The Ottawa Junior Senators opened the 2018 RBC Cup with a win Saturday afternoon, downing the Wellington Dukes 2-1 at Prospera Centre.
Ben Evans netted the winner 1:01 into overtime as the Eastern reps outlasted their Central counterparts in the first game of the preliminary round.
Ottawa looked like the better team in the opening minutes and earned three early power play opportunities. But the Senators couldn’t cash in, and you suspected it might come back to haunt them.
Sure enough, when the Dukes got their first PP chance late in the opening frame, they turned it into a 1-0 lead.
Back to back minors to Ottawa’s Darcy Walsh (kneeing) and Devon Daniels (unsportsmanlike conduct) set Wellington up with a five-on-three for 1:28. With both players still seething in the sin bin, Ben Evans started the scoring play with a heavy hit along the right-wing wall. D-man Mason Snell collected the loose puck and teed up a rocket shot from the point. Ottawa goalie Connor Hicks couldn’t coral the rebound, which squirted off to the side. Shooting from the bottom of the right faceoff circle at a sharp angle, Frank Pucci was able to sneak a glove-side shot past the goalie.
The Senators turned the tables in period two, dominating possession while limiting the Dukes to just three shots on net.
Ottawa got on the scoreboard at 3:15 on a goal by Elie Boulerice. Teammate Finn Evans earned the only assist, collecting the puck near his own blueline and feeding a pass up the right wing. Gathering speed through the neutral zone, Boulerice flew across the Dukes blueline and into the right faceoff circle. The 19 year old went far-side with his shot, picking the top left corner over the blocker of Wellington netminder Jonah Capriotti.
The Dukes didn’t record their first shot of the middle frame until the 9:45 mark, when Mitchell Martan was finally able to put a puck on Hicks.
Ottawa pressed hard for the go-ahead goal and nearly got it when Isaac Anderson was left uncovered in front of the Wellington net. Anderson went to the backhand, but Capriotti was able to stretch out with his right leg to make the stop.
The Dukes made it to the intermission tied 1-1, and battled Ottawa through a much more evenly-played third period to make it to overtime.
Extra time in the RBC Cup preliminary round is 10 minutes of four-on-four followed by a shootout, but the Senators took just 1:01 to net the winner.
The power play that went 0-6 in regulation time produced the goal, off the stick of Salloum. Wellington’s Zach Uens put the Sens on the PP, tackling Ottawa forward Gabriel Morin as he drove hard to the net. Working four-on-three, Ottawa defenceman Zachary Salloum took a wrister from the point that was tipped by Evans and squibbed through the legs of Capriotti and dribbled across the goal-line.