Brett Vickers notched a hat trick to lead the Wellesley Applejacks to a 5-0 home win over the Burford Bulldogs Jan. 6. Not to be outdone, Corey Way followed that up the next night with a hat trick of his own to pace the home team to a 10-1 victory against the Norfolk Rebels.
Last weekend’s victories improved the Jacks’ record to 17-7-2, placing them in the third spot in the division standings behind the first-place Delhi Travellers (20-6) and the Hagersville Hawks.
“The boys played exceptionally well over the weekend, and Friday night’s game was easily the best the boys have performed all season,” said Wellesley head coach Kevin Fitzpatrick. “They played a complete 60 minutes of hockey both offensively and defensively, and you can’t ask for more than that.”
Vickers opened the scoring against the Bulldogs at the seven-minute mark of the contest courtesy of an assist from Way. It would be the only goal scored in a hard-fought first-period battle.
After the second intermission the Jacks came out flying, taking it to the Rebels who seemed sluggish returning to the ice after 20 minutes of play. Kevin Horworth found the back of the net just 1:23 into the frame. Forward Blair Witmer stole the rubber from a Bulldog defenceman, slipping it over to Shawn Fitzpatrick who would find Horworth alone on the right of Bulldogs’ goaltender Riley Carr. Horworth fired a one-timer below the glove of Carr to give the Jacks a 2-0 lead.
Vickers finished off the second frame by scoring two goals for the Jacks – who had been attacking vigorously for the remainder of the period – to give the home side four heading back to the room.
The third period saw a lot of action from both teams with nobody able to best the goalies until 22 seconds left in the frame when Rob Hinschberger would get the puck deep in Jack territory and move it to centre ice before finding Mitch Metzger, who beat two defencemen on his way to the net only to pass it at the last second to Tyler Eckert catching Burford’s Carr off guard as he slipped it just inside the left post for his team’s fifth of the night.
Netminder Josh Heer had an outstanding night in stopping 40 shots on net for the win and his first shutout of the season for the Jacks. Heer was recently named to the SOJHL all-star team as the top goalie of the league.
“[Heer] is an outstanding player; he gives us chances to win and always makes the big saves to keep us in the game. He is just a fantastic kid all around and we a very happy with his performance for us this season,” said Fitzpatrick.
The next night, again on home ice, the Jacks would dominate the visiting Norfolk Rebels, scoring seven unanswered goals in two periods of play.
Hinschberger got things rolling at 9:55 in the first period, singlehandedly beating Rebel goaltender Jeff Stillman.
Two minutes later the Jacks went on the powerplay when Norfolk’s forward Dillon Hulton was sent to the box for tripping. The Jacks wasted little time taking advantage of the penalty, as Way tallied his first on the night on assists from Metzger and Geoff Parr.
Eckert would finish the period by beating Stillman low on the glove side, making it 3-0.
The Jacks were firing on all cylinders in the second frame with Way scoring his second of the night unassisted at 5:31. Nine minutes later Way completed his hat trick, scoring his team-leading 20th goal of the year assisted by Metzger and Vickers.
The Jacks would register two more goals in the last minute of play in the period from Josh Herd at 19:21 and James Mildon 19:33.
Returning to the ice
for the third the Jacks were a little at ease, making decent plays and keeping out of trouble when during a struggle in front of Wellesley’s net Norfolk’s Jason Bruckler beat Jacks goalie Jordan Bauman to give his team their first point on the board.
That goal returned the Jacks to their fighting ways and they scored three goals less than two minutes apart: Vickers, McLeod and Bobby Gray.
The weekend wins move the Jacks within four points of first place in the division.
The Jacks are on home ice today (Saturday) to face off against the Hagersville Hawks, with one point separating the two teams in the standings.