The Wellesley Applejacks put up a valiant effort against the Tavistock Braves Dec. 13, but suffered a heartbreaking defeat with five seconds left in overtime.
“It’s frustrating, there’s a bunch of frustrated players in there,” said general manager Dave Litt, gesturing to the dressing room after the game.
“I feel we were the better team out there tonight; I thought tonight was going to be our night.”
The Jacks are struggling to snap a losing streak that now extends to 10 games. The team has forced overtime periods three times and a shootout once, but hasn’t been able to emerge with the win.
On Saturday, Wellesley built up a two-goal lead in the first period, only to see Tavistock whittle it down to nothing.
Matt Snyder led off the scoring on a power play five minutes in; Chris Armstrong and Read Shantz notched assists. At 11:37, Rob Bolger made it 2-0 for Wellesley on a feed from Ryan Kuepfer.
The Jacks then ran into penalty trouble, as the Braves capitalized on two of three power plays during the period. Evan Hebebrand (Marcus Yantzi, Devin Berg) logged the Braves’ first point at 13:59 and Adam Renkema followed it up with a second goal less than two minutes later, on a feed from Yantzi.
In the second period, the two teams hacked back and forth, but neither was able to find the mesh. The Jacks were sluggish around the Braves’ net, firing a meager five shots to Tavistock’s 16, and the only close chance bounced off the crossbar.
“Second period we took the period off, that was a terrible period,” Litt said. The teams headed to the dressing room still locked in a 2-2 tie.
With eight minutes left in the period, the Jacks thought they had scored the tie-breaker, but the goal was called back because a player was in the crease. Instead it was Tavistock that took the lead at 14:24, when Dan Kalbfleisch potted one on a feed from Mike Davis.
After sitting on the edge of their seats most of the game, the hometown crowd erupted when Wellesley tied things up with three minutes left in the game. After a blitz of shots, Chris Givlin (Ben Jefferies, Dan Berwick) finally dumped the puck in the net.
Neither team could secure the win and they headed back on the ice for five minutes of overtime. With 1:15 to go, the Jacks were handed a penalty, ensuring they’d be down a man for the rest of overtime.
The focus shifted to killing the penalty and forcing a shootout, and Wellesley was on the verge of pulling it off when Renkema (Mike Davis) scored with five seconds left, crushing the Jacks’ hopes.
“It’s a tough loss,” Litt said. “They scored three [goals] on the power play, so that hurt us.”
Litt said he remains optimistic that the team will eventually get some breaks and turn things around.
“We need to play 60 minutes of hockey consistently,” he said. “We’ve got to work hard for 60 minutes and get some breaks.”
After facing off against Thamesford Friday, the Jacks are back at home against Ayr tonight (Saturday). Game time is 7:30 p.m.