Dukes blank Patriots on first day of Showcase

(Harrison Ballard and Jaxen Boyer of the Wellington Dukes battle for the puck with Crossley Stewart of the Toronto Patriots during Monday’s 2-0 win at the OJHL Governors’ Showcase in Cobourg. Photo by Jeff Gard)

Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte

The Wellington Dukes snapped a four-game losing skid Monday afternoon at the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Governors’ Showcase in Cobourg with a 2-0 win over the Toronto Patriots.

Wellington’s line of Barret Joynt, Harrison Ballard and Jaxen Boyer factored into both goals with each player registering two points in the contest as the club improved to 4-5-0-1.

“We just kept it simple all night pushing pucks forward, moving north and trying to play as simple as we could to get shots on net,” said Joynt, who’s second-period goal put the Dukes up 2-0 after Ballard opened the scoring with the lone goal of the first.

“Getting guys healthy helps a lot, but I think our attention to detail and moving pucks in straight lines rather than trying to go west and just moving it north helped a lot.”

Boyer, who was recently acquired in a trade from the Trenton Golden Hawks, assisted on both goals in his second game with the Dukes. Ballard’s goal came at the 11:27 mark of the first period while Joynt netted his 4:40 into the second as both players earned assists as well.

“The last couple games since they’ve been together, they create a lot of energy because they play the game the right way,” said Dukes head coach Derek Smith on the Joynt-Ballard-Boyer line. “They’re honest and they work hard and they don’t quit on any play. They’re a big part of our team and they are being rewarded on the scoresheet right now.”

It was the first win in regulation time for the Dukes since Oct. 8. The club had five losses, including the recent four straight, since that time and one win in double-overtime.

“We’ve been talking about battling for 60 minutes and having a good team effort and I think tonight from start to finish we were better,” Smith said. “We skated, we played physical and I’m happy with our performance for sure.”

Dukes goaltender Ethan Morrow stopped all 19 shots he faced to record the victory. His record now stands at 3-2-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.

“He was great,” Smith said. “Anytime you get a shutout, that’s all you can ask for. He made some big saves to keep us in it.”

Brodie McDougall played his second game in his return to the Wellington Dukes lineup on Monday. Photo by Jeff Gard

In addition to Boyer, the Dukes lineup has also been bolstered by the arrivals of Brodie McDougall and David Campbell who both played their second game Monday.

McDougall, now 20 years old, played 21 regular season games for the Dukes during the 2019-20 season when he was acquired from the Cobourg Cougars and played for Wellington during last year’s exhibition games as well. He started this season, playing nine games, with the New Jersey Jr. Titans of the North American Hockey League before returning to Wellington.

“I loved it in Welly,” McDougall said. “I went down to the States so I could play hockey and once things started to open up back in Canada I wanted to come back and play in Welly and try to win a championship.”

Campbell, 19, last played for the Blind River Beavers of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. He also played 27 regular season games in 2019-20 for the OHL’s North Bay Battalion.

The addition of 19-year-old Boyer as well adds more experience to the Dukes lineup.

“It’s huge because we were running into some injury troubles the last couple weeks, but now having a full lineup…a big thing is internal competition,” Smith said. “Now we have enough guys and guys are going to be battling and they’re going to push each other for more ice time and to help our club get better. They’re veteran players all coming in that are going to help with our culture and our work ethic and they’re skilled guys which will make our team deeper.”

All OJHL teams are playing two games at the Governors’ Showcase over the course of three days. The annual event attracts scouts from higher levels of hockey, including NHL and NCAA teams.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said McDougall, who had committed to Bowling Green University, but is now pursuing other NCAA opportunities. “I got my scholarship when I was 17 because of this showcase so it’s a great opportunity for all the players to get noticed by scouts all around the world.”

Joynt is also pursuing a scholarship to play NCAA Div. 1 hockey.

“It’s very cool to have a bunch of scouts here and know that in the back of your mind, but we’re not trying to focus on that,” he said. “Just try and get wins and they’ll come and watch and hopefully be impressed when we get wins.”

Wellington is back in action Wednesday against the Toronto Jr. Canadiens (7-2-1-0). Game time is 12 p.m. at the Cobourg Community Centre. Tickets are $20 for a day pass while kids under-12 are free.

Now that the Dukes are back in the win column, “just keep the ball rolling,” Joynt said. “Do everything right, keep the little things going and remember this feeling and how good it feels to win.”