Late goals lift Dukes to victory over Patriots

(Harrison Ballard in action for the Wellington Dukes. Photo by Ed McPherson/OJHL Images)

By Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte

A go-ahead goal by Emmet Pierce late in regulation time followed by an empty-netter from Graham Dickerson lifted the Wellington Dukes to a 4-2 win over the visiting Toronto Patriots in Ontario Junior Hockey League action Friday night at Lehigh Arena.

After being scored on a total of eight times in the first period during the previous two games, the Dukes didn’t allow a goal against the Patriots until early in the third.

“I think out team played well and had a much better first period than the two previous games,” said Harrison Ballard, who scored his 10th goal of the season which is tied for the team lead. “We’ve showed a lot of resiliency in the last three games, never giving up no matter the score and scoring at crucial times.”

Wellington took a 1-0 lead into the final frame after Will Mitchell opened the scoring in the third minute of the second period.

The Patriots tied the game twice in the third, starting with Nolan Lowe’s equalizer at the 3:18 mark.

Harrison Ballard responded with a power-play goal at 6:13 to give the Dukes a lead they held for a little over 10 minutes before Crossley Stewart capitalized on a man-advantage opportunity for the Patriots at 16:23.

The score was evened up for only 1:15 before Pierce put the Dukes in front for the final time, scoring with just 2:22 left on the clock. Dickerson scored into the empty net with 30 seconds to go and goaltender Kyle Curtin, who made 32 saves, on the bench.

Dukes netminder Matt Dunsmoor stopped 36 of the 38 shots he faced to record the win.

Wellington (10-8-0-2) has another home game Sunday afternoon as they welcome the Lindsay Muskies (9-10-0-3) to Lehigh Arena at 2:30 p.m.

The Muskies got off to a hot start to the season, but have lost seven in a row while the Dukes will look to build off of their past two victories.

“We’ve been building out foundation for the last few games and now we need to go on a roll,” Ballard said.