a minute later but there is no more scoring in the period. New Castle has the 10-4 SOG advantage and go to the locker room leading 1-0.

As the period gets underway Moose D Brian Engblom is called for slashing. Mike Borzenski argues the call but to no avail. Its another Duck power play – and its another POWER PLAY GOAL. Just 13 seconds into the power play, Bobby Clarke wins the faceoff gets it to Walter who sends it to Clarke back to John Barrett at the point. He shoots low and HE SCORES! The defenseman Barrett, with his first goal of the playoffs and its a big one. 2-0 New Castle. The goal seems to light a fire under the Moose. They storm right back into the Ducks zone. Billy Smith gives up a rebound. He’s out of position- Brian Propp gets the puck and puts it in the net, his FOURTH goal of the playoffs. And now its a hockey game at 2-1 Ducks. Midway through the period the Moose have a great opportunity to tie it when Bill Barber and Mark Napier get a 2 on 1 but Smith makes the terrific save and the score remains the same. The second period ends with NEW ahead 2-1, as the Moose outshoot the Ducks in the period by 10-5.

THIRD PERIOD – Can the Ducks hold on? Things start off well. With Greg Smith in the sin bin for tripping, the Ducks score their THIRD Power Play goal of the game, just as time runs out on the power play. Clarke again wins a big faceoff gets it to Currie who gets it to Yvon Lambert who takes the slapshot. Meloche is screened and never sees the puck until it is behind him. THREE-ONE Ducks!
The Moose press to get back in the game and for the second time it’s a 2 on 1 rush for Barber and Napier and for the second time Smith stops it with a great save. As the midway point of the period approaches Rick Middleton knocks MacKechnie off the puck and pushes it ahead to Marian Stastny. ITS A BREAKAWAY – end to end rush for the Right Winger and he puts the puck past Meloche! FOUR-ONE DUCKS as Stastny scores his third of the playoffs. Now the Moose are in real trouble and things are about to get worse when Brad Park gets called for a double minor for roughing at 9:43. The calls are not going the Moose’s way and Coach Borzenski is irate (“upset with that call”). It is yet another Ducks power play. Walter wins the faceoff and gets it to Pederson -over to Stastny- back to Pederson who shoots and SCOOOOREEESS! His third of the playoffs and now New Castle has a seemingly insurmountable 5-1 lead!
But this Moose squad has lots of fire power and is resilient. With less than 3 minutes to go Bill Barber takes the puck from behind the net moves in front and with Smith screens he SCORES! It’s 5-2 and there is a glimmer of hope in Mooseville. And that hope increases a little more than a minute later when Tom Lysiak head mans the puck to Smyl who gets it to Watson who shoots from the point – TIPPED IN BY PAUL MACLEAN – his first of the playoffs – and suddenly it is 5-3! The Duck Pond crowd is getting quiet and neverous as the Moose pull Meloche for the extra skater with 55 seconds to go. Brad Park off the faceoff gets a clean shot at Smith but its a SAVE then Propp shoots..save…MacLean with a shot..SAVE! Billy Smith keeps the Moose from scoring again and the Ducks hold on for a huge 5-3 win.

1- Stastny 1 G 1 A
2- Lambert 1 G 1A
3- Pederson 1G

The Ducks were 4 for 5 on the Power Play and that was the story of the game. The Moose had ZERO power plays, enraging Coach Borzenski, who felt that the Refs were blowing the whistle in favor of the home team.

MacLean and Ducks D Dave Pichette fought in the third period, with Pichette getting a misconduct along with a major. It forced the Ducks to play with only 5 defenseman for the last 14 minutes of the game – a factor that seemed to help Mackinac Island down the stretch when the Ducks allowed the two late goals.

  New Castle wins both games at home, after the Moose won both on The Island – and so now the series is tied at 2-2 with Game 5 coming up on Mackinac Island. Both teams have had some big scorers with MAC’s Brian Propp and Tom Lysiak with four goals each. For NEW, Ryan Walter, Rick Middleton and Barry Pederson each have 3 goals. Middleton also has 5 assists giving him 8 points in the four games, the most points for a player on either team.

Series tied at 2-2. It’s the ever-important game 5 at Bullwinkle Arena on Mackinac Island. Sold out, packed, loud. Here we go.
Game played head to head – internet – Ducks hosted.

GAME #5 Both teams tight coming out on the ice. Very few shots. But the 2nd shot of the game, by Bozek, sneaks by Melanson, and it’s the Ducks up 1-0.

Tight play continues until Park is sent to the box for slashing, a big one, 4 minutes, and the crowd is tense. But Melanson and the defense is up to the task. Most shots never get close, and the 1st period continues 1-0 until intermission. Only 5 shots on goal for each team.

2nd period – Things loosen up, and the offenses get more scoring opportunities. Frustration on the ice manifests into a skirmish between Watson and O’Reilly, with O’Reilly losing some blood. Both get 5 minutes to cool down. Before those penalties expire, Lysiak gets called for holding, and the Ducks get a man advantage for a couple minutes. The Moose kill that disadvantage, and very quickly get some hope when Snepsts gets called for tripping, and the Moose get a real opportunity to score. But the Ducks are equally adept at the PK, and the score remains stuck at 1-0.

