Dukes beat the Buzzers thrice to take 3-0 series lead

(From Left) Trevor McDowell's first OJHL goal in the first period of Sunday's 4-1 win by the host Wellington Dukes over St. Mikes was enough to make Luke Lapalm and Julien Jacob smile. Wellington leads the opening round of the Buckland Cup playoffs 3-0. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)


The Wellington Dukes are poised to move to the second round of the 2023 Buckland Cup Playoffs after blitzing the St. Mike’s Buzzers in the first three games of the opening round of the OJHL playoffs.

Wellington has managed to outscore St. Mike’s 18-5 over the first three games of the Southeastern Quarterfinals to take a commanding lead but the Dukes will likely face their toughest test on Thursday at venerable St. Mike’s Arena when they try to eliminate the Buzzers in the fourth game of the series.

Wellington and St. Mike’s skated stride for stride with one another in Game 1 on Wednesday night but the Dukes were able to finally pull ahead in the late going to secure a 7-4 win.

Wellington’s Ryan Smith got the party started off right 30 seconds in when he beat Christian Trianni for a 1-0 lead. That margin was soon doubled thanks to a blast from Barrett Joynt at the five minute mark.

But if the Dukes though everything was going their way in Game 1, they would soon learn otherwise.

Giacomo Martino would score a goal and set up Brandon Cohen at the midway mark of the frame to make it a 2-2 draw.

Wellington’s Luke Strickland has scored a goal in all three of Wellington’s 2023 post season games. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

Rearguard Julien Jacob would score on Wellington’s lone power play at 16:32 to restore a winning margin for the hosts.

In the second, the Buzzers would get a power play marker of their own of the stick of Luke Perovic to make it a 3-3 game.

Wellington’s Corbin Roach would push his team ahead at 13:15 with his first off the post season but Cohen’s second of the game squared the affair at 4-4.

Wellington’s Edward Moskowitz finally put the Dukes ahead to stay with a last minute dagger in the second period to make it 5-4.

In the third, Luke Strickland had the insurance tally bench boss Derek Smith was craving at the 10:50 mark to make the game 6-4 and Connor Hunt was able to salt the contest away with an empty netter with 65 seconds left.

On Friday in Toronto, if Buzzers fans flocked to their familiar bandbox on Bathurst St. ready to cheer some goals scored by their beloved Buzzers, they were stifled and left sad by Wellington’s Jacob Osborne who made 22 saves while picking up his first post season shutout in a 7-0 whitewash for Wellington.

Wellington’s lineup would feature seven different Dukes lighting the lamp on Friday night.

Roach, Strickland, Joynt and Moskowitz all scored their second goal of the series while Matheson Mason, Jacob Vreugdenhil and David Campbell also got in on the goal scoring parade. 

On Sunday afternoon, the Buzzers kept it closer but another strong outing by Osborne and a pair of goals late made the host Dukes a 4-1 winner.

St. Mike’s Matt Milic would score a power play goal at 6:35 of the first to give the Buzzer’s their first lead in the series.

But Trevor McDowell’s first OJHL goal with under five minutes to go in the first made it a 1-1 tie and Wellington never looked back.

Barrett Joynt’s power play tally early in the second pushed the locals ahead to stay.

Then, another power play goal this time by Moskowitz at the midway point of the third was all the insurance the Dukes would need. Strickland’s second of the series into a gaping St. Mike’s cage with 55 seconds left made it a 4-1 final for the hosts.

Wellington, who went 2 for 6 with the man advantage and are 4 for 10 in the playoffs so far, try to quell the Buzzers on Tuesday night in Toronto. If Game 5 is required, it will be played in Wellington on Friday.