Big rally falls just short for Dukes in loss to Cougars

(Erik MacNiel, a former Quinte Red Devil, of the Cobourg Cougars tries to keep the puck from Corbin Roach of the Wellington Dukes during the second period of Sunday’s OJHL game at Lehigh Arena. Photo by Ed McPherson/OJHL Images)

After spotting the visiting Cobourg Cougars a five-goal lead in the first period, the Wellington Dukes fell just shy of a successful comeback in Ontario Junior Hockey League action Sunday afternoon at Lehigh Arena.

The Dukes rallied from deficits of 5-0 and 6-3 to tie the game in the third period before Tai York, with his second of the contest, scored the deciding goal with 2:42 remaining in regulation time in a 7-6 victory for the Cougars.

York, Parker Hendsbee, Zach Smith, Trevor Hoskin and Jakob Morier tallied the first-period goals for Cobourg.

Wellington began mounting its comeback early in the second with special teams units converting on opportunities. Emmet Pierce capitalized on a Dukes power play just 1:31 into the middle frame and teammate Jacob Vreugdenhil scored shorthanded at 7:13.

A goal by Ethan Quick at the 9:46 mark edged the Dukes closer before Jacob Gilbert responded for the Cougars at 18:33 to restore their three-goal advantage.

The Dukes continued to battle and Barret Joynt tallied his first of two goals on the afternoon with 14 seconds left in the period.

Vreugdenhil and Joynt both notched their second goals of the game before the midway mark of the third, scoring a minute and 33 seconds apart.

Hoskin, who is from Belleville, assisted on York’s game-winner for Cobourg. Belleville’s Duncan Schneider also earned an assist in the win. Both Hoskin and Schneider are former Quinte Red Devils.

Goaltender Mason Vaccari made 24 saves in earning the win in net for Cobourg. Matt Dunsmoor stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced after replacing Ethan Morrow at the start of the second period. Morrow surrendered five goals on 13 shots.

The Dukes (8-8-0-2) and Cougars (8-6-0-2) will meet again Monday night in Cobourg. Game time is 7 p.m. at the Cobourg Community Centre.