Dukes Hockey


Posted: February 23, 2017 at 9:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Dukes take four-game winning streak into final regular season game on Friday

The Wellington Dukes made short work of the Pickering Panthers in two games on the weekend. They now get ready to face the Whitby Fury at home on Friday night—likely a precursor to a first-round matchup in the OJHL playoffs. Friday’s game will also be the night the Dukes, fans and neighbours come together to lend their support to Allan Etmanski, currently battling a cancer diagnosis.

The tone was set early on Friday. Some fans had not made it to their seats when Rory Milne whacked home the rebound from a Brody Morris point shot. Later in the period—the Dukes on the power play, moving the puck around well—Nic Mucci teed up the puck for a one-timer from Morris. The Pickering netminder was still in another postal code when the puck hit the back of the net.

The Panthers got one back—but Morris was back for more, pushing his team out to a 3-1 lead. The outcome of this game was no longer in doubt. Both teams settled into their roles. One preparing for the playoffs, the other making plans to go home.

After a scoreless second period, the Dukes added a pair in the third—from Mucci and Milne. Pickering tallied on the power play. Jackson Arcan earned a pair of assists. Since returning from a long suspension, he has been playing brilliantly—earning 11 points in nine games.

The only worrying bit about Friday’s game was the number of near misses by Dukes’ shooters. Several times Morris seemed certain to notch a hat trick in this game, only to be turned away. The Dukes won’t get away with wasting opportunities against better teams in the playoffs.

The Dukes did a much better job of capitalizing on their opportunities on Sunday evening in Pickering. Brayden Stortz, still leading the OJHL scoring race, had a four-point night—two goals and two assists in this romp. Austin Labelle, Colin Doyle and Mitchell Mendonca all had three-point nights. Connor Ryckman, though tested early, had a quiet night in the Dukes net. That is not the best scenario for the Wellington netminder.

Pickering managed just six shots on net in the third period. But one of them slipped by the Wellington goalie. Ryckman needs to stay busy to keep sharp. That shouldn’t be a problem in the playoffs.

The Dukes host the Fury in the final game of the regular season on Friday night. If the playoffs started today, the Dukes would face Whitby in the first round. It is an ideal set up for this game. Wellington has a lock on fifth place in the North East Conference. Whitby is in fourth spot, but just a point behind Cobourg. Both teams have one game yet to play. A Whitby win over Wellington on Friday combined with a Cobourg loss against Trenton on Saturday would move the Fury up. In that event, the Dukes would face the Cobourg Cougars in the first round.

But the Dukes can decide Whitby’s fate—ensuring a date with Wellington—by winning on Friday.

The Dukes are due. Whitby has won all three previous games this season—two by a narrow margin of a single goal

On Friday night, the Dukes are committing the proceeds from this game to Allan Etmanski. The young man served as music coordinator for Dukes games for several years before heading off to college. Etmanski is battling cancer—and the money raised in this game will be used to offset the costs of his treatment, care and travel expenses.