New Castle Ducks vs. Mackinac Island
SERIES PREVIEW The Moose battle the Ducks for the Conference Title. Last year the Ducks won a quarterfinal matchup 4 games to 2 against these same Moose, or Moose’s,….. whatever. This season, the Moose look for a little payback in hopes of advancing to the Cup Final.
GAME #1 Although we didn’t expect much scoring by either team, given the quality of the goalies, Smith and Melanson, the Ducks surprise everyone with a quick score early off a faceoff in the Moose zone. Walter wins a faceoff and Walter fires one through a mess of bodies, past Melanson, who never saw the puck, and its 1-0 Ducks just 2 minutes in.

4 minutes later, it’s the Moose on a line change and as the mayhem of a line change takes place, it’s Smyl with a drop pass to Kurris and a low slapper zips past Smith, and it’s tied 1-1 only 6 minutes into the games. So much for all this defense.

The Ducks get a little sloppy and take a couple of penalties which they effectively kill. Then Eloranta and Propp get whistled for a little scuffle, forcing some 4 on 4 action. Apparently, to the Moose advantage with the open ice, and off a faceoff in the Duck zone, Smyl connecting with the back of the net, giving the Moose a 2-1 advantage with 4 minutes left in the first.

Some good back and forth play results in a strong hit by Smyl knocking the puck away from Bourne, and Napier to Propp, a shot deflected by Smyl, and the Moose are rolling now, up 3-1 with 2 minutes to go in the 1st. 2 minutes later we go to intermission at 3-1 Moose.

2nd period sees that strong defensive play we expected. In the midst of all that, the Moose kill off 3 minors, and the Ducks kill off 1. Both teams with a few opportunities to score, but the goalies are focused and perfect. We head to the 3rd still at 3-1 Moose.

3rd period sees a continuation of the strong defense that emerged in the 2nd period. Much cleaner play as neither team gets nailed for a penalty. The clock melts down to under 2 minutes when the Ducks finally get control and pull Smith for a last-ditch push. One missed shot results in a nifty pass from Engblom to Smyl as he races through the neutral zone and finds the empty net for the final goal, 4-1 Moose. Hats rain on the ice and after a short delay to clean things up, the clock quickly winds down to 0:00, and the home team fans celebrate. Do the Bullwinkle shuffle.

1st star – Smyl 3G hat trick
2nd star – Melanson 39 saves
3rd star – Kurri 1G

Game 1 behind us now. Games 2 and 3 scheduled for Sunday night, head to head, subject to internet and software co-operation.

Moose up 1 game to 0 at the outset.

GAME #2 Game 2 of the Conference Finals. Moose lead the Ducks 1 game to 0.

Ducks rebound from game 1 loss early with goals from Ramsay and Stastny to make it 2-0 only 5 minutes in. Moose answer 5 minutes later to cut the lead to 1, and get some life into the crowd. 2 penalties by the Moose put them on the defensive 6 minutes of the remaining 10 minutes in the period, but the PK unit is up to the task and the teams go to intermission wit the Ducks up 2-1

2nd period sees a repeat of the 1st, with the Ducks scoring (Pederson) just seconds into the period. Moose bounce back just a minute later when Smyl scores to make it 3-2. The next 20 minutes are all Ducks as they control the pace and get goals from Pederson, Lindstrom, Halward, and Middleton, making it 7-2 with 10 minutes left in the game. The Moose get a little momentum back with goals from Napier and Terrion just seconds apart, to cut the lead to 3 with 8 minutes to go. The tank runs empty thought, and Middleton ends the scoring for the Ducks with 2 minutes to go, to make the final 8-4 Ducks.

1st star – Pederson 2G 4pts
2nd – Middleton 2G 3pts
3rd – Stastny 1G 3pts

  The series goes back to New Castle tied at 1 game each.

