The Wellesley Applejacks closed the book on a 14-game losing streak last weekend, hammering Tavistock 8-4 on Jan. 9. The Jacks weren’t able to make it two in a row, however, going down 5-3 to Exeter on home ice the following night.
In Friday’s match, the Jacks let loose some of the frustration of the past two months, pounding in pucks at even strength, on the power play and shorthanded. Wellesley built up a 7-0 lead before Tavistock finally climbed on the board near the end of the second period.
The blitz started midway through the first period, when Rob Bolger notched Wellesley’s first goal on a line from Eric Parr and Pat Doyle. A minute and a half later, Ben Jeffries made it two on the power play, with an assist from Dan Berwick.
With four minutes left in the first, and Chris Armstrong in the box for holding, Berwick fed the puck to Matt Snyder, who powered a shorthanded goal into the net. Forty-nine seconds later, Berwick snagged a loose puck, raced down the ice and beat Tavistock’s keeper unassisted for a second shorthanded goal.
The Jacks kept up the momentum in the second period, with Bolger (Doyle) scoring a fast one just 19 seconds in. When Tavistock’s Blair MacKay was handed a roughing penalty, Scott Litt (Mike Moggy, Berwick) converted on the power play at 6:30.
Berwick made it 7-0 for Wellesley at 11:18, knocking in his second goal of the game on a feed from Jeff McAllister.
Wellesley’s defensive effort slipped at the end of the second period, allowing the Braves to climb on the scoreboard. Jeff Pickel scored Tavistock’s first goal on a power play with four and half minutes left. Thirty seconds later, Brett Meadows powered in an unassisted goal to make it 7-2 as the teams headed for the dressing room.
In the third period, the Jacks racked up 19 minutes in penalties, and Tavistock made good on two more power play efforts, with goals notched by Marcus Yantzi and Pickel. But Wellesley’s lead put a comeback out of reach. Bolger cemented the win for the Jacks at 16:27, scoring unassisted and completing a hat trick.
On Jan. 10, the Jacks returned home looking to start a streak of the winning kind, but those hopes were dashed by the visiting Exeter Hawks. Wellesley’s penalty killing was again a vulnerable point, as Exeter converted on three of five power plays.
The Jacks were first on the board two minutes in, with Parr (Bolger, Doyle) knocking the puck in. Exeter answered back with their first power play goal at 7:20, from Brandon Dymond.
Exeter went on a romp early in the second period, scoring three goals in quick succession. Three minutes in, Justin Anstett snagged a cross in front of the net and smacked it in.
Then Snyder was handed a five-minute major penalty and a two game suspension for checking from behind. The penalty hurt the Jacks, as Exeter scored twice on the power play, both goals coming from Justin Reid.
“That was a questionable call,” said general manager Dave Litt after the game, noting the referee admitted he hadn’t seen it happen.
“To give him a five-minute check-from-behind [penalty] when he didn’t see? I’d want to make sure before you set a guy out for two games.”
Down 4-1, Wellesley wasn’t out of the game yet. After a barrage of shots and rebounds, Bolger finally pounded the puck at 13:43. Anstett logged another point for Exeter before Berwick snagged a loose puck near the blue line, carried it in and beat Hawks’ keeper Mike Siddall. The period ended with Exeter up 5-3.
Exeter widened their lead with a goal from Jake Jeffrey 1:25 into the third. Seconds later, Thomas Harnett intercepted a lacklustre pass and outran Wellesley’s defense for an unassisted goal. The Jacks managed only 10 shots over the period and turned one into a goal, when Berwick mashed the rubber into the back of the net with five minutes remaining. The game ended 7-4.
“I don’t think we were mentally prepared to play the hockey game,” Litt said Saturday. “I don’t think [Friday’s win] was a fluke. I think that was the true hockey team.”
Despite a record of 6-19-4, the Jacks aren’t giving up, he promised.
“There’s no quit in this organization. We’re going to battle until it’s all over.”
The Jacks have a busy schedule this week, facing off against Ayr Thursday night, returning home to meet Hagersville on Friday and returning to Ayr on Sunday. Three of the Applejacks – Dan Berwick, Chris Armstrong and Pat Doyle – will also be playing in the league’s all-star game today (Saturday). The all-star game is being played in Delhi this year; the puck drops at 7:30 p.m.