Following a thrilling overtime victory in their home opener Friday night, the Wellington Dukes were in search of a home-and-home sweep over the Aurora Tigers Sunday night.
They would get that win in dominating style.
Like they did on Friday, the Dukes came out flying in the early going, finding the back of the net just under a minute in. Evan Foley notched his second goal in as many games by forcing a turnover inside the Aurora zone and squeezing a shot through Tigers’ goaltender Brayden Lachance’s legs. Austin Labelle drew the lone assist, his first point of the year.
This kickstarted a wild first period where five more goals were scored, including four for the visiting Dukes. Returning forward Nic Mucci fired home a powerplay goal just over four minutes in with assists going to Friday’s overtime hero Brayden Stortz and former Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL) defenceman Hunter Gunski. Shortly after, Friday’s second star Mel Melconian scored his third goal in two games against Wellington, beating Connor Ryckman after dangling out the Dukes defence. Eric Holland drew the only assist. Just 12 seconds after that, Kyle Prendel would quickly restore Wellington’s two goal lead with helpers from Brody Morris and Justin Bean, chasing Lachance from the net in favour of American back-up Jake Sabourin. Stortz (on another powerplay) and Brent House (on a one-timer off a great set-up from Mucci) would round out an spectacular first period for the Dukes.
After coming at Aurora fast and furious in the first frame, Wellington tamed things down in the second, electing to play a steady game in all three zones. Stortz would add his second goal of the game and team-leading fourth of the early campaign unassisted, but that would be it for the scoring for Wellington in the period and for the game.
Strong defence on both sides – and some rough stuff – were the highlights of the third stanza. A total of six misconducts were handed out, including a game misconduct for a check from behind from Dukes’ rookie forward Mitchell Pellarin and a pair of late banishments to Tigers’ veteran d-man James Thomson and newcomer Jacob Kostopoulos, playing in his first OJHL game.
Eventually, cooler heads would prevail and the Dukes came away with their second victory in two games versus Aurora to begin the 2016-17 season. Wellington finished two for seven on the powerplay, while Aurora fired blanks on their seven opportunities with the man advantage.
Stortz and Mucci led the way with three points each, overage defencemen Brody Morris and Justin Bean were solid again with a pair of assists each, Kyle Prendel notched his first OJHL goal and Connor Ryckman was steady between the pipes, among many highlights of a solid night’s work.
The Dukes will have a pair of home games this coming week. They are back in action Friday night when the 2017 RBC Cup host Cobourg Cougars come to the County for a 7:30 puck drop. Wellington then welcomes in the Milton Icehawks for a 2:00 start Sunday afternoon.