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September 9, 2017
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Story by Brock Ormond


A gutsy comeback effort wasn't quite enough for the Wellington Dukes in their season opener on Saturday afternoon in Burlington, as they fell 6-5 in an offence-filled contest to the host Cougars.


The first contest under a new regime didn't start the way head coach Scott McCrory and the Dukes wanted, as Josh Leblanc beat goaltender Creed Jones 30 seconds into the first period. Mitchell Morrison and Josiah Degazon drew assists. Burlington also notched a last minute goal courtesy of Morrison at 19:10, with assists from Degazon and Nick Giunta. Shots after one period favoured the Dukes 14-12, but they couldn't find the back of the net on Burlington netminder Joey Halstrom.


Morrison bumped Burlington's lead to 3-0 just under two minutes intp the second with more help from Leblanc and Degazon, as that line for the Cougars continued to control the ice. Wellington would get on the board with their first of three powerplay goals courtesy of captain Colin Doyle, with assists from Mitchell Martan and Eric Uba. The Cougars would restore their three goal lead on the strength of a shorthanded marker from their captain Zac Elson with exactly five minutes to play in the middle frame. Bain Cunningham and Jaxon Camp picked up assists. Burlington carried that three-goal cushion into the third, outshooting Wellington 14-10 in the process.


The Dukes offence would come to life in the third period, as they pelted 25 pucks at Halstrom and found the back of the net four times. Martan, the Boston College commit, got it started by firing one home just 98 seconds into the stanza with assistance from OJHL rookies Daniel Panetta and Andrew Rinaldi. Then, Panetta and Doyle hooked up for a shorthanded marker for the third-year Duke's second of the game to cut the deficit to one. After a Degazon powerplay goal from LeBlanc and Giunta that bumped Burlington's lead back up to two, rookie Jeffrey Burridge beat Halstrom for his first OJHL tally on a Dukes powerplay, the lone assist going to Declan Carlile. Veteran Teddy McGeen completed the comeback to tie the score on another man advantage from Alec Tiley and Doyle with just under five minutes to play to force overtime.


The first overtime didn't solve a thing, but in double overtime, Morrison would complete the hat trick and a four-point afternoon to steal away the extra point and the first victory of the Cougars season. Michael Boushy and Giunta drew assists on the winner.


Wellington's valiant effort came up just short, but they did pick up their first point of the season and showed some positive traits in their first game with a largely new unit. 


The Dukes outshot Burlington 55-37, but the play of Joey Halstrom was good enough to steer the County kids away from victory. Wellington also had a good first showing on special teams, going a solid 3 for 9 on the powerplay with a shorthanded tally.


Wellington's back in action Sunday afternoon to take on the Milton Icehawks at 3:30 at the Milton Memorial Arena.

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