The Wellesley Applejacks lost for the first time in the young season, but a split in weekend play saw the team hold on to top spot in the Southern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
The Jacks defeated the Delhi Travellers Oct. 7, but dropped one while visiting the Dukes in St. George the following day.
On the road against the Travellers, the Jacks claimed a 4-3 victory.
Neither team scored in the first period, but that would change during the second as Jacks forward Corey Way potted one in the opening seconds of the period. Teammate Reid Denstedt was the hero of the day, notching a hat trick, including the game-winner, to put Wellesley up 4-0.
The Travellers would come back with goals from Marty MacDonald and Derek Friesen to end the period down 4-2.
Delhi made a game of it in the third when Reid Morrison cashed one, but were unable to capitalize again, giving the Jacks the win.
“This was a huge win for our team. We have been blown away down there for the last five years, so being on the road and beating this team was a huge lift for us,” said head coach Kevin Fitzpatrick of the visit to Delhi.
The next night Wellesley took on the Dukes at the South Dumfries Community Centre, dropping a 3-2 decision to the home team.
The Dukes opened the scoring with a shot from Nick Cole beating goaltender Jordan Bauman during a power play at 4:37.
With just less than five minutes left to play in the first period, the Dukes would take a 2-0 lead during another power play when Scott Thompson slipped the puck to Andrew Huddle, who found Andrew Swaniga as he sent it into the net.
The Jacks came out in the second period determined and were rewarded with a goal from Connor McLeod, with James Mildon claiming the assist at 7:35.
Parker McIntyre of the Dukes notched another goal for his team with five minutes remaining in the period to take a 3-1 lead.
As the third period began the Jacks went full out against the Dukes, with Blair Witmer squeezing one past Dukes’ netminder Tanner Armstrong to keep the game within one.
Unfortunately the Jacks were unable to profit during the rest of the period, with the final score favouring the Dukes 3-2.
“It was a struggle from start to finish. We didn’t play particularly well, but we didn’t play bad either. We needed some more intensity and we had lots of chances, hitting too many goal posts,” said Fitzpatrick. “It was one of those games that if we had had a break here or there the outcome would have been different.”
The Jacks took some bad penalties in the third period, breaking the flow of the game.
“You can’t take bad penalties at anytime but when you are really struggling as a team and you start to get something going then a penalty occurs it just zaps all the energy right away. We have to show up and play 60 minutes of hockey and not let the other team get to us,” said Fitzpatrick.
Wellesley is tied for first place in their division with the Hagersville Hawks and face off against the Dukes again today (Saturday).The game is their second annual breast cancer research benefit. All proceeds from program sales and donut and cider sales will be donated to breast cancer research. There will also be a display with information about the disease and a donation box to show support in the fight against breast cancer.
The Jacks are hoping anyone attending the game will be dressed in pink to show their support for the cause.