The Applejacks closed out their four-game home stand last weekend with a pair of close matches, a 3-2 win over the Hagersville Hawks on Friday night and a 3-2 shootout loss to the Tavistock Braves on Saturday.
Both games had a playoff atmosphere to them, and the head coach was pleased with his team’s performance, in particular their win over Hagersville.
“That was our best 60-minute effort all year,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick. “We were responsible in our own end, guys had great line changes, and they did everything we needed to do to win.”
The first period was controlled by the Hawks as they outshot the Jacks 15-6 and led 1-0 at the end of 20 minutes of play, courtesy of Jason Gadoury who beat goaltender Josh Heer with a shot at 6:56.
Wellesley fell behind 2-0 just over five minutes into the second period when Jesse Ross beat Heer with an unassisted goal at 5:14, but that goal gave Wellesley the wakeup call they needed and the team scored three straight goals just 3:26 apart to take a 3-2 lead heading into the third.
Mark Detzier put Wellesley on the board at 8:29 from Bobby Gray and Corey Way, Reid Denstedt tied it up at 10:57 from Shawn Fitzpatrick and Tyler Eckert, and Way gave the home team the lead at 11:55 from Mitch Metzger and Josh Herd.
The Jacks shut the Hawks down in the third, limiting them to just two shots on goal in the final frame as they held on for the victory.
The following night the Jacks welcomed the fifth-place Tavistock Braves to the Wellesley arena, but appeared to suffer from a bit of an emotional letdown after their high-energy win the night before.
Both teams skated to a 0-0 draw after the first period, with both goalies making 18 saves after 20 minutes. In the second, Tavistock took an early 1-0 lead at 7:16 from Nick Quehl, who fired a quick wrist shot from the slot past Heer’s glove into the top corner.
Wellesley responded with one of their own at 16:05 when the Jacks’ Brent Vickers squeezed a backhander past Corey Tuffnail. Matt Soveregn picked up the lone assist.
Their celebration was short-lived though, because Tavistock’s Charlie Malson won the next faceoff, skated the length of the ice untouched, and put a quick, low wrist shot past Heer on the blocker side just five seconds later.
The goal deflated the Wellesley bench as they headed into the final frame trailing 2-1 on the scoreboard and 31-28 on the shot clock.
In the third the Jacks didn’t let up and fired 15 more shots at Tuffnail, who was finally beaten with less than three minutes left to play in regulation.
Defenceman James Mildon took a wrist shot from the point which was deflected in front of the net by Soveregn at 17:01 to tie the game up at two.
Neither team could find the back of the net in overtime, sending the Jacks to their first shootout of the year.
Fitzpatrick said the team had made no emphasis on the shootout in practice, and it showed as the trio of Tyler Eckert, Brent Vickers and Corey Way were all unsuccessful in their attempts, and Josh Heer was beaten by the first shooter he faced, giving Tavistock the victory.
“That’s probably the best any goalie has played against us all year. I thought he was outstanding he was the difference,” said Fitzpatrick.
“Give them credit, they played a good game. We just got beat. We had our chances and couldn’t capitalize, and when we did their goalie was there.”
After hitting the road to take on Delhi Friday, the Jacks return home to face Ayr on Dec. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Wellesley currently sit third in the McConnell Conference standings with 28 points, eight behind Delhi for the conference lead.
The game on Dec. 28 marks the third annual Hockey Night in Wellesley event. All children who participated in the Kids and Cops event on Dec. 4 get free admission along with their families, and there will be a pre-game skate from 6-6:50 p.m.
The evening also marks the Kings annual teddy bear toss game, and when the Jacks score their first goal of the night fans can throw a new, wrapped bear onto the ice which will be donated to the Stratford General Hospital and other local charities. Admission for those who did not attend Kids and Cops will be $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and students, and $2 for children 12 and under.