The Dells Ducks from the USPHL Premier Midwest-West Division have been working hard in practice since Thanksgiving looking for some big wins before the Christmas Break.
They have been handed an extra assignment as well from Head Coach Jeff Worlton and there have been no complaints.
Worlton has coached a number Tier 2 and Tier 3 junior programs over the past 12 seasons and he has always made manning the Salvation Army kettles a part of his team's responsibilities.
“I've done it everywhere I've been no matter which league, I've always done it,” said the coach of taking part in the Salvation Army's famous Christmas fundraising campaign.
“I just think it's a good opportunity for our guys to get out and do some community service and it's a good cause. You're helping less fortunate people. I think hockey players are some of the more fortunate people. I just think it's a good thing to do and they always need people. It's a good opportunity.”
Standing in the cold, ringing the bells is certainly a great way to contribute to your local community, but depending on where you make your home it can be at best, uncomfortable. But coach Worlton said he has never heard any complaints.
The Ducks play in a state that includes the 'frozen tundra' made famous by the NFL's Green Bay Packers and Worlton has also coached in Minnesota and Alaska. While the pictures always show players dressed for the elements and huddling close together, they also always show them smiling.
“They understand it,” said the coach. “Are they jumping for joy? I'm not going to tell you that, but they know there is a reason behind it. There's really no arm twisting. There's no complaints. We have a good group of kids here.”
The payoff generally would be getting noticed by people in the community where hockey at this level has been a bit of a tough sell, but the group seems content to do it in relative obscurity.
Worlton said the players haven't mentioned anyone asking about the team despite the fact the players always include jerseys or team jackets as part of their work attire.
“Those guys haven't said anything to me about it,” said Worlton. “I know they've gotten some extra money, some people 'tip' them, but they just put the money in the kettle they said.
"We wear our jerseys, try to get some attention to our team,” said the coach but at this time of year that is not the primary purpose of doing the community service.
One aspect of it that can be beneficial is players getting to know each other a little better – all part of the bonding process coaches always talk about. The players have been together for some time, but this is a great opportunity for newly acquired players or even players from different billet homes to spend a little extra time together for a few hours.
“Yeah, we try to mix it up and you know, basically we do it the whole month of December so we try to mix it up and get different pairings. We have anywhere from two to four guys and they do it for two hours – 4-6 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., Monday through Wednesday.”