Special teams were the deciding factor Dec. 11 as the Wellesley Applejacks lost 5-4 on the road in Hagersville.
Six of the nine goals were scored on the powerplay, and a total of 23 penalties were handed out to the teams in an infraction-filled affair. Wellesley finished 3-for-7, while Hagersville went 3-for-9 with the man advantage.
“It was one of the poorest refereed games I had seen in a long time,” said head coach Kevin Fitzpatrick. “They were just inconsistent, that is probably the best way to put it.”
Wellesley played a solid first period that saw both teams assessed six penalties, and in which the Hawks outshot the Jacks 13-12. Apple Jack Matt Aspden had the only goal of the period at 17:25 on the powerplay, unassisted.
Corey Way gave the visitors a 2-0 lead just 0:48 into the second period with another powerplay goal, from Eric Parr and Read Shantz. From there the Jacks looked poised to steal one on the road, but Hagersville had other plans.
The Hawks would respond by scoring four unanswered goals to finish the period – three of them on the powerplay – to take a 4-2 lead into the dressing room after 40 minutes. The Jacks were badly outplayed, and were outshot 21-11 in the second.
“We blew a two-goal lead and took a number of bad penalties. The second period was not a good period,” said Fitzpatrick. “It was the worst we had been outshot all year.”
Wellesley stormed back in the third with a goal from Aspden at 3:23 from Mark Hamilton and Jake Steenson on the powerplay at 3:23, and from Shawn Fitzpatrick at 10:28 from Shantz and Josh Herd, but they couldn’t sustain the momentum.
With time winding down in the third, Hagersville forward Derek Medeiros completed the hat-trick thanks to a bad giveaway in the Wellesley zone, scoring the winner at 18:25 of the third. It was the Jacks fifth loss in their past six games, and they now sit tied for fourth in the McConnell Conference with St. George with a record of 10-6-3 for 23 points.
Goalie Kurt Martin finished with 42 saves on the night, and kept the team in the game until the final buzzer.
“Kurt Martin had an outstanding game and gave us every opportunity to win, but we just did not have a good team effort and we had ample opportunity to take it to overtime, and we didn’t.”
Fitzpatrick said that although injuries and school exams have played a role in the team’s recent slide, the team needs to do a better job of adjusting to the teams and players they are facing.
“That’s one thing the guys have to learn, we have to adapt to the teams. One of the top players in the league had three goals against us, and you have to be aware of where they are on the ice,” he said.
“We’re going to do a few things differently in practice and try a couple things, but we have to be more responsible.”