It took a wild third period comeback effort but the Wellington Dukes were winners in their first and only home pre-season game for the 2023 Ontario Junior Hockey League exhibition schedule.
The Dukes took the back end of the home-and-home set 6-4, getting a measure of revenge on the Cobourg Cougars who bested Wellington by the same score at the Cobourg Community Centre two nights prior.
Down a goal heading into the third period of play Friday at Lehigh Arena, Auston Montgomery would set up Zander Latreille at 7:30 for his second tally of the night to square the affair at 2-2. The Cougars and Quinte Red Devils product Trevor Hoskin would reestablish the Cobourg lead just over 90 seconds later but an avalanche of Wellington goals would put the locals ahead to stay in the final ten minutes of the contest.
Wellington would beat Cobourg starter Dillon Grover four times in a span of 5:29 to put the game to rest in favour of the Dukes. Wellington’s Matt Whelton would tie the game back up at 3-3 with a power play goal at 11:37. Just under two minutes later and once again on a power play, Sacha Trudel converted a Hayden Pimm pass to put the Dukes ahead for good. But the goals kept coming for the Dukes. Connor Hunt, one of the few returnees in the Wellington lineup this season, scored at 14:19 to make it a 5-3 game and then, at 16:06, Nick Diapolo would pot his club’s sixth goal. Cobourg’s Kaiden Harmon would tack on a tally with seven seconds left to make the score closer than the game actually was.
On Wednesday, Wellington’s comeback bid fell just short as the team scored three goals in the final 20 minutes but couldn’t quite close the gap on the hosts. Down 5-1 heading into the third, goals from Mr. Hunt, Mr. Trudel and Joey Coates made the game more interesting but a goal off the stick of Mr. Hoskin with just under three minutes to play was a back breaker for the visitors.
Mr. Whelton had the other Wellington goal.
Wellington opens their 35th season of Jr. A hockey in Prince Edward County on Friday, Sept. 8 when the Toronto Jr. Canadiens visit Lehigh Arena. Several alumni are expected to be in attendance for anniversary celebrations including Mike Senior, Dwight Merkley, Jeremy Franklin, Luc Brown and Damien Gilbert to name but a few.