Despite scoring first in both of their games last weekend, the Wellesley Applejacks lost both contests to run their current losing streak to three games. Wellesley dropped a 4-2 decision at home to the Tavistock Braves on Jan. 28, and then fell 4-3 the next afternoon to the lowly Norfolk Rebels, giving the team an 18-11-2 record and falling to fifth place in the SOJHL’s McConnell Conference standings. “I’m not sure which game I was more disappointed in, Saturday or Sunday,” said head coach Kevin Fitzpatrick.
“We had a chance to solidify second place, and now we’ll be hard pressed to get home-ice advantage (in the playoffs).”
The weekend started well enough as Wellesley opened the scoring last Saturday night against the Braves at 7:08 of the first period. The puck was rattled around the Jacks net and the Braves’ defence couldn’t keep the puck in at the blue line. Matt Sovereign got around the defenceman to start a 2-on-1 rush with Connor McLeod, who finished off a cross crease pass from Sovereign to make it 1-0.
Tavistock tied it up just over seven minutes later when Josh Wagler banged home a rebound past Jacks goaltender Jordan Bauman at 14:53 after Bauman made the initial save.
The second period was fast-paced, with only one penalty called in the entire period, but the Braves carried most of the play and used a couple of quick goals midway through the period to put the game out of reach.
Chad Woodhouse’s shot at 11:07 hit a stick or a skate in front of Bauman and redirected past him, and Nick Quehl made it 3-1 at 12:57 by converting a quick pass from behind the Jacks net.
Tavistock held a decisive 14-7 advantage in shots in the second period as well.
“I thought they outplayed us all over the ice,” said Fitzpatrick. “They kept coming and coming and coming and they just outplayed us.”
In the third the teams traded goals as Kevin Howorth made it 3-2 with a shorthanded goal at 13:25 by finishing off a 2-on-1 rush with Shawn Fitzpatrick, but Tavistock restored their two-goal lead at 15:49 on the powerplay.
Bauman finished with 38 saves for the loss.
The following afternoon Wellesley travelled to Norfolk to take on the Rebels, who came into the match with only one win all season, but managed to double that total Sunday against the Jacks.
The Rebels used a three-goal outburst in the third period – all coming on the powerplay – to break the game open and skate away with a 4-2 win.
“There are no excuses,” said Fitzpatrick. “Sunday was just overconfidence, or whatever you want to call it, and it was a real disappointment.”
All weekend long the Jacks offense sputtered and failed to establish any presence in the offensive zone. They only managed 22 shots against the Braves, and the team finished 0 for 10 on the powerplay over the two games.
Fitzpatrick said the team needs to get back to the systems that made them successful earlier in the season.
“I’m not concerned about our record right now, it’s about getting that work ethic back,” he said. “We dominated for about a month and a half. The talent is there, we’ll just have to see if it comes forward.”
The Jacks hit the road this weekend with games in Ayr on Thursday night at 7:30, and a rematch in Tavistock on Friday night at 7:30. Results were unavailable before press time.
Wellesley closes out the regular season with a pair of home games on Feb. 10 and 11 against St. George and Burford. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.