The Ducks and Moose are tied at 1 game apiece as the Series shifts to New Castle’s Duck Pond. New Castle and Mackinac Island played each other close all year and this series has continued that way. It’s head-to-head hockey action in New Castle…

GAME #3 The Moose come out firing as Mark Napier gets his 3rd of the playoffs at 12:53 to make it 1-0. Less than 2 minutes later, defenseman Brian Engblom puts the puck behind Billy Smith and it’s 2-0 Moose. But New Castle has a high-powered offense and their #1 line does it again – as Ryan Walter scores at 17:53 and Barry Pederson 40 seconds later as the Ducks tie it at 2-2. The craziness continues when SIXTEEN SECONDS later Napier scores his second of the game and the teams go to the locker room with the Moose leading 3-2.
The second period is a tight-checking affair and the score remains 3-2 as the clock winds down. Then NCD’s Bobby Bourne scores at 16:26, his first of the playoffs, and the game is tied once again. The goal lights a fire under the Ducks and 1:33 later it’s Steve Bozek, taking a pass from Bourne, and scoring to make it 4-3 New Castle after two periods.
In the third, the Moose tie it up once again (4-4) as their top goal scorer Stan Smyl strikes at 1:34 – his NINTH of the playoffs! Not to be outdone, the Duck’s own top scorer, Barry Pederson, gets #11 at 13:46 and the Ducks are back on top 5-4! The Moose are pressing for the tieing goal when defensive forward Craig Ramsay gets an unassisted goal for a huge insurance score as the Ducks take a 6-4 lead. The goal turned out to be the game-winner- when the Moose pulled their goalie and Tom Lysiak scored with 21 seconds to go to make it 6-5. But the Moose could not put another one past Billy Smith and the game ended with the Ducks breathing a sigh of relief and a 2-1 series lead.THREE STARS:
1- NCD Pederson 2 G
2- MAC Napier 2 G
3- NCD Ryan Walter 1G 1 A

The Ducks outshot the Moose 36-33 as Rollie Melanson made 30 saves for MAC. MAC had the shot advantage in the frenzied third period, 14-11, but Billy Smith (28 saves) withstood the charge for his 5th win of the playoffs

NCD won 65.5% of the faceoffs Ryan Walter and Bobby Clarke each winning 14.

GAME #4 The Ducks look to go up 2 games before their quacking fans at the Pond. And NCD strikes first as Rick Middleton gets his 10th of the playoffs, at 7:33, to make it 1-0. The Moose turn things up a notch and their great winger Jari Kurri scores (#6) to tie it at 12:53. Less than 3 minutes later, Brian Propp scores and MAC takes a 2-1 lead after one.
In the second period, the Moose come out flying. Greg Terrion scores at 5:33 to make it 3-1. Then Paul MacLean, at 7:02, makes it 4-1. The Ducks crowd is quiet but they would soon get noisy again as their high-powered offense goes to work. At 9:58, checking line forward Steve Kasper makes it 4-2 with his second goal of the playoffs. Then at 12:18 Marian Stastny beats Melanson and suddenly it is 4-3. As the clock winds down on the period, the Ducks go into the Moose zone and Rick Middleton gets his second of the game, with 46 seconds remaining, to TIE IT AT 4-4 after two.
The third period starts with the Ducks on a power play, resulting from a minor to Pat Price with 29 seconds left in the second period. On the power play, somehow the Moose let Ryan Walter get ahead of the field and Moose Defenseman Brian Engblom drags him down from behind. IT IS A PENALTY SHOT! FOUR FOUR GAME THIRD PERIOD. WOW. And Walter takes advantage as he beats Melanson on the penalty shot to put the Ducks ahead 5-4! Four minutes later, New Castle gets a big boost from an unexpected source as defenseman Doug Halward scores from the point to give New Castle a 6-4 lead with 15:59 to go. The Moose are flying now – and Brian Propp is flying as he gets a BREAKAWAY – he SHOOTS AND SCOOOOREEES and the Moose are back to within one, with 12:47 remaining. The action is fast and furious as the Moose press for the tying goal but at 13:55 Marian Stastny scores his second of the game, and ninth of the playoffs, to make it 7-5. The Ducks defense rises to the occasion the rest of the way and Billy Smith makes save after save and the game ends with the final score of 7-5, giving the Ducks a surprising 3-1 lead in the series.THREE STARS:
1- NCD Stastny 2G 1 A 3 PTS
2- NCD Middleton 2G
3- NCD Halward 1G 2 A 3 PTS

Barry Pederson had 3 assists. MAC outshot NCD 35-33 as Smith made 30 saves. The Ducks again had the edge in faceoffs winning 54%, with Clarke winning 14 of 20.

