Over the years there have been hundreds of memorable hockey games in the Duke Dome, so the finale was sure to be another memorable event for the beloved fans of the Wellington Dukes.
After a great pregame ceremony that included members of the local Legion Branch 160 and Dukes #1 fan Foster Bailey dropping the ceremonial puck for the last time in the Dome the two teams put on a display that was only fitting for the Duke Domes final game. Announced attendance was 668 and every fan there, including many from Cobourg witnessed playoff style hockey midseason and it made the price of admission worth every cent.
Two great teams, two of the top goalies in the league, two of the classiest coaches in the league - both whom had coached in the Duke Dome made the matchup one to dream of. Both goalies stood on their head through 2 and a half periods before Cobourg was finally able to beat Jordan Ruby on a scramble in front of the net. It seemed to take the spirit out of all in attendance however the demons that have plagued so many teams in the past came alive as it was obvious the old barn was not going to go down early or quietly.
With 1:30 left in the game, the Dukes got the break they needed and took advantage of it. With a faceoff deep in Cobourg's end, Steve Evans won the faceoff forward and beat his center ice counterpart and Cougars goalscorer Evan Jasper who hauled Evans down resulting in a tripping penalty.
The Dukes powerplay had been silent all night, producing many opportunities to score but unable to solve Mathieu Cadieux. It has been said all season that Wellington's powerplay, a strength for many years, was their weakness this year; however, not on this opportunity. With Jordan Ruby out and the extra attacker on for the 6-4 advantage, Joe Zarbo was able to corral a loose puck in the slot and send a backhand towards the net which was stopped by Cadieux but the rebound sat loose and captain Sean Rudy was able to jam the puck in to tie the game and force overtime. Brendan Barletta also drew an assist. It was like the old arena just didn't want to go.
Both teams couldn't muster many chances in the extra frame so the game had to go to a shootout. Wellington was looking for revenge after Monday nights overtime loss in Cobourg and the Cougars were looking to escape the county with 2 points. Both goalies were sharp in the opening penalty shots. Jordan Ruby made a great save on Cobourg's third shooter Evan Jasper who had the five hole on Ruby open but, like many shooters before him, was turned away by the standout goaltender. It all came down to the final shooter for the homeside, Steve Evans, and he did not disappoint scoring the game-winner and sending fans into a frenzy.
There have been many memories from the Duke Dome over the years and the finale did not disappoint. Memorabilia was given to every fan who entered the building and t-shirts were sold to commemorate the special event in Wellington Dukes history.
The Dukes now move to the Essroc center to begin a new chapter of their storied franchise. Though the old barn with not be forgotten because of its history and fans, the Dukes have brought many of the same traditions with them to the new facility. Whiskey Corner will still have its place in the new arena, glass level seating getting fans as close to the ice as they can get, air raid sirens and propane power air horns will still make any goalie jump in shock.
(Article courtesy Tyler Brown)