Dukes roughed up in Buffalo

Story by Brock Ormond

Wednesday’s game south of the border was one to learn from for the Wellington Dukes.

The team’s five-game point streak to begin the season came to a crashing end with a 7-3 defeat to the Buffalo Junior Sabres in their first visit to western New York in four years.

A long road trip, combined with a longer pre-game ceremony in honour of Junior Sabres governor Larry Playfair and the team’s first home opener since 2019 due to COVID-19 border restrictions possibly contributed to a shaky start for the Dukes.

Haeden Ellis struck only 13 seconds into the game, beating Jack Lisson to put the Dukes behind.

Zander Latreille eventually answered late in a powerplay, taking a feed from Dimitri Tzaferis and deking out Buffalo goaltender Aiden McKenna before depositing a backhand shot into the back of the net for his second of the season at 11:09.

Both teams traded off a couple more powerplay markers, with Dylan McFadden ripping home one for Buffalo and Connor Hunt getting a touch on a Colin Smith shot for his second of the season.

Will Mitchell added the secondary assist.

The Junior Sabres finished off the back-and-forth first period with another goal from McFadden and took over the game from there.

Jaden Ward’s marker 3:23 into the second forced Dukes head coach Kent Lewis to pull Lisson from the net in favour of Nolan Lane, but things didn’t improve for Wellington.

Patrick Cole notched a pair for Buffalo and Josh Przystal added the touchdown marker to finish off Wellington.

Cory Jewitt tacked on his fifth of the year in garbage time from Hunt to round out the scoring.

A highlight of the evening was the debut of Trenton native Ethan Quick, who had 26 points in his rookie junior season with the Dukes in 2021-22. He suited up for the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s and Barrie Colts last season.

Wellington’s first regulation loss of the 2023-24 OJHL season sends their record to 3-1-0-2 ahead of the team’s return home to face the Caledon Admirals at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.