  New Castle wins both games at home and the series will now go back to Mackinac Island for Game 5 on Wednesday. During the regular season, the Duck’s #1 line of Walter -Pederson-Middleton averaged more than 2 goals per game. They have picked right up where they left off in the playoffs, scoring 28 goals so far in 10 games. Pederson and Middleton each have 11 and Walter 6. Adding to the Ducks arsenal, Marian Stastny has scored 9 goals in 10 games. The Moose’s Stan Smyl also had 9 in 9 games.

Backs against the wall, the Moose get back home and hope to stay alive, down 3 games to 1 versus the Ducks

GAME #5 After 10 minutes of scoreless play, and a penalty kill by each team, the Moose take advantage of a Halward tripping penalty to get their zero off the board when Lysiak gets a PP goal. 3 minutes later it’s Smyl on an even-strength goal, and the Moose are up 2-0. The Ducks kill one more penalty and we go to intermission 2-0.

2nd period sees both teams kill off 2 penalties successfully. in between, pretty even SOG, with only one goal scored, by MacLean. Off to the 3rd period with the Moose up 3-0.

Ducks crank up the aggressive play and it costs them, with 2 penalties and 2 PP goals for the Moose. Lysiak and Kurri, making it 5-0. Lysiak adds a meaningless goal for his hat trick late in the period to make it 6-0 at the final horn.

1st star – Melanson 29 save shutout
2nd – Lysiak 3G
3rd – Kurri 1G 3pts

  Moose head off to the Duck Pond for game 6 and a shot to even up the series.
Ducks in the driver seat at 3 games to 2.New Castle leads the series 3 games to 2 and has a chance to win the Conference Finals on their home ice. The Ducks want to avoid a trip back to Mackinac Island where they have lost 2 of 3 games.
GAME #6 The tension is high at the Duck Pond as these two rivals face off in the critical Game 6. The Ducks draw first blood at 3:48 when Captain Bobby Clarke scores his 3rd of the playoffs, assisted by Stastny and Harold Snepts. It’s a tight-checking period although the Ducks are dominating, peppering Roland Melanson with shot after shot. The shot barrage pays off at 13:28 when Willy Lindstrom scores, assisted by Clarke and Barrett. 2-0 Ducks. Then, only 16 seconds later, it’s Ryan Walter putting the puck past Melanson. A back-breaking goal that puts the Ducks ahead 3-0 after one. NCD outshot MAC 16-9 in the period.
It’s a long way back now for the Moose and things don’t get easier when Clarke scores his SECOND of the game at 7:29 to make it 4-0. The Ducks fans are now in a frenzy looking to celebrate the team’s first-ever conference championship. But at 12:56 Mark Napier quiets the crowd with his 5th of the playoffs to make it 4-1 and put the Moose back in it. Once again, though, the Ducks, answer the call as Andre Savard scores his first of the playoffs at 16:09 to restore the four-goal lead after two periods.
The Moose try to put the pressure on in the third and Terry Ruskowski scores at 7:33 to make it 5-2 and give the Mac Islanders life. But NCD is playing tight defense all game and Billy Smith is outstanding in goal. MAC is held to only 9 shots in the third period, Smith ends up with 27 saves, and the Ducks are the winners by the final score of 5 to 2.THREE STARS:
1- NCD Clarke 2G 1 A 3 PTS
2- NCD Lindstrom 1G 1 A 2 PTS
3- NCD Savard 1 G

Melanson made 30 saves for MAC as the Ducks had a 35-29 SOG advantage. Once again the Ducks dominated faceoffs winning 61% including 12 of 16 from Ryan Walter. The Ducks shadowed Jari Kurri with Craig Ramsey and Stan Smyl with Bobby Clarke and the moves paid off as neither sniper scored. Smyl had a -3 for the game.

SERIES SUMMARY The Ducks win the series 4 games to 2 and are the Conference Champions. They will now go on to play the Cap Jack Rangers for the Stanley Cup.
Congratulations to Mike Borzenski and his Mackinac Island Moose on a great season. It’s the second straight season that the Ducks have knocked the Moose out of the playoffs, so the Moose will be looking for revenge during the 83-84 season.