For the first time in the 2017-2018 regular season, the Wellington Dukes did not capture the majority of points available to them over a weekend set of contests.
And while that’s not cause for massive alarm bells and the nervous wringing of hands in the village and elsewhere, it will be an interesting test to see how the club responds to home dates against Cobourg Friday evening and St. Mike’s on Sunday.
Wellington laid a 6-1 egg at the Aurora Community Centre Saturday night after blowing a two goal lead against the visiting Newmarket Hurricanes on Friday and settling for a 4-4 draw.
With the solitary point, Wellington (15-4-7, 37 points) have allowed Kingston (25 points) to stay in the picture by virtue of the Voyageurs five games in hand on the Dukes.
Last time the Dukes played in Aurora, they were befuddled with a bus breakdown but still managed to score seven seconds into the Oct. 14 contest and never trailed in a 4-1 win over the Tigers.
On Saturday, Wellington might as well have stayed home.
Dukes starter Jonah Capriotti was tardy getting off the ice for warm up prior to the two minute warning instituted on visiting clubs by the Ontario Hockey Association and the club was tasked with killing a minor penalty from the opening puck drop.
Aurora wouldn’t score on that power play but the Tigers would beat Capriotti on a four-on-three advantage at 8:51 of the first.
A screened shot goal and a horrendous giveaway in the defensive zone would pave the way for two more Aurora goals and a 3-0 lead at the first intermission.
Wellington was afforded a five-on-three man advantage to start the second but couldn’t beat Tigers starter Bradley Van Schubert.
Jake Bricknell would pot a pair for Aurora, the first at 2:54 that caused Capriotti to be lifted and the second on Wellington backup Pierce Nelson at 7:36.
Jackson Arcan would ruin any hope Van Schubert had on a perfect night with a goal set up bu Dan Panetta at 13:25 for the middle frame.
Luca Esposito scored his second of the contest in the third to make it a 6-1 final.
Officials Kyle Smith and Stephen Ley must have been getting paid by the whistle as 31 minor penalties were called and the clubs were handed a combined 23 power-play opportunities.
On Friday Wellington and Newmarket faced off in battle of division-leading clubs with the Dukes spring unique camouflaged jerseys that were auctioned off after the contest in support of the Wounded Warrior program.
After a scoreless first period, Wellington fell behind in the second but quickly rebounded to take the lead midway through the frame.
Geoff Lawson tied it at 7:05 with help from Declan Carlile and Arcan and, just over a minute later, Ben Evans capitalized on a Newmarket turnover to make it a 2-1 game.
Mitch Martan would score at 14:29 to increase the Wellington spread to 3-1 but a Newmarket power-play goal at 15:06 off the stick of Cole Thiessen kept the Canes alive heading to the final intermission.
At the midway point of the third, Wellington looked like they were going to pull away when Eric Uba fired home his seventh of the season at 10:50 with help from Panetta and Mack Warren but the Canes rallied.
Another Newmarket power-play goal from Christian Dedonato at 13:52 and an Owen Ramsey marker at 14:20 made it a 4-4 game.
Wellington would control both the 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 overtime periods but one time Duke Justin Vertesi came back to haunt his former club and held strong after replacing Newmarket starter Fraser Kirk after Martan’s goal in the second stanza.
After Sunday’s contest against the Buzzers, Wellington doesn’t play at home again until Dec.1 when they host the Whitby Fury at 7:30 p.m.