Just past the halfway mark, Lysiak gets called for tripping, and the mood shifts. this time the Ducks are up for the opportunity, and Pederson blasts one in, and the Ducks are up 2-0.

A few minutes later, its Pichette called for hooking. The Moose take advantage and MacLean finds an opening, and the lead is cut to 1, 2-1.

The shots continue to fly, but no more scoring, and the period ends 2-1.

3rd period opens and Schoenfeld gets lazy, and commits high sticking, the 4 minute version. The Moose pound Smith in goal, but he is a stone wall, holding off the entire 4 minutes, and just as the crowd settles down, MacLean surprises everybody with a laser beam shot, tying the game at 2 with 14 minutes left in the game. A wildly crazy crowd is still standing and chanting when Kasper sticks in a dagger, sneaking one in. Its 3-2. A few minutes later, Currie comes by and twists the dagger, nailing another shot, and its 4-2 Ducks with just under 12 minutes to go. Talk about taking the wind out of the Moose sails.

The Moose try as they might, and shell Smith, as the Ducks play very conservative, but no dice, and the Ducks escape the Island with a huge road win.

1st star – MacLean 2G
2nd – Currie 1G
3rd = Pederson 1G

  Ducks up 3-2, heading home for a chance to win and advance to the Conference Finals.

It’s Game 6 at The Duck Pond as New Castle has a chance to win the series and get their first ever playoff round win. It wont be easy against a tough Moose team that battled them even throughout the regular season. It is head to head action thanks to Mike B!

GAME #6 FIRST PERIOD: Both teams are feeling each other out in the early going but the Ducks strike first when Captain Bobby Clarke took a pass from Ryan Walter and got the puck past Gilles Meloche to make it 1-0 with 7:48 gone in the period. Less than 2 minutes later, the Ducks struck again as Terry O’Reilly beat Meloche – a huge goal to put the Ducks up by 2. The pattern of this series as often been an early lead for the Ducks with the Moose coming back and this period followed that pattern- when with 26 seconds to go Paul MacLean put the puck past Billy Smith to make it 2-1. For McLean it was his 4th goal in 6 games. And the teams went to the locker room with NEW leading 2-1.

Another tight checking period with neither team getting much room to operate. The tight checking led to a fight at 4:36 between Duane Pichette of the Ducks and Jimmy Watson of the Moose. Moments later Moose defenseman Brad Park came across the blue line and fired on goal -AND HIT THE POST – the clang audible all the way in the upper seats. But the Ducks still led 2-1. Then at 12:06 Ducks Steve Bozek got called for hooking and the Moose went n the power play – but they could manage only one shot on goal as the NEW penalty killers continue to excel. It looked like the teams would go to the locker room with the same 2-1 score but as the clock ticked down Marian Stastny took the puck away fed it to Middleton – back to Stastny over to Pederson and then back to Stastny who SHOOTS AND SCOOOOREEES! A huge goal by the rightwinger – his 4th of the playoffs with Pederson getting his 5th assist. And with 2:34 left in the second the Ducks lead was now 3-1. 17 seconds later Brian Propp went off for holding and the Ducks had a power play. MAC staved it off and had a great scoring chance in the final seconds when Mike O Connells shot was turned away by Smith. 3-1 Ducks after two.

THIRD PERIOD: 20 minutes to go for a playoff win as the 18000 masked Ducks fans shouted the QUACK chant and were going crazy. The Moose come out flying and their #1 line is not giving up. Lysiak starts a rush gives it over toi Kurri who passes it over to Propp. Propp winds up and shoots and SCOOREESS! Smith should have had it but he never saw it. As Brian Propp gets his FIFTH goal of the playoffs! 3-2 at 2:14 with almost the entire period remaining! The Moose are charged up and the Ducks fans are nervous. The teams continue to battle as Battlin Billy Smith continues his outstanding goaltending. THen with just over 6 minutes to go, Barry Pederson wins a faceoff in the MAC zone. Lambert takes the puck and sends it to D Pichette who sends it over cross ice to D Barrett. Barrett shoots and there is Lambert in front for the Tip IN. GOAL! GOAL! Yvon Lambert! Maybe the biggest goal in Ducks history as they now lead 4-2 with 6:03 remaining. Fourteen seconds later a huge break for MAC as Bobby Bourne goes off for 2 with a holding penalty. But the NEW PK continues to excel as MAC can manager only 1 shot on goal. As soon as the power play ends however, MacLean barely misses on a deflection but it is still 4-2 , now with only around 4 minutes remaining. WIth quick shifts, the Ducks defense is fresh and MAC cant penetrate much. MAC pulls the goalie with a little more than a minute remaining and press hard in the Ducks zone. Smith makes three saves in a row and thats it. Time runs out. 4-2 the final. The Ducks will advance to the Semi Finals!

1- NEW Stastny 1G
2- NEW O’Reilly 1G
3- NEW Lambert 1G

Shots on goal were about even with MAC holding a 24-23 edge. Ducks won 27 faceoffs to 18 for MAC and the Ducks had 17 scoring chances to only 4 for MAC. Both teams were 0-3 on powerplays.

SERIES SUMMARY The Ducks win four in a row after losing the first two on The Island. WIth the 4-2 series win they go on to the Semi-Finals to play the winner of the North Carolina-Philadelphia series. Congratulations to Mike Borzenski and his Mackinac Island Moose on a great season.