A spectacular night honouring the past ended in heartbreak for the Wellington Dukes on Friday.
Welcoming more than 30 alumni to the Duke Dome for their home and season opener, the team lost a 3-1 lead on back-to-back powerplay markers in the third period and then fell in overtime 4-3 to the Toronto Jr. Canadiens.
Luc Malkhassian deked Wellington goalie Jack Lisson at the 3:34 mark of the first extra period to send the Jr. Canadiens home with two points.
That followed goals from Jay Feldberg and Dylan Bly, two fellow returnees from last season’s regular season conference champions, on a Wellington double-minor penalty.
After spotting the Jr. Canadiens a first period marker from another multi-year player Jordan Karafile, the Dukes came to life in the middle frame, rattling off three markers.
Montreal, Quebec native Dimitri Tzaferis picked off an errant Toronto pass and set up province-mate Liam Lucas to capitalize at 10:08, before launching a cross-ice pass to Mason Goodfellow for a laser off the left wing for his first junior goal exactly two minutes later.
With help from Hayden Pimm, Sacha Trudel added onto the lead at 14:20, taking a second crack at a loose puck and putting it over Toronto goaltender Sergei Litvinov, before the Jr. Canadiens started their comeback.
In spite of the loss, Lisson made 38 saves on 42 shots, making some brilliant and agile stops off the Jr. Canadiens relentless offensive attack.
The 35th anniversary season opener featured photo opportunities with past players and performances by The Rickartons band, as well as the honouring of former team coach/GM/owner Garry Lavender and the Lavender family at large for their various contributions to the Dukes organization.
The Dukes are on the road for the first time in the regular season to Pickering for a fight with the Panthers at 7:30 p.m. Sunday night.