Story by Brock Ormond
Photo: Wellington Dukes
The Wellington Dukes earned a milestone win on Friday night at Lehigh Arena.
Jacob Osborne’s 26 saves and Ryan Smith’s third-period game winning goal was part of a whole team effort to lift the Dukes to a 3-2 victory over the St. Michael’s Buzzers.
That was their 1,000th regular season win in franchise history, dating back to the organization’s days as the Belleville and Trenton Bobcats in the late 1980s.
Both Osborne and St. Michael’s netminder Jacob Gorinsky (41 saves) were outstanding in the opening period in keeping the game scoreless, but the Dukes had a few close calls.
Edward Moskowitz narrowly missed capitalizing on a turnover while the Dukes were shorthanded for the best opportunity.
Luke Perovic broke the ice by skipping a shot glove-side past Osborne halfway through the second period to give the Buzzers the lead, but Wellington answered with three unanswered markers.
Smith flung a lacrosse-style pass over two lines to captain Jacob Vreugdenhil, who knocked it down and used his patented speed to burst pass the falling Buzzers defender and beat Gorinsky through the five-hole.
Julien Jacob also assisted on Vreudenhil’s fourth of the season at 13:41.
Jaxen Boyer, a forward playing defence to fill an open spot, blasted a slapper off the post and in off a faceoff a few minutes later for his second of the year from Moskowitz and Lapalm to put Wellington in front.
After Wellington failed to score on five previous powerplay attempts, Vreugdenhil, Smith and David Campbell used their creativity to convert the eventual game-winning tally on the team’s sixth opportunity.
Smith beat Gorinsky on the give-and-go with Campbell for his fourth goal of the year at 5:01.
Perovic did get one back for St. Mike’s at 9:28, but Osborne and the Dukes shut the door the rest of the night to give the Dukes their historic win.
Head Coach Derek Smith said he was honoured to see the victory up close.
“I’m blessed to be part of such a historic franchise as a player and coach and be around such a special group of people,” he said.
“Congrats to all of the men and women, past and present who have help shape this organization.”
Former long-time head coach and general manager Marty Abrams (1999-03, 2005-17), who now mans the bench with the Central Canada League’s Navan Grads, stated his pride for his ex-team and its rich history.
“Passion, Pride and Tradition were the words we placed into our new dressing room back in 2010. Those words have been the foundation for years of organizational success both on and off the ice, leading to the club’s 1000th victory,” he stated.
“Congratulations to the entire Dukes program, including the countless billet families, volunteers, sponsors, fans, staff and players.”
As for the season at hand, the Dukes improve to 4-2 with eight points. They will be off for more than a week before opening October with a road game against the Haliburton County Huskies next Saturday at 3 p.m.