Penalty-filled match meant special teams played a big role in determining the outcome of 5-4 decisionSpecial teams were the deciding factor in a penalty-filled match that saw the Wellesley Applejacks fall 5-4 in overtime to the New Hamburg Firebirds last Saturday. Even the deciding goal came with a man-advantage, power plays accounting for six of the evening’s nine goals.
What looked like a good start to the home game, with the Jacks scoring the first goal (after failing to do so in the past two games against Ayr and Woodstock), turned into a mess of penalties that proved to be Wellesley’s undoing in second period.
A surge in the third brought the Jacks back even, as they scored an impressive two goals in the last minute of the game for a 4-4 tie. Their hopes were dashed again in OT when the team was smacked with a penalty for high sticking, clearing the way for a New Hamburg victory.
“The kids got off to a good start which is what we wanted. They worked hard at the end, but we still have a problem of lack of discipline, and until we figure that one out it’s something that’s going to come back to hurt us,” said head coach Rob Way.
Evenly matched, the teams were also the league leaders on the power play going into the game, skills that were put to use early and often last Saturday. Playing shorthanded for a good chunk of the night did the visiting Jacks no favours.
“If you don’t stay out of the box in that game you are going to lose,” he said.
Mckenzie Carter got the Jacks going with the first goal at 5:32, with an assist from Blake Hetherington. At that point, the Jacks began a parade to the penalty box that would carry on through the match.
Wellesley managed to keep the Firebirds at bay until the second period, when a fighting major to Mark Detzler at 2:43 kicked open the floodgates: New Hamburg scored three times, at 2:09, 3:28 and 7:17. A late surge by Taylor Doering (Parker Wood, Mackenzie Shantz) gave the Jacks their second goal, the last of the period at 19:42, before returning to the room.
There was no scoring in the third period until later on when, no coincidence, both teams got into penalty trouble yet again.
The Firebirds used the man-advantage to score at 14:25 to go up 4-2. But the Jacks were able to capitalize on some New Hamburg infractions, pulling the goaltender and overwhelming the home team with a list-minute flurry to score a pair and draw even at 4-4. Reid Denstedt (Wood, Doering) got the Jacks within one at 18:59 before tallying another (from Coleton Madge, Chris Beauchesne) at 19:26 and forcing overtime.
Penalties were a factor again in the extra frame, as New Hamburg killed the comeback with a power play goal at 1:48.
On the road Sunday in Burford, then in Ayr on October 24, the Jacks next game at home is October 26 against longtime rivals the Tavistock Braves.
Due to scheduling, Wellesley will have a much busier time of it in the second half of the season.
“We are about four games behind many of the league’s teams in games played. It will make for some busy weekends. It means we’re going to have some three-game weekends, which is tough on the legs down the road,” said Way.