It will be a battle of Quinte area teams in the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s South-East Conference final as the Wellington Dukes take on the Trenton Golden Hawks.
After the Dukes completed a four-game sweep over the Haliburton County Huskies in one conference semifinal match-up, the Golden Hawks fended off a big rally from the OJHL’s top team during the regular season in the other semifinal.
The Toronto Jr. Canadiens rallied from a 3-0 series deficit before the Golden Hawks pulled out an overtime win in Game 7 on Sunday night.
Sam Williamson scored 1:38 into the extra frame to give Trenton the 2-1 victory in front of 900 spectators at the Scotiabank Pond in Toronto.
Wellington (37-12-3-2) finished second in the conference standings four points ahead of fourth-place Trenton (36-15-0-3). The Dukes won the Hasty P’s Cup regular season head-to-head battle between the two clubs with wins over 5-3 Nov. 18, 2-1 Dec. 18, 6-3 Feb. 10 and losses of 2-1 Oct. 21 and 3-2 Feb. 26.
The last time local fans were treated to playoff match-up between the two clubs was 2016 when the Golden Hawks eliminated the Dukes in five games in the second round en route to capturing the OJHL’s Buckland Cup championship and former Dudley Hewitt Cup Central Canadian championship before competing for the national title.
Trenton and Wellington were set to square off again in March 2020 when the playoffs were postponed and ultimately cancelled due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch for the schedule to be released for the 2023 Dukes-Golden Hawks playoff series. The winner of that best-of-seven showdown will move on to face the winner of the North-West Conference final between the Collingwood Blues and Burlington Cougars for the Buckland Cup.
The OJHL champion will qualify for the Centennial Cup national championship tournament May 11-21 in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.