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November 11, 2016
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The Wellington Dukes are officially in a slump offensively and tempers flared, as they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Buffalo Jr. Sabres on Remembrance Day Friday.


Buffalo got their lone meeting with the Dukes started off on the right foot just 4:51 in on Brendan Dunning's sixth of the year after a wild scramble in front of Connor Ryckman. The Jr. Sabres kept pressing after the goal, but Wellington responded by pelting numerous pucks on Buffalo netminder Tucker Weppner on four powerplay opportunities in the period. Nothing got past Weppner though and the Jr. Sabres carried the 1-0 lead into the period, with an 18-16 shot advantage in a wide open first frame.


The Dukes finally would capitalize on their fifth powerplay attempt, on Colin Doyle's third of the season from Brett Schaefer and Brody Morris. Over halfway through the period, captain Justin Bean staked Wellington to a lead by cleaning up his own rebound and lifting in over a fallen Weppner. Bean's eighth goal was assisted by Brendan Rylott, his first career OJHL point. The advantage was short-lived for the home side however. Less than two minutes after the Bean tally, Colton McKenna put a shot off the glove of Ryckman that deflected over his head and bounced towards the line, where defenceman Aaron Reinig stuffed it in. About a minute-and-a-half later, with the OJHL's leading scorer Brayden Stortz in the box, Thorold native Andrew Pizzo ripped a hard shot through a screen and over Ryckman's right shoulder. The 3-2 lead stood into the intermission, with Buffalo leading 16-11 in shots. Another highlight of the period was a thunderous open-ice hit from Carter Allen on Dunning at centre shook the whole rink up.


Buffalo pulled away in the third, with Michael Faliero receiving a tape-to-tape lob feed from Union College commitment Ryan Sidorski and burying a breakaway goal past Ryckman's glove just 27 seconds into the period. Reinig's second of the game coming on the powerplay on a blast through Ryckman's legs spelled the end of the scoring at 3:20. Brody Morris, Brent House and Hunter Gunski all tried to light a spark under the Dukes, but it was too late, as the Jr. Sabres pulled out the victory. Shots in the third were 10-8 Buffalo and 44-35 for the visitors on the game.


The Jr. Sabres hand the Dukes just their second home loss of the year, improving to 11-11-0-1 in the process. The Dukes fall to 13-7-1-2. Wellington heads into the Eastern Canada Cup Challenge having lost five of six. The Dukes organization and fans want to send congratulations to the five players that are heading off to Cornwall, Ont. for the tournament. The Dukes are back in action Thursday in Stouffville against the Spirit, then will continue a busy weekend at home against Cobourg Friday and Whitby on Sunday.


Story by Brock Ormond

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