The Wellesley Applejacks split the weekend but managed to end their regular season on a winning note. With two home games at the Wellesley arena, the Jacks hosted the St. George Dukes on Feb. 10 and the Burford Bulldogs the following night. The first game saw the Jacks extend their season-high losing streak to six when the Dukes defeated the Jacks 5-2. The next night Wellesley would shut out the seventh-place Bulldogs in a 5-0 victory.
In the Friday night game, St. George was first on the scoreboard when forward Chris Vasile beat Wellesley goaltender Josh Heer with a wrist shot at 1:33.
The Jacks would retaliate with one of their own eight minutes later when Chris Bauman stole the puck at centre ice and send a beautiful pass to Matt Sovereign waiting at the blue line. Beating a Duke player, Sovereign slipped the puck to Bobby Gray who was all alone on the right side of the net, where he easily chipped in the equalizer past netminder Brandon Phillips.
The Dukes kept applying the pressure, however, and managed to score their second of the night when Parker McIntyre slipped the rubber under the glove of Heer to give them a 2-1 lead heading to the room at the first intermission.
Returning to the ice the Jacks were caught off guard when a solid play by the Dukes resulted in another goal, putting St. George up 3-1. It was the only goal in a hard-fought second frame.
The first 15 minutes of third period played out much like the second, with both teams working hard to find the back of the net only to be stopped by some outstanding goaltending.
The hard action and fast play were just too much for the Jacks, who were still suffering from injuries last week.
“In the end we just ran out of legs,” said Wellesley coach Kevin Fitzpatrick. “We play very well for a team with only nine players but we just couldn’t finish the big plays and we were beat on some flukey goals.”
With Bauman sent to the box for instigating a fight, the Dukes took advantage of the 5-on4 play and potted their fourth and fifth goals of the night less than a minute a part.
Wellesley would manage one more in the last second of play when Reid Denstedt managed to beat Phillips. Connor McLeod and Shawn Fitzpatrick collected the assists.
Heer stopped 32 of 37 for the Jacks while Phillips halted 28 of 30 for the win.
Losing the night before did not effect the Jacks’ resolve against Burford. Wellesley did not waste anytime, scoring in the opening minute when Tyler Eckert beat Bulldog goalie Justin Garner.
Rob Hinschberger added two more to the Jack tally before the first frame was over, giving the home side a three-goal lead heading into the first intermission.
Eckert would score his second of the night at 1:43 when the teams returned to the ice for the second period. Fitzpatrick and McLeod picked up the assists.
Two minutes later Corey Way would seal the deal, scoring the Jacks’ fifth unanswered goal of the game.
“We started strong right out of the gate but halfway through the second period we sort of lost our steam and the third period was like watching a game of pond hockey. We were fortunate that (Bauman) was so strong in net that night,” said Fitzpatrick.
Bauman earned his first shutout of the season, stopping 42 shots on net.
“Bauman was outstanding and he preserved his shutout with some amazing glove saves in the third period,” said Fitzpatrick. “If it were not for him Burford would have had a better chance against us.”
The Jacks would end their season in fifth place in the McConnell Conference and started their playoff run on Feb. 16 against the fourth-place Ayr Centennials at the North Dumfries Community Complex. Results of the
game were not available before press time. Game two of that
series will be at the Wellesley arena on Saturday night starting at 7:30 p.m.