Friday, May 06, 2011


Just another Bump in the Road

The Wellington Dukes went into last night’s game with their proverbial backs to the wall. Quite simply: win, and play again, or lose, and go home.
They defeated the Portage Terriers 6-3, earning a spot in the semi-finals of the Royal Bank Cup championships in Camrose, Alberta. The Dukes will play the Vernon Vipers on Saturday afternoon at 2:00pm Alberta time.

The Vipers defeated the Dukes in the preliminary round. It was not, however, as humiliating as the locals would have it. “VIPERS TOY WITH DUKES” read the headline in the Thursday, May 5th edition of the Edmonton Sun. Then a sub headline added: “Doyle Cup champs put serious crimp in Ontario rep’s playoff aspirations.”

The Dukes are in the playoffs following their dramatic victory over the Terriers. In a nutshell, the Dukes, the Terriers, and the Pembroke Lumber Kings finished the round robin with a win and three losses each. The number crunchers at Hockey Canada huddled, punched the data into the laptop, and declared the semi-finalists.

Joe Zarbo got the Dukes off to a quick start at the four minute mark of the first period. Sean Rudy had won a battle in the corner for the puck, and fed it to Zarbo, who demonstrated a nifty deke before beating the Terrier starter Jason Kasdorf. Two minutes later, Steve Evans fired a shot which hit Kasdorf on the shoulder, then carried into the net. Terrier coach replaced Kasdorf with Kirk Crosswell at that time.

A questionable goalie interference call nullified a third Dukes’ goal at the end of the period.

The Dukes added to their total in the second period on Evans’ second goal, a neat shot from the slot with helpers from Rudy and Zarbo. The Terriers got on the board when Tyler Moore banged in a rebound at the edge of the crease five minutes into the period.

On the next Dukes’ power play, Brian Bunnett fed a nifty pass to Darcy Greenaway who made no mistake in putting the Dukes up 4-1. Bunnett then added a marker of his own on a power play, with help from Greenaway and Murphy.

Jordan Ruby demonstrated his athletic skills for the next several minutes. He robbed Brendan Harms at point blank range as he slid across the front of the net. Tanner Walvogel and Tyler Moore also went to the Terrier bench wondering how to beat the Dukes’ netminder.

Sean Rudy again found himself in the corner fighting for the puck to start the third period. Again, he won the battle. And once again, his feed to Zarbo was on the mark, resulting in the Dukes’ sixth marker.

Cory Moore was credited with the Terriers second goal, a point shot that changed direction in front of Ruby. On another deflected shot, Yvan Pattyn’s blue line drive eluded Ruby to put the score at 6-3.

And that, said the barker, was “all she wrote”. The Dukes had just enough markers on the board to earn a playoff berth.

Sean Rudy was naturally excited after learning of the Dukes’ success. “We started this game full of energy. We were ready to go. We knew what we had to do.” Linemate Zarbo had a slightly different approach: “We weren’t thinking about moving on or anything like that. We just wanted to play basic hockey.”

Marty Abrams was not surprised at the Dukes goal total. “We have been hot and cold all year, in terms of scoring. Better late than never! But I was really happy with our power play today.”

Notes: The Dukes had held the lead for only 9:33 in their first three games. They had taken the most shots on goal (100), with the fewest goals (6). The game was the first ever for the Dukes against a team from Manitoba.

A relaxed and smiling Jordan Ruby leads his teammates through the phalanx created by Dukes’ supporters as the team boards the bus to the game. A tradition started in Charlottetown, in 2003, the rally seems to spur on the Dukes. Obviously, the result was satisfactory against Portage.

James Hurst
May 6, 2011
Camrose, Alberta.

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