At this point in the hockey season it’s all about the standings and the Wellesley Applejacks are on top of their game following a tough start to the new year. After three wins last week, the Jacks took it further with Friday’s 5-4 victory over Tavistock and an 8-0 game win against visiting Norfolk Saturday night.
With just two more games to go in their rather successful albeit short regular season, the Jacks are just behind Ayr in the division standings, tied for second place with Hagersville with 48 points (23-11-2).
But if the Jacks want a hope of keeping the second spot in time for playoffs “this team needs to buckle down and play better,” head coach Kevin Fitzpatrick said.
To his mind, the January 11 game didn’t show his team’s best efforts, as the Jacks spent the better part of two periods killing penalties.
“Our goaltender Corey Tuffnail stole the game. He made some outstanding saves when we were playing very poorly. He’s the reason we got the two points,” he said.
Still, the Jacks would post the first of two wins over the weekend.
The first period yielded little for the Wellesley team, with Tavistock earning the only goal at 12:23. Going into the second frame the Jacks were not to be one-upped for long, as Reid Denstedt got his team on the board at 3:44, with assists from Cody Tapsell and Derek Lebold. Shawn Fitzpatrick made it 2-1 Jacks at 5:45.
Tavistock would restore a one-goal lead late in the frame, potting two in a row at 15:04 and again at 15:55 but the two teams went into third tied after Corey Way knocked one in seconds later at 16:25.
In third, a two-goal early lead and good defensive play spelled victory for the Jacks. Way got another at 0:29, followed by Devon Wagner at 0:42 with assists from Tyler Eckert and Troy Williams. Tavistock would follow suit with an early goal of their own at 4:31 but that would be the last for the home team, leaving Wellesley to collect another road win.
Home again on Sunday, Wellesley made quick work of Norfolk, doing all of the game’s scoring. The visitors didn’t put up much of a fight as the Jacks outshot the Rebels 20-11 in the first frame, claiming three goals: Wagner at 2:44 and 5:47, followed by Eckert at 8:44, both assisted by Williams.
Despite what looked like an easy win, Fitzpatrick was quick to praise Norfolk’s netminder.
“Their goalie is outstanding; we fired a lot of pucks at them and we scored some wonderful goals,” he said.
In the second frame Wellesley eased up on the offense, managing only nine attempts on the net to Norfolk’s 11, but still managed to surge ahead with Michael Pollice knocking one in at 13:54.
Already down by four points, Norfolk decided to take their Good Samaritan spirit even further by donating a generous four goals to the winning team.
Eckert got back on the board at 6:26 followed by Blake Hetherington at 8:11 and Josh Herd at 9:52 before Wagner earned himself a last-minute hat trick at 19:33.
The Jacks wrap up the regular season at home this weekend, with final seeding up for grabs. Hosting Hagersville Friday night, Wellesley plays out the run against Ayr Saturday night. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.