After building a sizable lead in Game 1 of the 2018 Buckland Cup final, the Wellington Dukes were able to snatch victory form the jaws of defeat.
The Dukes were able to put a three-goal collapse behind them on Friday evening and down the host Georgetown Raiders 4-3 in overtime.
Mitch Mendonca’s second of the night just 4:28 into the first extra session was anything but an end-to-end rush but the Dukes were hardly in a position to be picky after their 3-0 first period lead had evaporated at the end of the third period.
The scoring play came off a defensive zone face-off in the Georgetown end where the Raiders were unable to clear the puck.
Ben Evans was able to hold the line and find Declan Carlile who funneled the disc to the Raiders net.
Mendonca got just enough of the puck to deflect it past Georgetown netminder Troy Timpano and lift the club to a 1-0 series lead.
It was somewhat of a saving grace for Wellington, as the Dukes came out blazing in the first period and notched three goals before the end of the frame.
Teddy McGeen score the opening goal of the final on the power-play when he backhanded home a rebound from in front at the 7:10 mark.
Wellington would double its lead thanks to the vision of Evans.
A mid-ice turnover sprung Mendonca and Evans on a two-on-one and with some patience, Evans was able to out wait Timpano, forcing the ex-Erie Otter netminder
A feathered pass to Mendonca at the side of the net found its mark and made it a 2-0 Wellington lead at 10:23.
The Wellington deluge continued about three minutes later when Geoff Lawson blocked a Georgetown power-play blast and another two-on-one rush developed with Mitch Martan leading the way.
Killing off a Wellington penalty, Martan would do the prudent thing and shoot short side on Timpano.
The Raiders netminder made the stop but the puck sprung loose behind him.
Lawson drove the net and wound up putting the puck home for a shorthanded goal at 13:30.
But the Raiders are not defending three-time South-West Conference champions for nothing and Georgetown started the long road back early in the second.
An unattended Derek McVey swept the puck past Wellington netminder Jonah Capriotti at 86 seconds into the second to get the Raiders on the board.
Later in the frame, Georgetown would strike on the powerplay as Jacob Payette picked the corner from just outside the faceoff dot at 17:49.
Tasked with sitting on a 3-2 lead inside the final frame, Wellington would get close to wining Game 1 by that score.
Inside the final 30 seconds to be exact.
But two things happened inside the final seconds of the Game 1.
The Raiders managed to keep the puck inside the Wellington end despite the Dukes having a couple of chances to interrupt the Raiders passing play and Capriotti lost his footing in the crease.
But the time the Raiders delivered the puck to the Wellington net, Capriotti was more or less down and out and unable to make a stop on Bailey Molella’s tap in with 16 seconds left in the third stanza, tying the contest at 3-3.
The teams were to have met last night in Wellington for Game 2 but the series was temporarily interrupted due to the weekend’s ice storm.
Game 2 is set for this evening at Essroc Arena and Game 3 will be back at the Georgetown Mold Master Arena on Tuesday.