How does a team work hard and win one night – sometimes convincingly, as was the case last Saturday – only to come up short the next time out? The Wellesley Applejacks’ lack of consistency through the first half of the season continues to baffle the coaching staff.
“We’ve been inconsistent. We go out and have a very good game, which we did against Woodstock, and we go out the next night and we don’t compete at the same level,” said head coach Rob Way.A pair of games played Saturday and Sunday saw the Jacks dominate the Woodstock Navy Vets 13-3 only to see the celebrations short-lived thanks to a hard-fought 5-4 loss to the Burford Bulldogs the following night.
It’s a frustrating development in the last six games that has left staff scratching their heads for a solution: the skills are there but the follow-through seems to be lacking as the team plays through the middle of the season.
The weekend did start off on a high note, however, as Cody Tapsell got things rolling early, making it 1-0 at 1:30, with assists from Troy Williams and Reid Denstedt, beginning what would be a score-fest for the Jacks.
At first the Vets kept up, replying at 2:24, then seeing Wellesley’s Luke Rose (Blake Hetherington, Felix Lantaigne) at 10:37. Woodstock potted a goal at 18:18, but Jacks were on their tails again with a third goal at 19:56. It was still a close game at 3-2 after 20 minutes.
Coming out of the room, the Jacks made it 4-2 at 3:58 courtesy of Denstedt (Tapsell, Williams). The Vets were in for a while longer, making it a one-goal game at 6:09. After that, the wheels came off fully and completely, with the home team potting seven goals through the middle frame, adding three more in the third.
The slaughter began at 6:41 on a goal by by Justin Lebold (Williams, Denstedt). In the next 12 minutes, the Jacks reeled off four more thanks to Mitch Carter (Sean McEwan, Parker Wood), Devon Wagner, Alex Stoody (Wagner, Brett MacDonald), Carter (McEwan) and Stoody again (Wagner) at 18:50.
In the final period, MacDonald (Wagner) followed up at 9:54, then Wagner at 14:49 and Stoody (MacDonald, Taylor Doering) at 15:24 for the big win.
The energy continued on the ice on Sunday, as the Jacks didn’t lose for lack of trying. They outshot the Bulldogs 42-35, but couldn’t make too many of the attempts stick.
Stoody was first up on the board with a 1:36 goal and assists from Wagner and MacDonald in the opening period. The Bulldogs countered fast at 4:45. The frame ended 2-1 for the Jacks after Stoody (MacDonlad, Chris Beauchesne) scored at 10:55.
Burford scored first after the break, 4:45 followed by a pair for Wellesley from Tapsell (Rose) at 11:11 and McEwan (Carter, Mackenzie Shantz) at 12:55. That’s where it ended for the home team. While most Jacks saw little of the puck, goalie Josh Heer saw plenty of it as it zoomed past him three more times.
Burford scored uninterrupted at 14:30 in the second then at 8:56 in the third before the final goal at 16:48.
Way said this happens at every level of hockey.
“You see it in the NHL: sometimes teams go out and play really well one night, next night they don’t play well. The good teams are the ones that do it every night like the Pittsburg Penguins. They compete at a high level every night.
“What we are talking to the kids about is to be a championship team you have to bring the same compete level every night. We just have to figure out how to get consistent. We firmly believe that we’ve got a team – when everybody’s healthy – that can compete for the championships. Our whole message is you have to compete every night.”