Story by Brock Ormond
Photo: Devin Doucette/OJHL Images
A local player was a hero of sorts for the Wellington Dukes on Friday.
Madoc’s Connor Hunt squeaked a shot across the goal line with 10-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third period, and it counted largely as the game-winner in a 4-3 Dukes victory over the Aurora Tigers.
Hunt’s goal was the culmination of a tight hockey game that started quickly for the visiting Tigers.
Lucas Stanojevic beat Ethan Morrow off the left wing just 18 seconds into Aurora’s first visit to Wellington since January of 2020, but the Dukes did answer with two quick tallies of their own.
Stirling-Rawdon’s Luke Lapalm, in his Dukes debut, went on a persistent forecheck that forced the Tigers defence to cough the puck up to David Campbell, who hit Ryan Smith for a backdoor finish to even the score less than a minute after the opening goal.
Smith’s second of the year was followed by Corbin Roach burying a rebound in front of Mason Meyer to chase the Tigers netminder.
Edward Moskowitz and Graeme MacAuley drew the assists on the Belleville native’s second tally of the year at 4:01.
The game settled down after the rapid start and Glen Crandall came off the bench in relief to shut the door for the rest of the period.
Lapalm was rewarded for a good first game of the season just 1:38 into the second frame when he beat Crandall from the high slot on a broken play.
Smith and Campbell each picked up their second points of the game with assists.
However, Aurora was not willing to go away and overcame some penalty trouble to notch a shorthanded goal, courtesy of Mathison Mason and a powerplay marker from Connor Van Weelie before the end of the second.
That set the stage for Hunt’s winner almost halfway through the third, assisted by Erik MacNeil and Jaxen Boyer.
The Tigers gave it a good effort in the late stages, but Morrow saved the best of his 17 saves for last, denying Stanojevic of a sure goal at the far post to preserve the win.
The Dukes’ outshot the Tigers 32-20 to hand the North division team their first loss of the season, and improve to 2-1 themselves.
The top line of Lapalm, Smith, and Campbell combined for six points to give the Dukes a boost going into the Governors Showcase this week.
Wellington will play the Caledon Admirals at 3:30 p.m. Monday, then take a day’s break before playing Wednesday morning at 10:30 against the St. Michael’s Buzzers.