For his skaters, Zaniboni split up the ice time among his players as equally as possible, rolling four lines and seeking out shifts as short as 15-20 seconds throughout each game.
For his goaltending, he turned to veteran Jared Young and asked for an exhausting effort.
The formula worked.
Young closed out the playoffs with three shutouts in five games en route to victory in the tournament that pulled together the USPHL Midwest and the USP3HL. The USPHL Midwest is made up of teams from the former Minnesota Junior Hockey League.
“We rode one goalie the whole time,” said Zaniboni, who is also the Ducks’ general manager. “I’ll definitely go on the record and say he’s the best Tier III goalie in the country.”
Young led the Ducks through 11 playoff games, including the last eight in a seven-day stretch. The only “off day” in the last seven included nearly 20 hours on a bus to from Chicago to Marlborough, Massachusetts, where the USPHL was holding all of its championship events.
“We talked to [Young] before the playoffs and told him what our plan was,” Zaniboni said. “He’s our 20-year-old goalie with experience. We were able to run with him and go as far as he could take us.
“The biggest thing we told him was communicate with us when you need rest with practice or whatever.”
Young’s teammates did what they could to keep the workload manageable.
“We don’t give up a ton of chances,” Zaniboni said. “That was a big thing that we heard from tons of scouts. We’d be up 5-nothing with a minute left and guys would still be blocking shots. That was our team all year.”
It proved to be a championship approach.
But it was not easy.
The USPHL started with two rounds of Midwest play to determine which two teams headed east. The Ducks, who went 38-8-2 to finish a close third in the UPSHL Midwest regular season, were pushed to the limit in both best-of-three series, with five of the six games being decided by one goal — including three overtime games.
As one of the top two teams, Dells left Chicago the morning of March 8 and rolled into Marlborough at about 1:30 a.m. March 9.
The team took the ice at 4:30 that afternoon, where it was able to immediately rely on Young. He put up shutouts in a 3-0 win the Hampton Roads Whalers and then in a 5-0 win over the Midwest rival Tri City Icehawks the next day.
The Tri City game was the first of two on March 10. Dells also beat the Jersey Shore Whalers 6-1. The next day, Dells beat the Florida Eels 5-2 and Hampton Roads 5-0 to earn the title and well-deserved rest.
Young finished the 11-game playoff run, which included 43-plus extra minutes of overtime play, with four shutouts, a 1.02 goals-against average and a .963 save percentage.
“He’s a very composed athlete,” Zaniboni said. “He gives the guys in front of him a calming feeling.”
That feeling allowed them to go about sharing their duties in the other part of the championship equation.
Alex Radcliffe and James Williams were among the four players who shared the team lead of nine points, and among the three who were tied at the top with five playoff goals. Sherman Mowery and David Caplan also had nine points. Christian Vella was the other player with five goals.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Categories: Players in the News