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September 28, 2016
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A two goal performance from veteran forward Nic Mucci wasn’t enough on Wednesday afternoon, as the Dukes were handed their first loss of the 2016-17 season, 4-2 to the Toronto Jr. Canadians at the Governor’s Showcase in Buffalo.


After a relatively short turnaround from their victory the night before over the Orangeville Flyers, Wellington found themselves in penalty trouble early on, with Jackson Arcan and Hunter Gunski in the box for cross checking infractions. Not long after Arcan’s penalty expired, former Cambridge Winterhawk Scott Del Zotto dug the puck out of the corner and found veteran defender Cody Symonds at the far circle, who cushioned the pass and fired it top shelf over Dukes goalie Connor Ryckman’s left shoulder. Gianfranco Cassaro added a secondary assist on what would end up being the only goal of the period. There was not a lack of chances for Wellington in the first frame, but former Newmarket Hurricane goaltender Dalton Ewing stood tall, stopping all 16 shots he faced.


The Jr. Canadians rebounded to outshoot and out-chance Wellington in the second period and got a bit of a strange goal over halfway through. Jeremy Smith took a feed from Jake Joffe and tried to return it, but the puck glanced off Wellington defenceman Carter Allen’s body and in past Ryckman. The goal was Smith’s first in the OJHL and boosted Toronto’s lead.


It wasn’t until 12:22 mark of the third period that the Dukes finally found the twine on Mucci’s first of two on the powerplay. Brody Morris and Brayden Stortz drew the helpers on Mucci’s rebound tally, his third of the season. Del Zotto would restore Toronto’s two goal lead with just under four minutes to go in the period with some assistance from Matteo DiGiulio and recently acquired Robert Orlando. Mucci and the Dukes refused to go lightly though, as the former Minor Midget Jr. Canadian scooped up another rebound in the crease area and beat Ewing to cut the deficit back down to one again. The Dukes would get no closer than that however, as Joffe would put the game to bed with a shorthanded, empty net goal with just 41 seconds left.


Wellington’s seven game winning streak was snapped, but their play was not to be questioned on this day. Dalton Ewing was brilliant in goal for Toronto, making 31 stops and winning a rare duel over Wellington’s superstar netminder Connor Ryckman. Mucci’s two goals was the highlight of the Dukes first loss of the season.


Wellington will pack up and head back home to face their East Division rival the Kingston Voyageurs on Friday night at Essroc Arena in what is sure to be an entertaining and feisty contest.


Story by Brock Ormond

Photo: Nic Mucci, #9 of the Wellington Dukes celebrates with his teammates during a 6-1 win over the Aurora Tigers on September 11, 2016. He scored both goals in a 4-2 loss to the Toronto Jr. Canadians Wednesday afternoon.

Photo by Philip Sutherland, OJHL Images

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