Story by Brock Ormond
Photo: Wellington Dukes/OJHL Images
It was a gratifying series clincher for the Wellington Dukes on Thursday night.
Luke LaPalm’s fourth goal of the series on a powerplay with 7:10 remaining in the third period and Jacob Osborne’s goaltending proved to be the difference in Wellington’s 3-2 dispatching of Haliburton in Game 4 of the Southeast Conference Semifinals.
That helped the Dukes sweep the series in four straight games.
Much like in Game 3, Wellington road a fast start to a 2-0 lead, with Barret Joynt opening the scoring on a rush started by the elusiveness of Jared Langdon and the keen playmaking eyes of Corbin Roach.
Joynt’s seventh of the playoffs came at 3:31 of the first, and was followed by a Luke Strickland powerplay marker from LaPalm and David Campbell at 14:12.
Josh Currie provided an answer on a Husky powerplay before the period ended to make the score 2-1 going into the first intermission.
The Huskies poured the rubber on Osborne in period two, but the 20- year old Dukes goaltender was there at every turn to steal away chances.
LaPalm provided the eventual game-winner on a shot that hit the far post and in with the Dukes a man ahead with five minutes and change left.
Strickland continued his hot playoffs with an assist and Campbell chipped in his second helper of the night.
A Marco Iozzo shorthanded marker pulled the Huskies back to within one, but that is as close as the Huskies got as their season came to an end.
A rough-and-tumble series had a bitter end to it, with Julien Jacob and Sam Solarino engaging in some fisticuffs after the final buzzer and the rare cancelling of the handshake line, with only Dukes coach Derek Smith and Haliburton bench boss Ryan Ramsay embracing at the end.
In the end, the Dukes came out on top to run their postseason record to 8-1 this year.
Osborne was the star of the night, making 46 saves en route to his fifth consecutive postseason victory and 7th overall, keeping the Dukes ahead against a hungry Huskies attack through most of the game.
The win will send the Dukes to the Southeast Conference Final, which will pit them against either the Trenton Golden Hawks or Toronto Jr. Canadiens. A full schedule will be revealed once the other series ends.