Dukes Hockey

Peaking

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 9:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Dukes getting much-needed firepower deep in the lineup

It was a great weekend for the Dukes— particularly so as it comes so near the playoffs.

Perhaps chief among the achievements is that the Dukes are beginning to shake off the perception its offensive threat consists of a single line. Neither of the OJHL’s number two and three pointgetters, Brayden Stortz and Nic Mucci, scored in the Dukes’ wins in Trenton on Friday and Sunday at home.

Perhaps chief among the achievements is that the Dukes are beginning to shake off the perception its offensive threat consists of a single line. Neither of the OJHL’s number two and three pointgetters, Brayden Stortz and Nic Mucci, scored in the Dukes’ wins in Trenton on Friday and Sunday at home.

Since returning from suspension, Jackson Arcan has been racking up the points at a better-than-a-point-a-game basis, alongside linemates Kyle Prendel and Mitchell Martan.

The Dukes’ defence is also posing more of an offensive threat as the regular season winds down—not just from workhorses Justin Bean, Carter Allen, Hunter Gunski and Brody Morris—but increasingly from the younger guns, Keegan Ferguson and Mackenzie Warren.

In net, Connor Ryckman has been rock solid, steady and calm. This ease infects the team in front of him—giving them confidence their netminder will be there to clean up the mess if a gambit doesn’t work.

With three games to go—two against Pickering— it is looking increasingly likely, though not at all certain, the Dukes will square off against the Whitby Fury in the first round of the playoffs. The Fury should be worried about this match up—and the surge the Dukes have made down the stretch.

DUKES 2 – TRENTON 1
Connor Ryckman was the story in Trenton, turning away 45 shots to lead the Dukes to a 2- 1 win on Friday night. A capacity crowd had turned out to witness the cross bay rivalry playout one more time before the playoffs.

But it was Arcan who gave the Dukes the lead late in the first period. The Golden Hawks likely heard a few inspiring words between periods. They came out like demons—aided by a refereeing corps that saw every Wellington infraction— eight penalties—but only one of Trenton’s. Yet it was the Dukes’ Milne who scored to widen the lead. Shortly afterward Trenton scored drawing within a goal. It seemed a turning point.

Dukes penalties tipped the ice greatly in favour of Trenton—including a minute-long two-man disadvantage. But Wellington’s lead held—through the remainder of the game.

When it was done, the Dukes had successfully defended against eight power plays by the OJHL’s top ranked team. An achievement for sure—but one the team is likely not looking to repeat, preferring instead to play with an equal number of players on the ice.

DUKES 9 – LINDSAY 1
Lindsay’s postseason fate was sealed by the time the team arrived in Wellington through the snowstorm. Newmarket had, by then, sealed the eighth and final playoff spot in the North East Conference— extinguishing the Muskies’ faint hope.

Rory Milne scored the game winning goal on Friday in Trenton, unassisted and generated five points in the Dukes 9-1 win over Lindsay on Sunday.

So it was a dispirited team that greeted the Dukes on Sunday. That meant a lot of ice for the Dukes to manoeuvre. By the end of the first period, the Dukes had a 4-0 lead, weaving through the Muskie defence at will.

After the intermission, the Muskie team, with an injection of pride, picked up the pace and intensity. Without much work through the first period, Ryckman was handcuffed by a shot from the right wing, slipping over his shoulder. The fish still had some fight. But it vanished just as quickly. The Dukes scored three more in short order.

In the third period, Brendan Rylott scored his first goal as a Dukes player as his team coasted to a 9-1 win.

This game, as lopsided matches tend to do, featured more than its share of after whistle skirmishes. One such slugfest late in the game earned Warren a game suspension.

UP NEXT: PICKERING
The Dukes face the Panthers in a home-and-away series this weekend. Like Lindsay, Pickering has been eliminated from postseason play. The Panthers are an anaemic offensive threat—tallying the second fewest goals in the OJHL—fewer than half those scored by Georgetown, Trenton and Cobourg. Yet the team ranks among the leaders in penalty minutes.

The Dukes will be mindful to collect these points but stay wide of possible suspensions