The Wellesley Applejacks closed the book on their 2011-12 season at their annual year-end awards banquet on Apr. 27 by paying homage to up-and-coming as well as departing players. Meeting at the Khaki Club just outside of Wellesley, the management and coaching staff thanked their players and their scores of volunteers for all their work in what was, at times, a trying season.
“The Jacks had one of those seasons that you might call a roller-coaster ride,” said Rick Grebinski, a member of the team’s executive.
“We got off to that 5-0 start and we were up in the clouds where it was sunny and everything was good in Jacks land, and then we had an injury here, a suspension there, a bad bounce here, and before we knew it we were down.”
The Jacks finished with a record of 19-14-2, fifth in the McConnell Conference standings. Playing a tough Ayr Centennial club in the first round, the Jacks were ousted in five games, with three of those matches requiring overtime. The final loss came on Mar. 1 in Ayr, a 5-4 overtime final.
“I don’t think there was any night where a team could go into a game and say ‘these two points are ours.’”
The team recognized the past, the present and the future of the Applejacks throughout the evening, taking time to recount the history of each trophy and who they were named after.
“You look over at these awards and there is a lot of history with this organization,” said head coach Kevin Fitzpatrick. “A lot of great stories and a lot of great kids.”
In total eight players walked away with awards on the night, with the top award of the evening – team MVP – going to goaltender Josh Heer in his first season with the team.
Heer gave the team a chance to win on most evenings, playing in 24 games this season and finishing with a record of 13-10-0-1 and one shutout, .907 save percentage and a 3.17 goals against average. Heer was also one of four Jacks to represent the team at the all-star game, along with Geoff Parr, Corey Way and trainer Al Jones.
Other awards included rookie of the year (Reid Denstedt), the Martin Nowack Memorial unsung player award (Trevor Olender), the most improved player award (Derek Lebold), the Don Green Memorial trophy for most sportsmanlike player (Connor McLeod), the Coaches award (Josh Herd), the Ralph Jantzi award for most valuable local player (Shawn Fitzpatrick) and the John Egli award for top defenceman (James Mildon).
The team also gave some insight into next season, a year in which the team will be moved up to Junior C following the merger with the Junior D league announced last month, and Grebinski also informed the crowd that the team will be sporting new jerseys next season, with a preview available at their booth at the Wellesley Home and Garden Show from May 2-4.
Despite the early end, Fitzpatrick said it was a fun season and that the group had represented Wellesley well, and that their parents and families should be proud.
“We didn’t achieve our goals, but unfortunately only one team can do that,” he said at the end of the evening. “We’re looking forward to some big things moving forward.”