Perhaps a little bit of opening night jitters cost the Wellington Dukes at home on Friday but the local Jr. A outfit looked more than comfortable Sunday in Pickering as the club was able to amass three of a possible four points to open the 2023-24 Ontario Junior Hockey League season.
Wellington was denied a home opener win against the Toronto Jr. Canadiens as the Baby Habs dropped the Dukes in overtime 4-3. But two nights later in action against the Panthers, the Dukes rhythmically beat the hosts like a drum, scoring three goals in each of the three periods to hang a 9-0 loss on Pickering. Wellington native Nolan Lane (pictured above) made the most out of his Dukes debut, picking up his first OJHL win and shutout.
The scorekeepers in Pickering neglected to post the shots on goal in the game sheet but nothing more needs to be said other than Lane stopped every Panthers blast sent his way. Will Mitchell led the way for Wellington with a hat trick while Liam Lucas, Cory Jewitt each had a pair of goals.
Down 1-0 after the first on Friday, the Dukes exploded for three in the second as Mr. Lucas, Mason Goodfellow and Sacha Trudel all scored in a 4:12 span to take a 3-1 lead over the Jr. Canadiens to the second intermission. In the third, a lack of discipline came back to bite Wellington as Toronto cashed in twice on the power play early in the period. Wellington goalie Jack Lisson was sensational in the last half of the period to keep Toronto shooters at bay.
In overtime, a bouncing puck allowed Luc Malkhassian to gain half a step on a Wellington defender and a converted partial breakaway was enough to give the visitors the win.
Wellington hosts the Toronto Patriots on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. and the Lindsay Muskies on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.