Dukes eliminated with overtime loss

Story by Brock Ormond

Photo: OJHL Images/Wellington Dukes

An overtime defeat spelled the end of the 35th anniversary Wellington Dukes season.

Will Gourgavelis spoiled the Dukes efforts to draw back in the series by jamming in the winner 2:39 into the extra session as the Toronto Jr. Canadiens eliminated them in five games in the Buckland Cup quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon.

Wellington put forth an outstanding effort in its last game of the year, outshooting Toronto in the first two periods and getting back to the physical brand of hockey they were known for all season.

Ryan Schaap got the Dukes on the board first on a powerplay tally that squeezed through a crowded Toronto crease and through Sergei Litvinov at 10:43 of the opening frame.

That goal hung up for a good while, in spite of several dangerous chances from both sides.

Justin Pare was full value for blocking shots on a late penalty kill in the second, giving his team a chance in his final junior game.

The Dukes ran into penalty trouble in the third and the Jr Canadiens finally found a dent in Shane Shelest’s armour.

Luc Malkhassian took advantage of two overlapping penalties and zinged one home through traffic for the equalizing goal at the 8:17 mark.

Neither team usurped the other in regulation and overtime was necessary.

After a missed open net chance by Nick Athanasakos, the puck got funnelled to the net and Gourgavelis chipped in the series clincher past Shelest to deliver more heartbreak to Wellington and its faithful.

The final shots favoured Wellington 35-32, with Shelest making 30 saves in his last-ever start in junior hockey.

Despite the end result, the Dukes were full value for their 35 wins, 73 points and 35th straight consecutive playoff appearance and for rebounding to rebuild almost an entire roster to finish in the top four of a tightly packed Eastern Conference.

The Dukes will be sending off overagers Dimitri Tzaferis, Shane Shelest, Josh Rumolo, Justin Pare, Pana Efraimidis and Connor Loerzel to their futures and thank them for their service to the organization.

Stay tuned to the Dukes website and social media pages throughout the offseason for transactions, training camp details, alumni updates and other team news.