Dukes overcome early deficit to defeat Cougars

(Emmet Pierce #5 of the Wellington Dukes skates with the puck during the first period at the Cobourg Community Centre on October 2, 2021. Photo by Tim Bates/OJHL Images)

Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte

For the second straight game, the Wellington Dukes had to claw back from a substantial deficit after the first period against the Cobourg Cougars.

Sunday afternoon in Wellington, the Dukes were down 5-0 after the opening frame before losing 7-6 when the Cougars scored the deciding goal late in regulation time.

On Monday night at the Cobourg Community Centre, the Cougars tallied three unanswered goals in the first period, but the Dukes scored the final of the contest during the final two frames in a 7-3 Ontario Junior Hockey League victory.

“We knew we still had a chance to come back in the game. At no point did we give up or think or think oh gosh we’re not in this game anymore,” said Dukes captain Emmet Pierce. “We just went out with the same idea and game plan as the game before and just said we have to claw back into the game.”

Cobourg jumped out to a quick lead on a goal by Kallaway Mercer just 41 seconds in and it was bolstered by goals from George Krotiris at 10:18 and Belleville’s Trevor Hoskin at 18:47.

Follow behind early again on Monday, the Dukes had to draw on lessons from Sunday’s game at Lehigh Arena.

“Mainly that we can’t take any period for granted,” Pierce said. “Coming out in the first period we know we have to be better and that any team in this league can win on any given night. If we don’t work hard and tend to our individual jobs then things won’t go well.”

Wellington showed the same resiliency it did on Sunday, starting with a better effort in the second. Barret Joynt, who leads the team with 10 goals and has four straight two-point games, got the offence rolling with his first of two goals 2:10 into the middle frame.

Corbin Roach, at 9:12 and 15:49, scored his first two OJHL goals to even the score before Graham Dickerson put the Dukes in front with a power-play goal late in the period. Only 11 seconds remained on the clock when Dickerson, who assisted the previous two goals, scored.

In the third, Will Mitchell at 10:58 and Ethan Quick at 12:37 strengthened the Dukes lead and Joynt added his second tally with an empty-net marker.

Goaltender Matt Dunsmoor, who allowed three goals on 12 shots in the first period, stopped the remaining 18 pucks fired his way to earn the victory in net.

As captain, Pierce’s message is “just to never get down and out. There was still 40 minutes of hockey left and we know we’re a good team.”

Wellington (9-8-0-2) returns to action Friday night at home against the Toronto Patriots (7-10-0-3). Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Lehigh Arena.

The Dukes will be searching for a better start to avoid having to constantly battle back. It worked out Monday, but cost them the previous outing.

“We’ve got to be more focused and ready to go in the first period and hopefully things will turn out better for us,” Pierce said.