The Wellesley Applejacks split the weekend with a win over the St. George Dukes and a loss to the Hagersville Hawks both on home ice. Facing the Dukes on Jan. 20, Mitch Metzger opened the scoring against St. George at the 11-minute mark of the contest courtesy of an assist from Corey Way and Matt Soveregin. It would be the only goal scored in a hard-fought first-period battle. “It was a good game, we played very well and so did St. George. It went back and forth, it was an excellent game,” said Jacks head coach Kevin Fitzpatrick. “We had a lot of guys really step up and perform and I was pleased with the performance the whole team gave.”
After the first intermission the Jacks came out flying, taking it to the Dukes who seemed sluggish returning to the ice after 20 minutes of play. Way would score his team-leading 21st goal of the campaign when he found the back of the net just over eight minutes into the frame.
Metzger picked up the puck just past the red line, slipping it over to Sovereign who would find Way alone on the right of Dukes’ goaltender Tanner Armstrong. Way fired a one-timer below the glove of Armstrong to give the Jacks a 2-0 lead.
St. George cut into that two-goal lead at 13:13 during a powerplay on a shot that squeezed between Wellesley goaltender Josh Heer’s stick and the post, but Tyler Eckert got that one back four minutes later from Rob Hinschberger and Jake Steenson at 17:20 to make it 3-1.
The Dukes retaliated less than two minutes later, potting their second of the night during another powerplay.
The third frame was a well fought period with Wellesley out-shooting St. George 13-5. The Jacks managed to score their fourth of the night off the stick of Shawn Fitzpatrick. Bobby Gray took the puck from deep in Applejack territory, passed it to Blair Witmer who then banked a pass off the boards near the blue line to Fitzpatrick, sending him streaking down the ice. Fitzpatrick used his body to shield the puck from the defenders and managed to cut the right side of the net before slipping the rubber past Armstrong.
Jacks netminder Heer stopped 23 of 25 shots for the win, while Armstrong stopped 41 of 45 for St. George.
Two days later the Jacks were up against Hagersville looking for redemption after losing the week before to the Hawks. Unfortunately the Jacks were not up to the task, losing 8-3.
“I have been giving this game a fair amount of thought over the last couple days and I am not really sure what happened,” said Fitzpatrick.
“Hagersville just beat us in all aspects of the game, what it comes down to is that they were better prepared than we were. I was shocked, because going into that first period I thought we were really ready for them and I misread my team. Full credit to Hagersville, they played very well and took it to us in all aspects of the game, powerplay, penalty killing, five on five, they beat us on all fronts.”
Fitzpatrick had to pull his all-star goalie, Heer, from the game half way through the second period after he gave up five goals.
“It is something I am not use to doing. I just don’t know what happened in net, I am not sure if I should have changed him sooner than I did but he has shown this year that he can get down a couple of goals and shut the door for the rest of the hockey game. They just scored some really nice goals on him,” said Fitzpatrick.
The coach said his goalies did not let in any weak goals during the game, adding Hagersville just outplayed the Jacks from the start of the competition.
“They made some beautiful plays out on the ice,” he said. “I am still trying to figure out what I could have done differently as the coach as it is my responsibility to get the boys ready and we were not ready for them.”
The Jacks take on Tavistock at home today (Saturday), with the puck dropping at 7:30 p.m., and then hit the road the next day to face Norfolk in an afternoon game starting a 2 p.m.