The Wellesley Applejacks saw their five-game winning streak snapped last weekend with a pair of heart-breaking overtime losses to the Tavistock Braves at home on Saturday night and in Burford against the Bulldogs on Sunday night.
Head coach Kevin Fitzpatrick didn’t mince any words about either loss.
“I don’t take any consolation out of the point from either game, quite frankly. We were pretty disappointed in the outcome.”
Saturday night featured the first re-match against the Braves after the Jacks’ 3-1 season-opener loss back on Sept. 17, and the game started poorly for the Wellesley squad.
They were outplayed and outhustled for much of the first period, and trailed 2-1 after the opening 20 minutes. Tavistock had the first five or six shots on goal of the game, and hemmed the Jacks in their own zone for extended periods of time.
If it weren’t for the play of goaltender Kurt Martin, it could have been a lot worse as well. He made several outstanding saves early on to keep Wellesley in the game. Tavistock broke through only 1:07 in with a quick wrist shot from Mac Kalbfleisch that beat Martin on the blocker side.
Wellesley managed to weather the storm, however, and came back with one of their own at 3:58 with Rob Hinschberger’s third of the season, assisted by Justin Roeder. Wellesley crashed and banged the net looking for a loose puck, and managed to shovel it across the line before the net came off its moorings.
The second period, however, was a very different one. Wellesley stormed out of the gates from the opening whistle and potted three unanswered goals; Chris Bauman at 2:25 from Read Shantz, Josh Herd at 3:05 from Corey Way and Shown Fitzpatrick, and Hinschberger scored his second of the night at 15:21 from Bauman. The play started on a good dump-and-chase by Kevin Howorth when he knocked a Tavistock defender off the puck with a solid check, and it went straight to Hinschberger who made a nice shot to the top corner. The Braves would respond with one of their own before the end of the period to make it 4-3.
Heading into the third, the Jacks wanted to continue their strong play, but an early goal at 1:07 by Tavistock’s Charlie Rowland knotted the game up at four. A few minutes later, with Read Shantz in the box for hooking, Jacks forward Michael Forster broke in alone on the penalty kill but was hauled down by the Tavistock defender, leading to a penalty shot. Way was chosen to take the shot and made no mistake, as he faked forehand and switched to his backhand, restoring the one-goal lead.
After good pressure throughout the second and into the early part of the third, the Jacks appeared take their foot off the gas, and Tavistock took advantage. They dominated the second half of the third and eventually tied it up at 16:47, forcing overtime.
The on-ice officials, who had allowed the play to flow all night by calling only two penalties against each team, appeared to miss a key interference call against Tavistock in overtime, leading to a break the opposite way and the winning goal at 3:55.
Fans and players were irate over the non-call.
“I missed that totally, but I’ve heard that from a lot of people,” said Fitzpatrick. “If you have to depend on a call from the referee, you probably shouldn’t have won the hockey game. All I know is that I had two people on the ice that should have done their job, and we wouldn’t be talking about the referee.”
Both teams played with pink skate laces and pink tape on their sticks to support breast cancer awareness month, and the team also had a donation box at the front table to collect donations as well.
The following night in Burford, the Jacks got off to another poor start. They found themselves down 4-1 early in the third period before they managed to turn the game around to force overtime. Spencer Aspden scored at 7:54 from Way to cut the deficit to 4-2; Geoff Parr added another less than a minute later from Hinschberger; and Eric Parr completed the comeback at 18:22 on the powerplay from Shantz and Bauman.
Fitzpatrick wasn’t pleased with the fact the team had to come back from 4-1 to tie it, though. “We came back, but why didn’t we do that in the first and second period?”
Burford sealed the victory at 1:47 of the extra period on a goal by Nathan Boyle, handing the Jacks their second loss in as many nights.
“We had too many guys not willing to do the work that their players were willing to do to contribute defensively, and that was disappointing. When we’re playing good teams, they’ve got to play better,” the coach noted.
Prior to last weekend, the Jacks had only played one overtime game this season, a 3-2 victory over Ayr on Oct. 21.
The Jacks remain in third place in the SOJHL standings, four points behind league-leader Tavistock. They suit up again Sunday to take on the Sailors in Port Dover at 2 p.m.. Their next home game is on Nov. 19 when they play the Ayr Centennials at 8:30 p.m.