The Wellington Dukes managed to close the books on the 2019 portion of their Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season schedule the right way on Friday, shading the visiting Trenton Golden Hawks 2-1 in a thrilling and well attended affair at Lehigh Arena Fri., Dec 20, 2019.
Dukes netminder Matthew Dunsmoor accepted the OJHL November Goaltender of the month award prior to puck drop and then went about demonstrating why he’s one of the Jr. A loop’s best puckstoppers, making 32 stops including 13 big ones in the third period with the Dukes ahead by a goal and Trenton pressing hard for an equalizer.
But Dunsmoor and the Dukes were equal to the task and, after enduring a four game losing streak earlier in the month, Wellington closed out December with a three game winning streak.
With the win, Wellington moved their record to 27-7-2 good enough for a .778 winning percentage and 56 points.
The four point game was key for the Dukes who trail the East Division leading Golden Hawks by two points but hold a game in hand on their rivals.
The Dukes opened up the scoring in the first where the locals managed to test Trenton starter Anand Oberoi 18 times in the frame.
At the 13:21 mark after an extended period of play in the Trenton end, Dylan Massie took a Frank Vitucci pass on the half wall.
Afforded some time and space, Massie took a stride towards the Trenton net and ripped a low shot past Oberoi for the games first goal.
The Golden Hawks appeared to tie the game later in the period but referee Darryl Dykes correctly ruled that forward Griffen Fox kicked the puck past Dunsmoor and into the Wellington net.
Ahead 1-0 after one, Wellington turned in some nice work early in the second.
Quinn Hanna was able to unload a shot to the Trenton net where rookie Barret Joynt was waiting to tap home a loose puck and stake the Dukes to a 2-0 lead just under four minutes into the stanza.
While always simmering no matter what time of year and the stakes when the Bay of Quinte rivalry is contested, this game took on a nasty edge at end of the second as tensions escalated into skirmishes and penalties.
The Dukes bore the brunt of the discipline as Hanna was tossed for a hit from behind and Wellington’s leading scorer Jake Gagnon was lost for the first 14 minutes of the frame for a boarding call, a roughing minor and a ten minute misconduct.
Just after Wellington would kill off a penalty to start the third, Trenton would strike as Dalton Bancroft’s face-off win would allow Cameron Gaylor to send a wrist shot to the top corner of the Dukes net to make the score 2-1.
But Wellington wouldn’t break down the stretch and Dunsmoor came up with some leather-bound dandies to ensure the Dukes and their fans scored an early Christmas present at the break by way of winning the fifth edition of the 2019-20 Loyalist Parkway set against the Golden Hawks.
Just over 950 took in the game.
Wellington is back at it on Fri., Jan. 3 at 7:30 p.m. when they host the Whitby Fury.
The next night, the Dukes have a rare Saturday night contest against the visiting Lindsay Muskies.