Ted McGeen’s goal in the first minute of overtime gave the Wellington Dukes their first win of the 2018 RBC Cup Monday night as they topped the Steinbach Pistons 3-2 at Prospera Centre.
After falling behind by a pair midway through the second period, the Ontario Junior Hockey League champs roared back, evening their record at 1-1 and leaving Manitoba’s Pistons as the only team without a victory so far.
After a scoreless first period, it was Steinbach’s Reise Gaber opening scoring with an even strength goal 2:51 into period two. Easton Bennett did some spade work behind the Wellington net, digging the puck out on the forecheck. Gaber came out on the right side, trying to stuff the puck inside the post on the backhand. He was stopped by Dukes goaltender Jonah Capriotti, but he collected the rebound, wheeled 180 degrees while fighting off a Wellington defender and put a far-side shot inside the left post.
The Pistons doubled their lead at 9:15 on a power play goal by dynamic defenceman Darby Gula.
Drew Worrad set it up with a cross-ice pass, faceoff dot to faceoff dot. From the left dot, Gula rifled a top-shelf shot over Capriotti.
But the Dukes rolled from there, answering back at 11:45 with a shorthanded goal by Bryce Yetman.
Wellington had a brief five-on-three to kill seconds before Yetman’s tally. As the first penalty ended, Zach Uens hopped out of the box and pressured the Steinbach point man into making a weak pass into the slot. Dukes D-man Andrew Barbeau gathered up the puck and Yetman read the play perfectly, taking off through the neutral zone.
Getting behind the Pistons D and collecting the lead pass from Barbeau, Yetman had time to move in slowly and pick his spot. Steinbach goalie Matthew Thiessen made the first save as Yetman tried to go five-hole, but the Wellington forward was able to poke the puck through his legs on the second whack.
The news went from bad to worse for Thiessen, who exited the game in the final minute of the second period with an injury.
The goalie went behind his net and appeared to run into it on his way back to the crease. As play continued in his own zone, Thiessen slid side to side on his knees and when there was a stoppage he was helped off the ice to the Steinbach dressing room. Backup Matthew Radomsky came on in relief.
The second stringer is no slouch. In 28 regular season appearances he posted a 2.16 goals-against average with eight shutouts, five more than any other netminder in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, and the Winnipeg native needed to be razor sharp in a third period dominated by the Dukes, who came in waves searching for the equalizer.
Both teams showed an alarming lack of discipline in this one, combining for 15 power plays. Penalty problems for the Pistons led to the game tying power play goal by Wellington’s Mitchell Mendonca. Steinbach’s Bennett was in the sin bin for high sticking as Mendonca collected a loose puck to the left of the Pistons net and roofed a shot over Radomsky at 11:51.
Nine minutes and nine seconds later this game became the fourth of five RBC Cup games so far to go to overtime.
Wellington took just 59 seconds to end it as McGeen flew down the right wing and snapped a short-side shot past Radomsky.
The Dukes Player of the Game was Yetman while Steinbach’s Player of the Game award went to Gaber.
The tournament continues with two games tomorrow. The Ottawa Junior Senators and Wenatchee Wild face off at 2 p.m. and Wellington is back in action at 7 p.m. facing the host Chilliwack Chiefs.