The Wellesley Applejacks got a late Christmas gift to end the year when they defeated the Ayr Centennials 6-5 in overtime at home on Dec. 28. Josh Herd and Connor McLeod led the way with three points apiece, and Josh Heer made 44 saves for the win.
“There were 11 goals scored, so it was a great game for the fans,” said head coach Kevin Fitzpatrick. “I think the only two people not happy were me and Josh Heer.”
The Jacks opened the scoring with the man-advantage at 12:58 when Corey Way tallied his team-leading 17th goal of the year from Herd and Kevin Howorth.
Ayr didn’t take long to respond, however, as Tyle Gauthier tied the game less than two minutes later from Scott Sippel at 14:20 of the first.
The teams entered the first intermission tied, with Ayr holding a 19-13 edge in shots.
In the second, Wellesley broke the game open thanks to a pair of quick goals by McLeod, who scored at 4:11 from Matt Sovereign and again at 7:31 from Herd and Rob Hinschberger.
The Centennials’ Jordan Eby got Ayr back in the match when he beat Heer at 10:30 from Sippel.
Derek Lebold was sent to the box for holding at 12:51, giving Ayr the opportunity to tie the match, but instead Brett Vickers restored Wellesley’s two goal cushion with a shorthanded goal at 14:48 from McLeod to make it 4-2.
The scoring continued at a torrid pace with Ayr’s Andrew Tapsell making it 4-3 at 17:06, before Way scored his second of the night just 19 seconds later to put Wellesley up 5-3 heading into the third period.
The Centennials wouldn’t go quietly, however, and managed to crawl back into the match.
Tapsell tallied a powerplay marker early from Declan Kaster for his second goal of the night at 3:24 to give Ayr hope of a comeback, and the pair teamed up again at 14:44 with Tapsell finishing off the hat trick to send the game to overtime.
Wellesley wouldn’t let this one slip away, however, and the Jacks sealed the win thanks to Herd’s first goal – and third point – of the night from Hinschberger and Geoff Parr just 34 seconds into the extra frame.
Despite losing the lead, Fitzpatrick was pleased with the way his team controlled much of the game.
“They came in spurts, we came in waves,” he said.
When the Jacks scored their first goal of the game, the fans also tossed a record 137 teddy bears onto the ice. The bears will make their way to Stratford General Hospital and to other local charities.
After facing off against Burford (8-16-2) on Friday night, the Jacks (15-7-2) are right back at it Saturday when they take on the lowly Norfolk Rebels (1-19-3). Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Fitzpatrick said despite the poor record of both teams, they aren’t looking past them.
“Burford plays tough every game, and if you look at Norfolk they’re in about 90 per cent of their games until the third period. We have five weeks until the playoffs, and we have to run the table here.”