DRYDEN, Ont. – The Wellington Dukes (OJHL) used the strength of a four-goal second period to send them on their way to an eventual 6-3 victory over the Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL) in semifinal action Friday at the 2018 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A Championship at Dryden Memorial Arena.
With the result, Wellington will now meet the host Dryden GM Ice Dogs Saturday at 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET in the title game.
The winner there will advance to represent the Central region at the RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A Championship, May 12-20, in Chilliwack, B.C.
Friday’s contest saw Thunder Bay get on the board in the late stages of a power play as Owen Belisle got it over to Alex Leonidis who shoveled the puck on net as it trickled under Wellington starter Jonah Capriotti where a waiting Joel Willan stuffed it in at 10:44.
Wellington would come out quickly in the middle session and level the proceedings just over a minute in as Geoff Lawson snapped a shot from the left point that was redirected by Nelson Powers who was parked in front of North Stars’ netminder Brandon Bodnar.
Taking advantage of a Thunder Bay giveaway in their own zone, the Dukes took the lead at 6:06 as Jackson Arcan darted around the net and fed an open Declan Carlisle at the left face-off dot who wired a quick shot into the top right hand corner to put the OJHL Buckland Trophy holders on top.
The Wellington onslaught continued a couple shifts later as they caught a defender out of position and came in on a two-on-one with Mitchell Mendonca sending a crisp cross-ice pass over to Frank Pucci, who whipped a one-timer past a sprawled Bodnar to make it 3-1 with over a half a game to play.
Pushing the pace, the Dukes added another before the frame was complete as Mendonca swiped the puck off a North Stars skater right and front and buried his club’s fourth of the period to take control.
Knowing their season was on the line, Thunder Bay stormed out of the gate to begin the third getting a pair of quick markers off the sticks of forward Alex Maticic and defenceman Joe Newhouse as the duo connected from the slot to pull them to within one.
Going on the man advantage, Wellington extended their cushion at 9:05 as Carlisle and Zach Uens worked it nicely at the point over to Bryce Yetman, who rifled a shot from the right side to give his side a two-tally cushion.
The Dukes then capped off the victory in the waning moments of the contest as Arcan iced it with an empty netter to secure the victory.
Player of the game laurels went to Yetman of Wellington and Thunder Bay’s Brendan Gillis.
The North Stars outshot the Dukes 46-31 with Capriotti picking up the win while Bodnar suffered the season-ending setback.
Photo credit: Tim Bates, DHC/OJHL Images